WASHINGTON — The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the country’s coal and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear power — will likely be removed from a big budget bill pending in Congress, According to Congress employees and lobbyists are familiar with the matter.
Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III of coal-rich West Virginia, whose vote is crucial to the bill’s passage, has told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program, according to the three people. As a result, White House staff are now rewriting the law without that climate provision, and trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions.
A spokesman for the Biden administration declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr Manchin did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
The $150 billion clean electricity program was the muscle behind Mr. Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that have switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not.
Experts have said the policy would dramatically reduce the greenhouse gases warming the planet over the next decade and would be the strongest climate change policy ever implemented by the United States.
Democrats hope to include it in a broader budget bill that would also expand the social safety net, which they plan to introduce through a fast-track process known as reconciliation that allows them to A Republican vote would allow it to pass. The party is still trying to figure out how to get the budget bill passed along with a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
For weeks, Democratic leaders have vowed that strong climate change provisions – in particular, the clean electricity program – would be at the center of the package. Progressive Democrats called “No Climate, No Deal!” Rallies chanting slogans.
Mr Manchin, who has personal financial ties to the coal industry, initially intended to write details of the program as chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Mr Manchin was considering a clean electricity program that would reward utilities for switching from coal to natural gas, which is less polluting but still emits carbon dioxide and can leak methane, another greenhouse gas. Is. Mr. Manchin’s home state, West Virginia, is one of the nation’s top producers of coal and gas.
But in recent days, Mr Manchin has signaled to the administration that he is now outright opposed to a clean electricity program, people familiar with the discussion said.
As a result, White House staff are scrambling to calculate the impact on emissions from other climate measures in the bill, including tax incentives for renewable energy firms and tax credits for consumers who buy electric vehicles. Unlike a clean electricity program, tax incentives expire after a certain period of time, and a more sustainable strategy does not have the market-shifting power.
During a year of record and deadly droughts, wildfires, hurricanes and floods that scientists say have been worsened by climate change, Mr Biden sought to seed policies into the federal government to significantly reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. There is demand – mainly carbon dioxide and methane. He has pledged to the rest of the world that the United States will cut its emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
In two weeks, Mr Biden will face other world leaders at a major UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where he hoped to point to the clean electricity program as evidence that the United States, the planet’s part of the world. The biggest historical emitter—warming pollution—was serious about cutting its emissions and leading the global effort to fight climate change.
The rest of the world remains very wary of the United States’ commitment to tackling global warming after four years in which former President Donald J. Trump openly ridiculed the science of climate change and created policies that encouraged more drilling and burning of fossil fuels.
Mr Biden had hoped that enactment of the law would clean up the energy sector, which produces about a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gases. He wanted a program with influence that would last well after he left office, no matter who was in the White House.
Several other climate provisions remain in the bill, at least for now, including nearly $300 billion to expand existing tax credits for utilities, commercial businesses and homeowners who use zero-carbon sources such as wind and solar. Credits for individuals who use or generate electricity from and purchase electric vehicles and $32 billion in tax credits. It could also include $13.5 billion for electric-car charging stations and $9 billion to update the electric grid, making it more conducive to circulating wind and solar power, and for federal buildings and vehicles. $17.5 billion to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by.
But, analysts say, while those spending programs will help make the transition to a less-polluting future easier and cheaper for the US economy, they are likely to lead to the same rapid change brought about by the Clean Electricity Program. are not likely.
It’s also possible that Democrats may try to push the clean electricity program as a stand-alone bill – but the deadline for doing so is getting shorter, with the 2022 midterm election.