Democrats’ red line for Manchin: no climate cuts


Yesterday, a group of Senate Democrats opposed possible cuts to climate programs in the reconciliation plan, as the gaze continues with West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and other moderates.

“There is no middle ground between a liveable and unlivable world. We cannot pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill without the reconciliation plan, ”said Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) At a press conference with environmental groups and Senator Tina Smith (D -Minn.) Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) And Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “We cannot cut climate finance in this package. “

Among the provisions that need to be protected, Markey said, are the Civilian Climate Corps, a green bank, proposals to remove tax breaks for fossil fuels and a list of other climate policies. The rallying cry, in short, was “no climate, no deal”.

The event, hosted by Evergreen Action and the Sunrise movement, offered a sort of wake-up call, as the White House and leading Congressional Democrats negotiate the details of a reconciliation deal with Manchin, chairman of the Committee of the energy and natural resources, and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona).

The rally came just a day after Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), A progressive who caucuses with Democrats, extensively lambasted Manchin for his “vague” demands during talks on the signing bill. of President Biden (Daily E&E, October 7).

Markey was also particularly critical of any suggestion to include natural gas in the package. “Be clear: natural gas is not clean energy and it is not climate action,” Markey told reporters.

Biden is currently negotiating against the $ 3.5 trillion in revenue spelled out in the House Reconciliation Bill, which has raised fears among progressives that entire programs will be withdrawn or cuts imposed on all levels for policies to combat climate change and a wide variety of social issues (Daily E&E, October 6).

Manchin, meanwhile, insists on overall spending of $ 1.5 trillion and said the tax provisions should include more coal, natural gas and carbon capture, and should not end tax breaks for local people. fossil fuels. He also challenged the Clean Electricity Performance Program, or CEPP, the bill’s signature decarbonization policy for the electricity sector.

Markey and other climate hawks, as they have been doing for weeks, generally refrained from directly criticizing Manchin yesterday, saying instead that they were ready to hear his concerns.

“I really believe he’s negotiating in good faith, he’s trying to find common ground, and that’s what you can ask for,” Smith, one of the architects of CEPP, said in an interview. .

But in the end, Smith and Markey said they need to see climate change tackled on a scale large enough to meet Biden’s decarbonization goals.

“We don’t just need Senator Manchin’s support for this bill,” Smith said. “We need my support.

Democrats will need to rally that support quickly if they are to give Biden anything to contribute to the UN climate talks next month.

Biden has pledged to reduce emissions by 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and the policies of the reconciliation plan are almost certainly expected to play a significant role if the United States is to meet that goal (Daily E&E, September 17).

“We need to act in Congress before Joe Biden goes to meet the rest of the world,” Markey said. “President Biden must be able to come up with a deal that reflects what we expect from the rest of the world next. “

Room for carbon capture?

The negotiations, however, are in a dark place, especially as Manchin hasn’t explained exactly how he would change the CEPP.

“We can’t be cautious about reliability, that’s all I’m saying,” Manchin told E&E News this week. “And I’m not going to put my state or my country in danger of not having the power we need to take care of ourselves and keep our families healthy, but also the jobs we need. We will be working through it all.

Smith said the version of policy that emerges from Senate talks is likely to be different from the House CEPP’s proposal, which would grant subsidies to utilities that deploy at least 4% more clean energy each. years and fines for those who do not. It has also indicated that it is open to the production of fossil fuels with carbon capture.

“One of the differences is that there would be more room in the proposals we have designed so far in the Senate for carbon capture technology on coal or natural gas,” Smith said.

“There is more room for us to move forward on carbon capture, and if these carbon capture tax credits in Senator Wyden’s committee were strong enough, it would have a big impact on the feasibility of these proposals over the next 10 years, ”Smith added.

Wyden, who chairs the finance committee, noted that the tax proposal he advocates for reconciliation, S. 1298, would repeal existing energy credits in favor of a technologically neutral approach focused on reducing emissions, an idea Manchin supported.

“Sen. Manchin, even in some of these documents, has emphasized what is called technological neutrality,” Wyden said, referring to a leaked memo outlining Manchin’s reconciliation demands (Daily E&E, October 1st).

“This is what we do with our program,” Wyden said. “What we’re saying is if you can reduce the carbon emissions, you get the savings.”

Climate policies, including the carbon price that Wyden is developing with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), could also appeal to Manchin as a pay-for, given his concerns about inflation and federal deficits.

Van Hollen told reporters that Manchin had not ruled out his “Polluter Pays Climate Fund Act,” a proposal to tax major greenhouse gas emitters on the basis of their past contributions to change. climate (PM E&E News, August 4).

“I spoke to Senator Manchin about it,” Van Hollen said. “He didn’t reject it.

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