It says something fascinating about our politics that we’re going to have a representative of fossil fuel interests crafting the policy that reduces our emissions from fossil fuels. — Joseph Aldy, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
It says something fascinating about our politics that we’re going to have a representative of fossil fuel interests crafting the policy that reduces our emissions from fossil fuels. — Joseph Aldy, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

The penalty on pollution is really important. All the analyses show that you get big reductions in carbon emissions if you have a penalty on polluting. Take that away, and all you have is another government subsidy for renewable energy. — Joseph Aldy, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
The penalty on pollution is really important. All the analyses show that you get big reductions in carbon emissions if you have a penalty on polluting. Take that away, and all you have is another government subsidy for renewable energy. — Joseph Aldy, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

This is not the time to water down the biggest driver of reducing climate pollution. We are absolutely out of time when it comes to dealing with the climate crisis. — Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs at League of Conservation Voters
This is not the time to water down the biggest driver of reducing climate pollution. We are absolutely out of time when it comes to dealing with the climate crisis. — Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs at League of Conservation Voters

The proposals now being weighed by Mr. Manchin would keep fossil fuels as a major engine of the economy for longer than the climate can bear it. — Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University
The proposals now being weighed by Mr. Manchin would keep fossil fuels as a major engine of the economy for longer than the climate can bear it. — Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University

This Powerful Democrat Linked to Fossil Fuels Will Craft the U.S. Climate Plan
Joe Manchin, the powerful West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate energy panel and earned half a million dollars last year from coal production, is preparing to remake President Biden’s climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry — despite urgent calls from scientists that countries need to quickly pivot away from coal, gas and oil to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Mr. Manchin has already emerged as the crucial up-or-down vote in a sharply divided Senate when it comes to Mr. Biden’s push to pass a $3.5 trillion budget bill that could reshape the nation’s social welfare network. But Mr. Biden also wants the bill to include an aggressive climate policy that would compel utilities to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to wind, solar or nuclear energy, sources that do not emit the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Manchin holds the pen and the gavel of the congressional panel, with the authority to shape Mr. Biden’s ambitions.

But Mr. Manchin is also closely associated with the fossil fuel industry. His beloved West Virginia is second in coal and seventh in natural gas production among the 50 states. In the current election cycle, Mr. Manchin has received more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets, a research organization that tracks political spending.

He profits personally from polluting industries: He owns stock valued at between $1 million and $5 million in Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage firm which he founded in 1988. He gave control of the firm to his son, Joseph, after he was elected West Virginia secretary of state in 2000. Last year, Mr. Manchin made $491,949 in dividends from his Enersystems stock, according to his Senate financial disclosure report.

“It says something fascinating about our politics that we’re going to have a representative of fossil fuel interests crafting the policy that reduces our emissions from fossil fuels,” said Joseph Aldy, who helped craft former President Barack Obama’s climate change bill and now teaches at Harvard.

... During his 2010 Senate campaign, Mr. Manchin famously appeared in a television ad in which he used a shotgun to put a bullet hole through Mr. Obama’s climate plan, “‘cause it’s bad for West Virginia,” he said. More recently, Mr. Manchin has publicly acknowledged the contribution of fossil fuel pollution to rising global temperatures.


“There is no question that climate change is real or that human activities are driving much of it,” he co-wrote in a 2019 opinion article in the Washington Post with Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska.

But Mr. Manchin has also made clear that he does not support legislation that would eliminate the burning of those fossil fuels — particularly coal and natural gas.

Now, Mr. Manchin is preparing to write the climate portion of the budget bill in a way that would keep natural gas flowing to power plants, according to people familiar with his thinking. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss it.

Mr. Manchin does support some climate measures proposed by Mr. Biden, but is working to ensure they protect and extend the use of coal and natural gas. He agrees with the president that communities dependent on fossil fuels deserve financial support as the country transitions to green energy. And he is a booster of carbon capture sequestration, a nascent technology that collects carbon emissions from smokestacks and buries them in the ground. If it were to become commercially viable, that technology could allow industries to continue to burn coal, oil and gas.

But the most powerful climate mechanism in the budget bill — and the one that Mr. Manchin intends to reshape — is a $150 billion program designed to replace most of the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear power over the next decade. Known as the Clean Electricity Performance Program, it would pay utilities to ratchet up the amount of power they produce from zero-emissions sources, and fine those that don’t.

... Mr. Aldy said removing fines would drastically weaken the bill. “The penalty on pollution is really important,” he said. “All the analyses show that you get big reductions in carbon emissions if you have a penalty on polluting. Take that away, and all you have is another government subsidy for renewable energy.”

... Environmentalists and progressives are demanding urgent federal action and are concerned that Democrats have only a short window before the 2022 elections when they could lose control of Congress.

“This is not the time to water down the biggest driver of reducing climate pollution,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president at the League of Conservation Voters. “We are absolutely out of time when it comes to dealing with the climate crisis.”

The proposals now being weighed by Mr. Manchin “would keep fossil fuels as a major engine of the economy for longer than the climate can bear it,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/19/climate/manchin-climate-biden.html