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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


How Joe Manchin Shaped the Climate Change Bill

Asked for comment, Mr. Manchin’s spokeswoman, Sam Runyon, pointed to those provisions as well as another $5 billion in the package that would allow existing coal-fired power plants to improve their efficiency and adopt environmental controls like scrubbers, which remove pollutants from smokestacks. Those measures to help the coal industry, she noted, come on top of $8.5 billion for carbon capture and storage that Mr. Manchin secured as part of a bipartisan infrastructure bill last year.

Over a decade ago, Mr. Manchin ran a campaign ad in which he shot a bullet through President Barack Obama’s climate plan, which ultimately failed. So when Mr. Biden took office, he knew that Mr. Manchin would be his biggest obstacle to passing an ambitious climate change bill.

At every step of the way, Mr. Manchin shaped the legislation.

Many Democrats wanted a clean energy standard that would pay electric utilities to replace coal- and gas-fired power plants with renewable power and that would penalize those that didn’t. But Mr. Manchin opposed the measure, so it was scrapped. He vetoed a plan to provide bigger tax credits for consumers who bought union-made electric vehicles, a measure that was opposed by Toyota Motor, which operates a nonunion plant in West Virginia. And he ensured that the tax credits for electric vehicles could not be used by the wealthiest Americans.

Mr. Manchin scaled back but did not eliminate a fee imposed on oil and gas operators for leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from wells, pipelines and other infrastructure. He rejected an early plan by Democrats to permanently ban oil drilling in the Atlantic and the Pacific and he ensured that longstanding tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry, which many Democrats wanted to repeal, went untouched.

As negotiations continued and war broke out in Ukraine, causing oil prices to skyrocket worldwide, Mr. Manchin talked about the need to increase drilling to bring down gasoline prices and cut government spending. The price tag of what was once a $2.2 trillion bill plummeted and more than $200 billion worth of spending on climate provisions was thrown out.

In the end, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, was willing to include several provisions that would require the federal government to open more public lands to drilling. At the same time, the bill would increase the royalty rates that energy companies have to pay for extracting fossil fuels in those areas.

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