President Biden’s climate agenda took a heavy blow yesterday when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin reportedly told the White House that he strongly opposes the $150 billion clean electricity program that is the “muscle behind” the president’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. As the New York Times noted, this is “a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy” by rewarding utility companies that switch to renewable sources and penalizing those that don’t. Now, it’s expected to be dropped from the reconciliation bill pending in Congress.
It’s no surprise that Sen. Manchin is determined to deep-six this program: He receives more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator. But his veto power over the Biden-led effort to address climate change not only harms the president’s agenda, it accelerates the increasingly visible dangers of fossil fuel-derived carbon emissions. (It’s hard to miss the last year of increasingly deadly wildfires, floods and hurricanes, for example, intensified by climate change.)
So here’s my question: How crucial is confronting climate change to you now? Even as Biden’s team attempts to find alternative policies, how big a blow is Manchin’s opposition? How tragic is this loss to you over a policy that experts say would be the toughest climate policy ever enacted by the US? And how does climate change stack up alongside the many other issues facing America, including the threats to our democracy, gun violence, radical domestic extremism and the continuing reality of unequal justice?
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts—and the opportunity for this community to learn from each other.
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Photo Credit: Sen. Joe Manchin on October 6, 2021. By Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.
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