Joe Manchin did exactly what we all thought he was going to do. Hell, it’s something he’s historically been doing: denying the very real climate crisis that will only get worse because of his failures. That doesn’t mean any semblance of progress must stall out because the senator from West Virginia needs just a little more time to sit on his hands and contemplate gas prices or other disingenuous shit. As news was breaking that Manchin wanted nothing to do with a spending package if it included addressing climate change, the Biden administration was announcing a $56 million funding initiative to increase domestic production of solar panels, jump-start Energy Department projects, and even weigh the benefits of integrating photovoltaic (PV) technology with electric vehicles.
According to an Energy Department press release, $29 million is being devoted to PV research and development funding, of which $10 million will be used to “support projects that increase the reuse and recycling of solar technologies.” A further $27 million will be devoted to developing new solar technology projects through a manufacturing incubator. The Energy Department has $18 million allocated to supporting emerging projects that may require additional funding and, separately, $8 million in funding has been rewarded to seven small solar companies from around the country. These funding opportunities only came about because of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Jacobin helpfully points out Manchin only signed onto because the interests he’s beholden to signaled their support.
Manchin’s home state has atrocious infrastructure and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act actually aimed to address it, pleasing voters and local politicians and even his wife. Possibilities could emerge in the future where Manchin’s so-called needs are taken care of and he’s doing right by the fossil fuel industry, as with the money earmarked for carbon capture and hydrogen projects, which the American Petroleum Institute was absolutely thrilled with in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But Manchin’s whims don’t deserve the energy if there are ways to work around him, which the Biden administration has already shown is possible. Take another Thursday announcement from the Bureau of Land Management detailing plans for the long-awaited Ten West Link Transmission Line.
The Ten West Link Transmission Line is a massive utility-scale solar project “connecting existing substations in Tonopah, Arizona and Blythe, California.” It’s part of a larger push to put renewable projects on public lands and show the country that reliable power is possible with solar, wind, and geothermal. It’s an Obama-era project that has been in the works since 2016—and that should give the Biden administration hope so long as it pushes to at least begin similar projects in hopes of an incoming Democratic administration building off of that work. In this regard, voting really is an important tool to continue the fight against climate change. Whether Biden is a one-term president or returns to the White House after the 2024 election, there are ways to effect change that have nothing to do with one morally bankrupt 74-year-old.