Sen. Joe Manchin did everything in the power granted him by the narrow Democratic margin in the Senate to butcher the Biden administration’s plans to invest $3.5 trillion over 10 years into energy-related and environmental justice-related programs. But he came around eventually to support the $369 billion reconciliation bill that includes an unprecedented amount of money for climate-related programs over 10 years. Thus, this Inflation Reduction Act will provide about 3.75% of what will be spent by the Department of Defense over that decade.
And though advocates of the climate-related investment breathed a sigh of relief last year that at least something positive was ultimately hammered out, the price paid for Manchin’s support was several provisions promoting new fossil fuel projects, one of which—coal—has made Manchin a rich man.
For the past few months, however, he has been bellyaching about the details of how the tax credits for electric vehicles and clean energy will operate. He’s blasted Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and threatened to sue. The IRA provisions, he has claimed, were not about climate but rather energy security—in case you’re curious, that’s code for expanded U.S. production of fossil fuels.
Today, Luke Broadwater at The New York Times wrote:
The senator, who is up for re-election next year and has been flirting with a presidential run of his own, has declared a sort of legislative war against the measure he helped push through Congress. He has professed frustration and dismay at what he calls the “radical climate agenda” that he says is driving the Biden administration’s rollout of the law. And he is still irritated that his colleagues failed to include one of his top priorities: an initiative to speed permitting of energy projects.
Mr. Manchin went on Fox News last month and threatened to try to reverse the legislation — “I will vote to repeal my own bill,” he said — making common cause with Republicans who have demanded the reversal of several of its provisions in exchange for raising the debt limit. […
For now, the senator appears to be on the war path against the Biden administration about its signature domestic policy law. Its projected cost has exploded as the administration began doling out the tax credits the bill authorized for electric vehicles. Mr. Manchin has complained that the credits are unnecessary and wasteful and accused the administration of slow-walking the approval of leases for domestic energy production.
You know what a “radical climate agenda” is? Slow-walking the green transition the way Manchin, the fossil fuel industry, and their other marionettes in Congress and several state legislatures have done and keep doing. That’s not all. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency rolled out its draft proposal on greenhouse gas standards for fossil fuel plants. Manchin has threatened to block all EPA nominees over the standards. He might as well be in Mitch McConnell’s back pocket.
I can’t read minds, so I won’t claim to know what is truly in Manchin’s heart in this matter. What I do know is that anyone who truly accepts what scientists are saying about the climate crisis would not use the political clout of their high office to cripple policies to prevent, mitigate, and adapt to the dire impacts of changes being projected for our future, a future that is arriving sooner than many climatologists had calculated.
Every minute the green transition is delayed adds to climate impacts.
As climatologists and activists have been saying since James Hansen testified to Congress 35 years ago next month, acting early to control greenhouse gas emissions would mean no need for draconian actions later. But acting early didn’t happen. And here we are with the West Virginia senator and his GOP buddies pushing further delays. They are the radicals, the extremists on climate.
It’s actually easier to respect a numbskull like former Oklahoma Sen. James “Snowball” Inhofe than Manchin. Inhofe wrote an entire book calling climate change a hoax and seems to truly believe it. Manchin pretends he’s down with the science even as his bank account gets ever fatter feeding off the teat of the fossil fuel industry while promoting its policy preferences. That’s an industry that, in case anyone has forgotten, spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting climate science disinformation decades after companies’ own scientists issued internal warnings that burning fuels would cause global warming.
Manchin has thrived thanks to profiteers who created climate change doubt by gaslighting the populace, smearing scientists, attacking activists, and, of course, pouring gobs of campaign money into the pockets of compliant politicians in both parties. And he and they are still doing it, putting big grins on Senate Republican faces.