If Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., will not vote for a budget reconciliation bill that includes the measures to reduce climate change in the version passed by the House of Representatives last year, as would not virtually guarantee that the United States will not meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, experts say.
As part of his efforts to push for a strong global deal to avoid catastrophic climate change by staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) in Glasgow, Scotland, last year, President Biden promised the US would. would reduce at least half of its emissions from a 2005 baseline by 2030. Due to reduced use of coal in the power sector, the nation is already almost halfway to that goal, with emissions reduced. since 2005. But going the rest of the way is impossible without legislation that accelerates the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, according to models by economists, scientists and policy experts.
“This appears to be the latest installment in the collapse of Democratic hopes for a major climate legislative package for the 117th Congress,” Barry Rabe, a professor of environmental and public policy at the University of Michigan, told Yahoo News in an email. email. on Manchin’s reported stance. “Despite bold early promises, Congress has once again failed to deliver on a climate bill. This clearly jeopardizes any chance of meeting President Biden’s emissions reduction promise and further challenges American credibility in global climate deliberations.”
On Thursday, Rhodium Group, a research and data analytics company specializing in energy and the environment, published The US is on track to cut emissions 24% to 35% below 2005 levels by 2030. In the absence of significant new policies, in other words, the best case scenario is that the US Get 70% of the way to Biden’s goal of cutting emissions in half, and you’re just as likely to get halfway there.
Manchin had previously signaled his support for provisions in the budget bill, formerly known as Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, that would subsidize the rollout of clean energy and electric vehicles. Democrats wanted to spend more than 10 years in tax credits for purchases like rooftop solar panels, electric cars, and tax credits on incentives for projects like advanced battery storage and industrial process cleanup. Congressional Democrats and Biden had already agreed to scrap other climate provisions, such as the Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would have provided incentives for power companies that switched to clean energy sources like wind and solar, at Manchin’s request.
Previous studies by organizations such as the World Resources Institute (WRI), a leading global environmental think tank, had barely, with the package of climate provisions that Manchin had indicated he might support, possibly approval of more fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
“Failure to enact a climate-smart budget package would be a devastating setback to achieving America’s promise to cut emissions in half by 2030,” Dan Lashof, director of WRI USA, said in a statement Friday. “ that strong financial investments, such as those being considered in the budget reconciliation package, are essential for the US to achieve that timeline.”
But on Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that he would not vote for a bill that includes climate change spending or tax increases on wealthy individuals and corporations to pay for it. “Senator Manchin believes it is time for leaders to put aside political agendas, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities facing the country to avoid taking actions that add fuel to the inflationary fire,” said Manchin spokesman Sam Runyon.
On Friday morning, the West Virginia Democrat told a local radio station in his home state that he is open to backing climate change policies if inflation eases next month. “I said, ‘Chuck, can we wait until the inflation numbers come out in July? … And then make a decision about what we can do and how much we can do?’” Manchin said, referring to a conversation he had with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. “[Schumer] he took that as a ‘no,’ i guess, and came out with this big thing last night. And I don’t know why they did that. I guess to try to put pressure on me, but they’ve been doing it for over a year. It doesn’t make any sense at all. As far as I’m concerned, I want a climate, I want an energy policy.”
However, if Manchin does not cast his crucial vote and Republicans win control of at least one house of Congress in November’s midterm elections, there is no hope that the legislation will address climate change. And without legislation, the federal government has limited tools at its disposal to reduce emissions. Only Congress can tax and spend. And contrary to Manchin’s reasoning about inflation, a 2021 study by the Rhodium Group found that American households an average of around $500 per year in energy bills if the climate package were to pass.
“We need to make it more affordable for ordinary Americans to get off fossil fuels,” Leah Stokes, a political scientist who specializes in environmental policy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told Yahoo News. “Fossil fuels are expensive, they are driving inflation. The bill would have been really good for the pockets of ordinary Americans. It would have helped them close the gaps, so they could afford an electric vehicle, so they could afford an electric heat pump. There were all these investments that were going to make it easier for utilities to build wind and solar power, that were going to make it easier to retire dirty and expensive fossil fuel plants. It was really about helping to invest in climate solutions, so that we can move forward at a faster pace.”
Using executive authority under existing laws like the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency can mandate stronger pollution controls and the Interior Department can restrict fossil fuel development on federal lands, but those moves, assuming they survive to the inevitable legal challenges of the fossil fuel industry—it will only reduce emissions at the margins.
“One of the tragedies of the last 18 months is that the Biden administration has been cautious about upsetting these delicate negotiations with Senator Manchin, thus refraining from using the full force of its executive authority,” he said. Stokes. “That is not the case going forward, the Biden administration will act. He will be much more aggressive on everything from Clean Air Act regulations to limiting fossil fuel development. There is no reason to delay any longer. So we might be in a little better place, as long as the Biden administration gets going on climate change.
“But reaching the finish line is difficult,” he added. “And there is a model that has estimated what it means if the Biden administration uses all the regulations it can and tends to get us five percentage points closer to the goal. So if we’re at 35%, it takes us to 40%, optimistically.”
“We are not currently on track to meet our international climate commitments or our environmental justice commitments,” Jamal Raad, executive director of Evergreen Action, a climate advocacy group, told Yahoo News. “Massive investment was needed over the next decade to power our transition to clean energy and reduce the cost of wind and solar power and increase renewable energy production. Without that huge investment, it’s hard to see how we’ll deliver on our commitments.”