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What Joe Manchin wants | Salon.com

Senator Joe Manchin suddenly announced that he opposes the President Build back better This initiative sent shock waves to Washington and the climate movement – ​​although many progressives had previously feared that Manchin, after undermining many key climate provisions, would turn whole project.

They were right.

As Democrats grapple with how to rescue a sensible version of Build Back Better from the ashes, consider all the progressive positions Manchin has taken in the past. With that, the Democratic senator from West Virginia swore that his guiding force was an energy policy to “innovate, not eliminate.” In other words, encouraging all kinds of new energy – especially carbon capture and storage could prolong the coal and gas era – but also breakthroughs in production areas such as green hydrogen.

What reasons does the senator have against Build Back Better?

“The energy transition my colleagues seek is … faster than technology or the market allows,” he said, with “catastrophic consequences for the American people.”

This is complete nonsense – and Manchin needs a gentle reminder of this. The final version of Build Back Better, after being trimmed by Manchin, is probably the heaviest, most carrot-free main energy bill ever made. And the rate of transition is expected to make the United States the leader in the global clean energy transition.

However, Manchin’s flimsy reason to bail the bill actually suggests a political strategy to win back his vote.

Indeed, Build Back Better is notable for its lack of teeth, a fact underappreciated by most commentaries on the bill. It offers tens of billions of dollars in technology-neutral tax credits and financial guarantees – not just for wind and solar, but for energy storage of all kinds: nuclear new, geothermal, green hydrogen and, yes, carbon capture and storage.

Its only restrictive proposition, the tax on methane leak from oil and wells, designed to encourage innovation in that industry, not shut it down.

For advanced technologies like green hydrogen and carbon capture, Build Back Better (BBB) ​​has provided billions of dollars in potential tax credits for technologies Manchin says he supports, like seizing and carbon storage. (Indeed, partly because of those investments, Unified mine workers are protesting Manchin decided to vote “no” on the bill).

So why did Manchin flip the bet? Two obvious reasons. First, he encountered the intrinsic contradiction of his “innovation without elimination” approach. Like Bloomberg’s Liam Denning shown before Manchin walked away, “innovation eventually leads to elimination.”


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As Manchin cut bans and bans, the White House and Democrats increased incentives to maintain the same outcome – ultimately a 45% reduction in emissions and almost 80% zero carbon electricity by 2030. If you go by the numbers, those goals – the foundation of Manchin’s complaint about a reckless energy transition – leave little room for high-priced coal and gas in the West Virginia. The US will still consume some coal, gas and oil in 2030 – but low-cost producers, such as coal from Wyoming, gas from the Gulf of Mexico and oil from the Persian Gulf, will dominate the captured markets that narrow. In a rapidly decarbonizing economy, there is little room for the shrinking West Virginia coal seams, or more than $60 a barrel of oil in Texas.

Unfortunately, Manchin’s solution – essentially slowing down the transition – required him to short America. Short road. Biden’s conversion rate – or BBB – barely helps the US compete in the global marketplace.

Look at the numbers. BBB will cut US carbon emissions by 45%. The EU, already ahead of the game, has committed to 55%. BBB tries to finance 450 gigawatts of US wind and solar construction. China has committed to providing 1200 GW of renewable energy, and even India, whose power sector is dwarfed by the US, is planning 500 GW.

So if the clean energy transition strategy “come to third or fourth” (more or less what BBB offers) is too ambitious for Manchin, his approach requires the US suffer even more with its reliance on outdated coal, oil and gas technologies – in other words, even falling behind Europe, China and India in the race to the future.

But Manchin’s choice of Fox News as the venue to announce his abandonment of his pledge to work with Democrats on its main better-build back bill shows that he’s as focused on his move as he is. How about when you get home? And the voice of the homeland that needs to be mobilized most is the business community.

That’s because the second major driver of Manchin’s betrayal was a campaign orchestrated by a narrow business section in West Virginia determined to lock the American economy into dirty fossil fuel energy and can not compete. Manchin’s arguments for slowing the energy transition came from America Power, a coal industry trade organization. Tech-neutral tax credits, formerly one of the most bipartisan energy policy tools, are suddenly being viewed by the West Virginia coal industry as a deadly threat – because, quite simply , they allow for faster replacement of incumbent technologies that are no longer competitive.

NYT reported that the West Virginia Coal Association had told Manchin that “the credits … in the bill would lead to a near-complete replacement of coal production.” Here is it. American coal is no longer competitive. Only by cutting finance for innovation in other energy sectors can it survive.

This is the political path forward. If a business segment in West Virginia is fading, the use of more than half what it was a decade ago, has caused Manchin to drop his commitment to innovation, the rest of the state’s business community can bring him back. Data centers, powered by clean energy, are the fastest-growing customers in the state’s utilities. Wood products, chemicals, metals and glass; healthcare and pharmaceuticals; Aviation and auto manufacturing – the rest of West Virginia’s economy – are both consumers of energy, not producers. They offer enormous benefits, and in some cases, demand the rapid development of cheaper, cleaner energy. There is no benefit from an America strangled by expensive and polluting fossil fuel power.

Certainly no country has thrived in a country where investment in energy innovation is difficult because that innovation replaces outdated technologies.

Will the fossil fuel industry succeed in destroying America’s economic future? Joe Manchin’s vote could be decisive. Business – especially business in West Virginia – was key to that vote.

America’s past should not stifle West Virginia’s options. Nor should West Virginia’s past betray America’s future.

Manchin’s mind:

https://www.salon.com/2022/01/01/what-joe-manchin-wants/ What Joe Manchin wants | Salon.com

Caroline Bleakley

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