Joe Manchin Is Once Again Setting Climate Hopes on Fire

Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) departs a vote at the U.S. Capitol July 11, 2022.

Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) departs a vote at the U.S. Capitol July 11, 2022.
Photo: Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO (AP)

After negotiations that sparked hope in the hearts of Democratic lawmakers on finally reviving some of the President’s climate policy, coal-rich, Maserati-owning West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has brought up a new round of concerns. This time, it’s about the nation’s historic 9.1% inflation rate.

“No matter what spending aspirations some in Congress may have, it is clear to anyone who visits a grocery store or a gas station that we cannot add any more fuel to this inflation fire,” Manchin said this week.

Democrats in the Senate are hustling to pass a historic climate-centered spending bill before the August recess. Last week, talks between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Manchin began to show some signs of promise that Manchin would eventually yield his approval for the current version of the bill, Politico reported. But as of this week, Manchin says he’s too worried about skyrocketing prices, which has set back the negotiations between him and the Democratic lawmakers eager to get his approval as soon as possible.

Manchin said that he wasn’t comfortable supporting the bill beyond a proposal that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription prices. If passed, the spending package would address climate issues by implementing a clean energy tax and fees for methane emitters. It would also raise taxes on the rich and lower prescription drug costs.

This won’t be possible without Manchin’s support. In hopes of getting Manchin on board with the climate-related tax credits and emissions fees in the spending bill, the White House has hinted that it may agree to allow drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, and even approve a West Virginia pipeline, the Washington Post reported this week.

The current bill is just a sliver of what it could have been. Last year’s “Build Back Better” bill aimed to allocate more than $550 billion to combat climate change and boost investment in cleaner energy in the country. This included more than $300 billion in tax credits for renewable energies and electric vehicles. The bill narrowly passed in the House last November, becoming the first climate change legislation passed since 2009. But the bill has been gutted during Senate negotiations throughout this year. 

Manchin was especially against the $12,500 EV tax credit originally included. The proposal included increasing the existing up to $7,500 credit for EVs, that was implemented back in 2010, by $4,500 to encourage drivers to purchase electric vehicles made by union workers. The bill also included an additional $500 credit for cars that use batteries that were made with at least half U.S.-based manufacturing. Depending on their vehicle’s brand, some drivers could have received up to $12,500 in credits if their new car met the union-made and U.S.-manufactured criteria. But the extra $4,500 for union-made cars was scrapped from the spending bill last month, and Manchin rejoiced.

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