Manchin’s climate change: Climate groups react

US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is back in a basement office meeting with fellow Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Angus King (I-ME). ), (not pictured) at the US Capitol in Washington on December 15, 2021.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Environmental groups reacted with surprise after US Senate Democrats struck a deal on sweeping climate change and clean energy legislation, a bill that could help cut the country’s carbon emissions by 40% by the end of the decade.

After lengthy negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Wednesday announced a long-awaited reconciliation package that would fund $369 billion to reduce emissions, manufacture clean energy products. and advancing environmental justice initiatives, among others.

Early versions of the bill included $555 billion in tax credits for clean energy that would reduce carbon emissions. Still, clean energy advocates and climate groups praised the new deal for including clean energy tax credits that could create thousands of new jobs and encourage domestic renewable energy.

“The entire clean energy industry has become very complacent,” said Heather Zichal, head of the renewable energy group American Clean Power. “This is an 11th-hour reprieve for climate action and clean energy jobs, and America’s biggest legislative push for climate and energy policy.”

Climate activists touted a slew of wins in the legislation, including $60 trillion for environmental justice programs, $20 trillion for climate-friendly agricultural practices and $1 billion to boost domestic manufacturing of batteries, solar power and electric vehicles.

Climate protesters march to the White House on October 12, 2021 in Washington.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Sponsors of the legislation also noted that the bill would go a long way toward achieving President Joe Biden’s pledge to achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

“To borrow President Biden’s line, this is a big deal,” Sierra Club President Ramón Cruz said in a statement. “This legislation will save money for families across the country, ensure that each of us can live and work in a healthy community, and create good, sustainable jobs.”

Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the deal “the ultimate comeback for clean energy,” the strongest climate action at a time when we need it most.

He reserved some criticism, however. “This is not a bill that we would have written. It is time to break, not deepen, our dependence on fossil fuels and all the harm and dangers they bring,” said Bapna in a statement. “But this is a package we cannot ignore.”

Critical of new oil and gas leases

However, some groups strongly criticized the agreement’s support for fossil fuel projects, specifically provisions that would mandate new oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Manchin, who hails from coal-rich West Virginia, has argued that drilling in those areas is necessary to achieve the country’s energy independence.

“We need to start investing in renewable energy without encouraging new mining under 150-year-old mining laws that fail to protect people and the environment from harm,” said Earthworks policy director Lauren Pagel. “We need to cut climate pollution by stopping fossil fuel construction instead of cutting fast-track permitting deals for more dirty energy infrastructure.”

Activists have argued that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, all new oil and gas drilling on US land and water will need to be halted and existing operations phased out. Drilling on public lands accounts for roughly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is a climate suicide treaty,” said Brett Hartl, director of government affairs at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is self-defeating to hand the development of renewable energy to massive oil and gas extraction.”

“The new lease called for in this bill will fan the flames of the climate catastrophes that are burning our country, and it’s a slap in the face to communities struggling to protect themselves from dirty fossil fuels,” Hartl said.

If passed and signed into law, the act would be the largest climate investment ever made by Congress. The Senate will vote on the bill next week, after which it will go to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Manchin’s climate change: Climate groups react

Source link Manchin’s climate change: Climate groups react

Back to top button