Behind Manchin’s Opposition, a Long History of Fighting Climate Measures

"Senator Joe Manchin III noted climate policy when he said he would vote against the Build Back Better Act. In his life and career, West Virginia coal has loomed large."

"WASHINGTON — Senator Joe Manchin III on Monday cited a litany of issues that drove him to oppose President Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better bill, from Democrats’ refusal to attach work requirements to social benefits to their failure to raise tax rates on the rich. But left almost unsaid was the issue that has always propelled his political career as a Democratic maverick: climate change.

The version of the bill that passed the House last month devoted $555 billion to shifting the nation to renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, and away from fossil fuels like West Virginia coal. Mr. Manchin, who defied gale-force political headwinds in 2010 by running for the Senate on his opposition to President Barack Obama’s climate change legislation, killed a provision in Build Back Better that would have imposed stiff penalties on electric utilities that continued to burn coal and natural gas.

But even with the stick dropped from the House’s bill, West Virginia’s coal interests were working hard to kill off the measure’s carrot, a package of tax credits to make clean energy more financially competitive, and, by extension, struggling coal even less so. Their lobbyists talked frequently to Mr. Manchin."

Jonathan Weisman and Lisa Friedman report for the New York Times December 20, 2021.

Source: NYTimes, 12/22/2021