West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III urged Democrats to drop or weaken a second major climate change provision in the sweeping social and environmental spending bill that the White House hopes to finalize this week, say two people close to it folder.
Mr Manchin, a centrist Democrat in one of the country’s main coal and gas-producing states, wants to remove or change a provision that would impose a levy on emissions of methane, a potent pollutant that warms the planet and is oil and gas escapes. well. He has already managed to strip the bill of its most powerful provision on climate change, a program that would have quickly shut down coal and gas power plants and replaced them with wind and solar power.
Democrats are rushing to finalize the details of the massive budget bill this week. President Biden is expected to attend a major climate summit this weekend in Glasgow, Scotland, where he hopes to highlight the bill to argue that the United States, the world’s biggest greenhouse polluter, are finally taking strong and decisive action to reduce its fossil fuel emissions – and to push other countries to do the same. Mr Biden pledged that the United States would reduce its emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.
Analysts have found that it will be technically possible, albeit difficult, for the United States to achieve this goal without passing the clean electricity legislation that Manchin opposes. The larger spending program still includes around $ 300 billion in wind and solar tax credits, which analysts say could put the United States halfway on Mr. Biden. But removing the methane fee legislation could further weaken Mr Biden’s case in Glasgow.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Manchin did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokeswoman for the senator who drafts the methane fee legislation said it has yet to be removed from the bill.
“The methane levy is not part of the package,” said Rachel Levitan, spokeswoman for Senator Thomas Carper, the Delaware Democrat who heads the Senate Environment Committee. “President Carper is working to secure strong climate provisions in the reconciliation bill and is in active negotiations to ensure that the bill significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. “
Another person familiar with the matter said Mr Manchin appeared willing to negotiate the details of the methane royalty in order to make it easier and cheaper for natural gas companies to comply.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release draft regulations this week that would require oil and gas producers to monitor and plug methane leaks from existing oil and gas wells. One of Manchin’s objections to the methane pollution charge is that it could duplicate these rules, according to the two people familiar with the matter.
While Senate Democratic leaders have promised the broader budget legislation – which could be between 5,000 and 10,000 pages – would be completed this week, people familiar with the process said Democrats were more likely to agree. a general framework of agreement. before Mr Biden travels to Glasgow, and that he should make a point to the world that lawmakers would indeed pass the bill soon.
“The whole world knows the name Manchin now,” said Rich Gold, a Democratic energy lobbyist and former EPA adviser. “So if he’s able to go to Glasgow and say, here’s the piece of paper representing the deal, and here’s Senator Manchin’s name at the bottom, I think the Germans will agree.”