West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has been saying the Build Back Better's climate measures are risky for months. His rejection of a stripped-down version butchers President Biden's plans to reduce carbon emissions. As required his support in order for it to pass in the Senate, where Democrats have an ultra-slim majority. However, Manchin's criticisms of the bill's climate provisions are inaccurate.
On Sunday Manchin released a statement explaining his decision. "The energy transition my colleagues seek is already well underway." He means the transition from fossil fuels to wind, solar and other forms of renewable power. Though it's true the U.S. is shifting away from fossil fuels, it's happening at a slow rate.
Manchin accused his fellow Democrats of wanting to "dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face," citing the national debt. He added he'd never forgotten a decade-old warning from the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the "greatest threat facing the nation was the national debt." In October the Pentagon said climate change is an existential threat, that's already challenging U.S. security. A report done by the Department of Defense stated "increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are exacerbating existing risks."
Manchin added that the transition to clean energy at such a fast rate could harm us. "To do so at a rate that is faster than technology or the markets allow will have catastrophic consequences for the American people like we have seen in both Texas and California in the last two years." He is quoting the major power outages that have occurred in those states. Many conservative politicians pointed a finger at solar or wind power. Energy experts say otherwise, saying it occurred due to the lack of preparation for increasingly extreme weather events.
West Virginia is a coal-producing state. The coal industry is the backbone of West Virginia's economy. Manchin's family also owns a coal company, which he helped start, and from which he reported making almost half a million dollars last year. President Biden's climate proposals, which intended to drastically cut coal-fired power, might have harmed that business.