Part Infinity of the Climate Bill Rope-A-Dope: Joe Manchin Caving (Or Does He?)

Last night, US Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin and New York Senator and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement that included this gem: We have reached agreement on a piece of legislation that, over the course of the next 10 years, will devote almost $300 billion to programs for deficit reduction and $369.75 billion to combating climate change. This is the result of months of negotiations. Let’s look and see what the commotion is about before Senator Manchin pulls a Lucy and steals the legislative football away.

WHAT DOES $369.75 BILLION GET USED FOR IN THE NEW CLIMATE BILL? It would be accurate to claim that the new climate measure doesn’t go far enough in terms of money. However, as the expression goes, it’s preferable than a kick in the pants. It’s actually a lot better.

In order to put the climate bill into perspective, the grid management system MISO earlier this week unveiled a package of 18 new transmission line projects investments totaling $10.3 billion. the Clean Grid Alliance estimates that this additional capacity will enable the development of 53 gigawatts of new wind, solar, hybrid, and battery-based energy storage projects.

According to the Clean Grid Alliance, “that’s enough” to power nearly 12 million homes and 21.3 thousand jobs. We may anticipate roughly 333,000 jobs overall from the transmission work and renewable resource construction as about 120,000 employment are also expected to result from the transmission work.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO for short, serves 15 states that run down the middle of the country, including the windy states of Iowa and the Dakotas. They are undoubtedly preparing for the energy transition, climate bill or no.

What is the New Climate Bill, then? It appears that the controversy centered on the bill’s name. Build Back Better was the original moniker, and it suggested an emphasis on new infrastructure investments meant to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint and strengthen resilience in the face of catastrophic climate impacts, such as those occurring right now.

The climate measure was first drafted in the fall of last year, but it has been postponed for several months due to Senator Manchin’s insistence that it doesn’t matter what he was insisting on. All this time, he stood by himself and supported that law.

To be fair, the climate bill was also blocked by all 50 Republican senators. They have teamed up against Build Back Better in unison.

Without any Republican support, Democrats will require the support of all 50 senators on their side of the aisle, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote with her 51st vote. For reasons best known to himself, Senator Manchin was the only person who, up until yesterday night, could stop the bill from passing by refusing to caucus with his Democratic colleagues.

That’s all over now; unless, of course, Manchin changes his mind once more.

Climate change provisions are still included in the package if he follows through this time, but it is no longer referred to as Build Back Better. Now known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. ,

WHOSE ACT OF 2022 TO REDUCE INFLATION IS IT? The name change was actually a very clever move. Inflation is a hot topic right now, especially among Republican candidates for office who hope to capitalize on it in the lead-up to the crucial November midterm elections.

That pitch has been completely destroyed by the trivial issue of a name change. Republicans in Congress will appear, well, foolish if they don’t support the climate bill, also known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The Republican Party as a whole will appear foolish. They will be in a tangle attempting to explain that while inflation is bad, Congress shouldn’t try to address it since it is also bad after whining about inflation for the entire year.

A description of the climate legislation may be found in yesterday’s joint statement from Senators Manchin and Schumer. The key phrase is this:

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will put a historic down payment on deficit reduction to combat inflation, invest in local manufacturing and energy production, and cut carbon emissions by almost 40% by 2030. With the passage of the bill, millions of Americans will now be able to negotiate cheaper healthcare prices and access to Medicare for prescription pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, we have a deal with Speaker Pelosi and President Biden to complete comprehensive permitting reform legislation before the end of this fiscal year. We kindly request the support of every U.S. Senator for this significant piece of legislation.

THE CLIMATE BILL IS MORE COMPREHENSIVE THAN FIRST APPEARS Hmm, comprehensive permitting reform legislation. Most likely, our MISO friends are familiar with its significance. To save red tape, MISO made a point of planning its new transmission projects primarily along existing rights-of-way, but it is evident that such ambitious plans must go through standard approval procedures.

The agreement with Senator Manchin over the new climate bill says the following about that

Before the conclusion of the fiscal year, complete permitting reform legislation must be passed, according to the agreement. Reforming the permitting process is necessary to enable domestic energy and trans shipment projects, which will reduce consumer costs and assist us in achieving our long-term emissions targets.

There may be some room for fossil fuels somewhere in there. The crucial words, though, are longer-term carbon targets and lower consumer costs.

The Senate Democrats have also published a fuller version of the bill’s summary online. Check out the $500 million allocated for heat pumps and critical materials in the Defense Production Act if you think we talk about heat pumps too much here at CleanTechnica.

WHAT, THEN, DID JOE MANCHINS’ MIND CHANGE? Have at it in the comment section since there is plenty of room on the Joe Manchin bingo card to speculate as to why he now supports the climate measure.

Manchin may be feeling the pressure from wind, solar, geothermal, and energy storage developers , who are keen to earn money in West Virginia, according to one reliable theory. The US Department of Energy has been promoting new job-creating clean power projects for underserved rural regions, while the United Mine Workers of America labor union has been lobbying policymakers to convert old coal communities into new green jobs.

In addition, the state-owned Department of Economic Establishment ( features a wind energy image ) mentions new legislation allowing for the development of large-scale solar systems on abandoned mining sites at the top of its web page.

Another plausible theory is that Manchin wants to make sure West Virginia receives a piece of the new hydrogen economy pie in order to maintain good relations with his friends in the natural gas industry. After all, West Virginia is a major natural gas producer, and the Department of Energy has started allocating millions in new funds for fresh clean hydrogen projects.

Natural gas is currently the main source of hydrogen, therefore it seems reasonable that Manchin would advocate for the fossil energy economic interests of his home state in the context of the hydrogen economy. The issue is that clean hydrogen thing. Standard gas-to-hydrogen systems are not of interest to the Energy Department unless they are coupled with carbon capture facilities.

Selling the carbon capture idea is difficult. Since there are now alternate sources of hydrogen, natural gas just isn’t good enough for consumers who want the cleanest possible hydrogen.

Possibly unknown to Senator Manchin, such alternate sources are growing quickly. Green hydrogen production from renewable resources is becoming more and more affordable. The majority of the activity is concentrated on electrolysis systems that use solar or wind energy to force hydrogen gas out of water. Biomass and biogas can also be used to produce hydrogen.

Even Texas, the hub of US oil and gas production, is getting ready to launch a new green hydrogen hub by putting its wind and solar resources as well as other energy infrastructure into use. From coast to coast, other hubs are emerging. One such hub is a potent four-state green hydrogen alliance connecting New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

The key is that this clean hydrogen charade doesn’t fool anyone. No one is duped by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, either. Whatever name you give it, the measure still relates to climate change.

@TinaMCasey , follow me on Twitter.

Photo: The new climate bill may be advantageous for West Virginia ( Black Rock wind farm in Grant and Mineral counties courtesy of West Virginia Department of Economic Development).

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