Did Joe Manchin Just Kill Biden’s Build Back Better Bill?

Did Joe Manchin just put the final focus on Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion “Build Back Better” bill? It sounds like it, if we take literally what he said to Bret Baier in “Fox News Sunday” today:

“If I can’t go home and explain to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” Manchin said. “And I cannot vote to continue with this bill. I can not. I tried everything humanly possible. I can’t do it. It is a no to this bill. I have tried everything I can do.

Most of the media coverage of the BBB bill has focused on the provision that would maintain and expand the current child tax credit, as well as other extensions of the government’s social safety net program package. country. But the bill also contains a second larger tranche of funding for the Biden administration’s Green New Deal program – following a first tranche contained in the infrastructure bill passed in November – including grants. new and expanded for wind and solar power, as well as electric vehicles. . The total funding related to the Green New Deal in this bill is estimated at $ 555 billion.

The BBB bill was passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year, but has been stuck in the Senate for weeks as Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden worked unsuccessfully with Machin and the Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema to try to resolve the two Senators. various objections to the legislation as it is currently conceived. Senator Manchin claimed in midsummer that he could not support any bill costing more than $ 1.5 trillion, and has maintained that position ever since, reluctantly raising it to 1.75 $ in October as negotiations continued. But a new revised estimate of the actual cost of the Congressional Budget Office bill earlier this week, indicating that the bill would add up to $ 3 trillion to federal deficits over the next 10 years, made the reaching an even more difficult agreement.

Congress adjourned this week for the remainder of the year, putting an end to any hope of a Senate vote on BBB before Christmas, the last moving target Schumer set for himself in late November. Speculation during that week had centered on the likelihood that Schumer would put the bill back on the Senate agenda when Congress resumed in January. Manchin’s statement on Sunday seems to put an end to that prospect.

Deleting this bill would represent a significant setback to the prospects for dramatic expansion of renewable energy and electric vehicles, not only in the United States, but around the world, given that America has been a pioneer in the industry. renewable space over the past 20 years. This in turn risks reducing the continued capacity of states like Texas – whose grid has become increasingly unstable as ERCOT managers attempt to manage the increasing loads of intermittent and unpredictable power sources – to continue to pile more and more wind and solar power onto the grid at the expense of building adequate new base load capacity fueled by natural gas or nuclear power.

BBB’s death and its major additional subsidy for renewables and electric vehicles – which Biden recently boasted of as a record amount by any government – will also make it increasingly difficult to meet the climate targets set by the International Energy Agency. The IEA reported earlier this week that coal use is reaching record highs in India and China – the two largest users of coal in the world – and called on the two countries to speed up the implementation of climate commitments recently. taken.

Keisuke Sadamori, Director of Energy and Security Markets, said: “The promises to achieve net zero emissions made by many countries, including China and India, are expected to have very strong implications for coal. – but these are not yet visible in our short-term forecasts. , reflecting the major gap between ambitions and action.

Of course, countries’ constant desire to continue to depend on fossil fuels to generate reliable and scalable energy for their economies and security is not limited to China and India. This was demonstrated this week by natural gas prices reaching new record highs in Europe as the UK, Germany and other EU countries scrambled to ensure an adequate supply of natural gas. to allow their population to get through the coming winter. This potentially disastrous circumstance was precipitated by the failure of the wind industry to operate as planned during 2021.

Doug Sheridan, CEO and founder of EnergyPoint Research, said Friday that “the inherent intermittency of renewables has been exposed as the Achilles heel of the energy transition. The habit of developers of confusing the gross capacities of renewable energy installations with their net capacities has also contributed to the growing feeling of underperformance. If only good storytelling would keep the lights on. “

Senator Manchin’s comments today also expose the heavy reliance on government subsidies by renewables and electric vehicles as another Achilles heel in the energy equation. President Biden and the Democrats in Congress will no doubt scramble to resurrect these Green New Deal provisions in a new form next year. But the prospect of their party’s tiny Congressional majorities overtaking them in an election year seems pretty dim from that perspective.

Good storytelling doesn’t keep the lights on, as Sheridan suggests, and as things go, relying on congressional funding to do it is also a bad plan.

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