Manchin called out by climate change’s powerful voice: ‘A modern-day villain who drives a Maserati and lives on a yacht courtesy of the coal industry’

‘[Sen. Joe Manchin] is a modern-day villain, who drives a Maserati, lives on a yacht courtesy of the coal industry, and is willing to see the world burn as long as it benefits his near-term investment portfolio.’

That’s a swing from oft-quoted Pennsylvania State University scientist and published author Michael Mann, responding Friday to reports that Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia would get in the way of legislative progress for the Biden administration’s push to slow climate change.

President Joe Biden, as part of a sweeping spending bill that’s been reduced to the dregs of its nearly $2 trillion beginnings, wanted to give Americans incentives for pollution-fighting electric cars, solar energy and more.

Read: Activists swarm Joe Manchin’s Maserati as he tries to leave parking garage

“Given the U.S.’s role as the leading all-time carbon polluter, it is difficult to see global action on climate without U.S. leadership,” added Mann, the Penn State climatologist, speaking to the Guardian. By some measures, China is considered the world’s largest polluter, with the U.S. in second, depending on whether a per-capita comparison is used.

Solar stocks were hit hard Friday by word of Manchin’s continued opposition to climate spending.

Mann later tagged Manchin in a tweet, half-heartedly joking that he “held back a bit” in his characterization of Manchin’s lobbyist and election-contribution affiliations. The senator holds a powerful spot as chair of the energy committee.

West Virginia newspaper coverage of Manchin’s seaworthy vessel has characterized it as more houseboat than yacht, citing boating experts who say the “Almost Heaven” doesn’t quite rank as a luxury liner.

Manchin, often referred to as a moderate Democrat but one known to back the traditional energy output of his home state and generally siding with Republicans in pushing U.S. energy independence from the Middle East and Russia, has made clear his reluctance to keep climate change and energy proposals in a last-ditch budget reconciliation bill.

Manchin has said high inflation shouldn’t be allowed to be worsened by what he sees as policy driving up gasoline prices.

“No matter what spending aspirations some in Congress may have, it is clear to anyone who visits a grocery store or a gas station that we cannot add any more fuel to this inflation fire,” Manchin said earlier this week.

Manchin last year blocked the roughly $2 trillion version of the Democratic-drafted Build Back Better bill, pressing for a smaller plan. That bill’s considerable climate focus was deemed the largest-ever U.S. effort on the pressing issue and was widely praised by other industrial economic giants.

In all, Biden and fellow Democrats have spent nearly two years trying to get Manchin, a critical vote in a closely divided Senate, to agree to a huge package of support for renewable energy
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Democrats now appear to have run out of time, with the end of the fiscal year looming in September and November’s midterm elections historically likely to see congressional control switch to the Republicans, according to polling. New surveys do show a tougher road suddenly for the GOP in Senate races.

At least one policy analyst saw a slim chance some form of energy tax credits might squeak through in a November interim session. And Biden vowed new executive orders to make up the congressional gap on climate.

Republicans, and Democrats from states linked to traditional energy, aren’t as staunchly opposed to mitigating climate change using both government and private-sector prowess as they’ve been in earlier decades, surveys show.

But the party broadly wants efforts that favor nuclear energy, natural gas, and carbon capture and storage in the energy mix.

Read: Carbon capture, nuclear and hydrogen feature in most net-zero emissions plans and need greater investment: report

And they want polluters such as China and India to play a bigger role in curbing emissions. With climate change, and most private-sector endeavors, they back lighter regulation. In fact, the conservative-majority Supreme Court just ruled on limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s reach in demanding fewer emissions by power plants.

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