Nov 10th, 2021, 03:42 PM

Biden's Climate Plan vs. Joe Manchin's Growing Power

By Christina Alvarez-Correa
Image credit: Unsplash/Markus Spiske
West Virginia's Joe Manchin's increasing power is causing problems for the Biden administration.

Biden’s 150 billion dollar climate plan came to a standstill at the hands of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. As a result, the Biden administration is now reevaluating the plan and acclimating to the climate criteria needed from West Virginia. In a recent turn of events, Manchin has proven his power within the Senate and over the trajectory of Biden's climate plan. This past week he scored big in passing a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, as well as pursuing a book deal. 

​​The election of Joe Biden was set to finally usher in America’s role as the global leader in the fight against climate change. Never in the history of mankind have we faced such an existential threat and American ingenuity, determination, and leadership were going to see us through the crisis. The world heaved a collective sigh of relief and then Joe Manchin single-handedly changed the country’s course.

The Build Back Better Plan is part of Biden's pioneering tax agenda to empower blue collar Americans, cutting taxes for working families and raising them for larger and wealthier corporations. In addition, the plan is striving to develop sustainable technologies to create jobs for a cleaner economy.  

Joe Manchin, the senior Democratic senator from West Virginia is making a name for himself by rebuffing his own party’s hefty goals for climate action. The Build Back Better plan initially was to include The Green New Deal supported by the progressive wing of the party. There are hints of it still in the Build Back Better plan which aims to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, far short of the progressive’s goal of 2035. 

Image credit: Unsplash/Patrick Hendry


Despite scientific consensus being virtually at 100% in believing man has created and must fix climate change, Manchin's stance remains baffling until you dig into the circumstances driving his glaringly right-wing choices.   

Manchin has done a reasonable job of coming across as a 'Man of the People' politician. While in Washington D.C. he resides in a modest houseboat – yacht to his most ardent critics - and was recently quite affable to climate protesters in kayaks who approached the vessel to plead with him on The Green New Deal. The protestors were West Virginians and Manchin showed his political savvy by taking time to speak to them from his deck. That is all he did. 

Manchin’s ties to the coal and fracking industries in West Virginia are well known. His career before politics was in the coal business where he made his fortune. His company Enersystems is now run by his son and paid the senator over 500 thousand dollars in dividends in 2020. This is a man who does not want to see the end of the coal industry even though he acknowledges the climate crisis is manmade. 

This past Friday, progressives conceded to Manchin's demands and passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, handing $6 billion to West Virginia to improve infrastructure. Unfortunately, this money won't be utilized within the constraints and ambitions of Biden's Build Back Better Plan and progressives are wondering how Manchin's growing power will affect the future of Biden's climate proposals. Many progressives believe that allowing Manchin this leverage over the House will deeply harm Biden's climate plan and deter the progressives from passing significant legislation that will propel the climate plan into the right direction.    

In the midst of the negotiations, Manchin has begun drafting a book proposal, a classic move from decorated Washington politicians. The book's content will most likely center on his battle with the Biden administration and progressive's eager climate goals.

Giving a climate resister such notoriety in the current circumstances is incredibly dangerous to future developments in pushing the U.S. to become a greener nation. Not only does it allow people to question the legitimacy and importance of putting climate action at the forefront of U.S. priorities, it will put delays in the overall globe's climate agenda during the last few years of opportunity to reverse crucial damage.   

Joe Manchin is a politician in the national spotlight and is as influential as one can be as a sitting senator in the U.S. Congress. He is the epitome of how Washington works for corporations and those in power. If Manchin was representing a more liberal state and had made his wealth in a host of other sectors, his views on the climate crisis would be vastly different. As much as Manchin has marketed himself as a man of conviction, willing to hear all views and negotiate across the aisle, he is at his core a typical Washington politician looking out for his personal interests and doing his best to get re-elected. Joe Manchin may have very well won his battle over the progressive wing of his party but the entire planet has lost the war against climate change.