Manchin may be ready to kill Biden's climate promise

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 26, is pretty much wrapped up at this point. Activists and climate alarmists have almost uniformly expressed their disappointment in what they view as a lack of “progress” in terms of countries making solid commitments to alter their policies and reduce carbon emissions and the generation of other greenhouse gases. Compromises had to be made with India and other nations that still rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels to keep their economies moving. But the conference did manage to elicit one very high-level promise from the leader of the free world. American President Joe Biden took to the stage and pledged that the United States would slash its methane emissions by 30 percent in just the next nine years. We’ll get to some of the reasons why that was a sketchy promise to make in a moment, but Biden has one far more immediate hurdle potentially standing in his way. And as is the case in so many other ongoing policy debates, the name of that hurdle is Joe Manchin. (The Hill)

President Biden’s pledge at the Glasgow climate summit to help slash methane emissions by 30 percent over the next nine years faces the significant obstacle of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who could embarrass the administration if he slaps down a proposal to tax methane.

The methane fee was rumored to have been jettisoned from the reconciliation package and Democratic senators such as Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) have redoubled their effort to get it included.

But there is no deal yet, and Manchin is warning he won’t support anything that would penalize the oil and natural gas industries.

There are two ways to look at this. One possibility is that Manchin is completely serious and he plans to go to the mat over not having any new taxes on the oil and gas industry, particularly the coal mining interests of his constituents in West Virginia. And since he’s gotten pretty much everything else he’s asked for in the BBB bill thus far, he has little reason to doubt he’ll get this also.

But let’s not forget that Manchin also has a proven track record of generating headlines and headaches for his party by opposing certain Democratic initiatives in public, only to cave at the last moment and vote for them in the interest of party unity. He’s already claimed enough scalps over the entire BBB package to be able to say that he’s won the war without having to win every last individual battle. I’m not going to be particularly shocked if he caves.

One analyst is quoted as saying that would be “completely embarrassing for Biden if someone in his own party blocked a major initiative that he just announced.” That may be true, but if so. whose fault is that? When you go and announce a new initiative that you have no ability to implement on your own without securing the deal back at home first, you’re setting yourself up for potential failure. In reality, Biden made that pledge just to generate a good headline out of a conference that was largely seen as stalling if not failing in its purpose. So now he gets to deal with the blowback on the home front.

That brings us back to the problematic nature of Biden’s “pledge” at the summit. It had no teeth and no real meaning beyond a statement of intent. If anything, it had even less teeth than the climate “treaty” that Barack Obama agreed to and Donald Trump pulled us out of. Joe Biden can’t commit the United States to a treaty without Congress passing it first. It says so right in the Constitution. And the output of that climate summit was even less binding than the previous agreement.

The bottom line is that Joe Biden went on an overseas trip and made a promise that he had no ability to enforce. He can’t impose new taxes by executive mandate, particularly when they have nothing to do with the pandemic. If Joe Manchin hangs him out to dry now, Biden will have been the one that strung the clothes line up for him.

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