Manchin surrounded by climate activists chanting ‘we want to live’ amid battle over Biden agenda

Manchin is seen as top roadblock to greater investment in green energy among Democrats

John Bowden
Thursday 04 November 2021 16:30 EDT
Senator Manchin surrounded by climate protesters chanting 'We want to live'

Sen Joe Manchin found himself once again targeted by furious environmental activists as news reports indicated that Democrats on Capitol Hill remained unsure if he would support the infrastructure and climate agenda being championed by President Joe Biden.

The West Virginia Democrat was followed by members of the youth-led Sunrise Movement through the streets of Washington early Thursday morning as he headed to Capitol Hill from his houseboat anchored in the city’s wharf.

“We want to live!” the activists were heard chanting in the video.

A spokesperson for the Sunrise Movement stated on Twitter that the protest occurred as Mr Manchin “once again declines @POTUS’ Build Back Better Act, holding hostage significant investments in climate”.

Mr Manchin’s opposition was reported earlier this year to be the main reason why climate provisions were scaled back in the president’s two-pronged infrastructure agenda, and now only includes tax credits for green energy projects rather than previous progressive plans to fund electric vehicle infrastructure around the country. The Build Back Better agenda also includes a tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles.

In September, he questioned why the federal government would incentivise green energy at all, and claimed that US companies were heading into the direction of fully renewable energy use already. There’s little to no reason to believe that the majority of the US energy sector will decarbonise in time to meet the Biden administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half before 2030.

"Now they're wanting to pay companies to do what they're already doing," said the senator on CNN. "Makes no sense to me at all for us to take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they're going to do as the market transitions."

Nevertheless, the legislation still represents the first serious effort by the US to begin to address climate change in years, following the reign of the Trump administration which saw climate denialism and anti-environmentalist sentiment return to the federal government.

Mr Biden was hoping to be able to tout his administration’s record on addressing climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow this week, but returned to Washington instead with his agenda still very much in question.

Lawmakers have reportedly signaled plans to vote on both parts of the infrastructure package this week, but have seen their votes delayed twice already due to various disputes between the Democratic Party’s conservative and progressive wings.

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