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Manchin agrees to energy bill that could include new EV incentives

Joe Manchin is nothing if not unpredictable. He reportedly receives more money from the fossil fuel industry than any other senator, and he’s become a bête noire for fans of EVs and renewable energy. However, his opposition to new transport and energy technology is not absolute—in April, he attended a ribbon-cutting for a battery factory that will be built in his home state of West Virginia.

Who knows what goes on behind the scenes in the sausage-making shops of Washington? At this point, no one claims to know what changed Mr. Manchin’s mind, but he reportedly worked with Chuck Schumer to craft a bill dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes several energy- and tax-related measures that Democrats have been pushing for, and it is to go the Senate floor next week.  

“It’s like two brothers from different mothers, I guess,” said Manchin of Schumer. “He gets pissed off, I get pissed off, and we’ll go back and forth. He basically put out statements, and the dogs came after me again. We just worked through it.”

The package would appropriate some $369 billion for climate and energy proposals, which the New York Times called “the most ambitious climate action ever taken by Congress.”

In an interesting twist, Manchin said the deal includes new EV-related incentives, which he has resisted in the past. It includes incentives to make new car batteries in America “and not only be able to assemble them, but be able to extract the minerals that we need, critical minerals, in North America.”

According to the New York Times, the proposed package includes: $30 billion in production tax credits for solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and critical minerals processing; $10 billion in tax credits to build clean technology manufacturing facilities; and $500 million to be used through the Defense Production Act for heat pumps and critical minerals processing.

The deal also includes a means-tested $7,500 tax credit for new EVs and a $4,000 tax credit for used EVs, both of which would be offered only to lower- and middle-income consumers.

Other climate-related measures include a methane fee, a program to address the burden of pollution on low-income communities, a “green bank” to support clean energy projects, and measures to cut agriculture emissions.

Democrats are delighted, Republicans rueful.

“This is the action the American people have been waiting for,” said President Biden, calling on the House and Senate to quickly pass the measure. “This addresses the problems of today — high health care costs and overall inflation — as well as investments in our energy security for the future.”

“At least we’re using the word ‘climate.’ It’s a good start,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said he couldn’t believe Manchin was “agreeing to a massive tax increase in the name of climate change when our economy is in a recession.”

The bill also includes efforts to make fossil fuels cleaner, Manchin said, as well as to increase oil and gas production to help European allies deal with the reduction in supplies from Russia.

Make no mistake, Mr. Manchin remains a fan of fossil fuels— in a statement that highlighted investments in fossil fuels along with renewables, he called the plan a “realistic energy and climate policy” that will “allow us to decarbonize while ensuring American energy is affordable, reliable, clean and secure.”

“As the superpower of the world, it is vital we not undermine our superpower status by removing dependable and affordable fossil fuel energy before new technologies are ready to reliably carry the load,” said he.

Sources: Politico, New York Times

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