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"Any final deal must meet the climate test of cutting climate pollution in half by 2030," said Sierra Club. "Right now, that means including the CEPP, and that is why environmental advocates have fought for it as an important priority." (Photo: Matt Wiebe/CC BY 2.0)

Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos

Advocates for bold action to slash planet-heating emissions expressed concern Friday and Saturday following reports that a key climate program in the still-evolving reconciliation package may be neutered or taken out completely.

Resistance to the program's inclusion is coming from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who, along with fellow rightwing Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, has been a major obstacle to Democrats securing the 50 votes needed for Senate passage of the Build Back Better package.

The new reporting centers on the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) described in a Saturday tweet as "the most impactful part of the Build Back Better Act from a climate perspective" and "puts our electric sector on a path to zero emissions."

"To take it out," he said, "is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Author and climate activist Bill McKibben also expressed concern about CEPP potentially being cut out.

"This is high on the list of most consequential actions ever taken by an individual senator," McKibben tweeted. "You'll be able to see the impact of this vain man in the geologic record."

CNN reported on the development Saturday, citing three congressional sources:

"[Manchin] is not there on the CEPP period. We've been trying," one Democratic aide with knowledge of the negotiations told CNN. The aide told CNN that Democrats are trying to find ways to restructure the program to fit Manchin's concerns while still reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

"Whatever comes through will not be called the CEPP, but we're strongly hoping and thinking there will be ways to meet what he wants," the aide said, adding, "If there's a deal to be struck in the next few days, I don't think there's anything resembling CEPP in there."

The New York Times first reported the measure would likely be cut.

Reporting out Saturday by the Washington Post, meanwhile, suggests CEPP could remain but be weakened.

According to the Post:

One of the ideas under consideration would establish a scaled-back, voluntary emissions trading system among aluminum, steel, concrete and chemicals manufacturers that would provide federal funding to help companies curb pollution, according to two people close to the negotiations.

In a statement Saturday in response to the Times' report, the Sierra Club stressed a need to keep CEPP intact—and for the Biden administration to commit to further actions to slash emissions as well, including ending all fossil fuel subsidies.

"Ultimately," the environmental group said, "any final deal must meet the climate test of cutting climate pollution in half by 2030. Right now, that means including the CEPP, and that is why environmental advocates have fought for it as an important priority alongside the clean energy tax incentives and so many of the other policies and climate investments that are in this bill."

"If the CEPP were to be abandoned," the group said, "President Biden and congressional Democrats must deliver bold NEW investments in other climate priorities to close the emissions gap and meet the president's international climate goals in the coming days and weeks as the U.N climate negotiations near."


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