West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced on Wednesday that he would oppose every Biden administration nominee for the EPA due to the environmental agency’s expected crackdown on emissions at power plants.
The forthcoming regulations, which are widely reported to be scheduled for publication on Thursday, would demand that power plants considerably reduce their carbon emissions by 2040, a rule that would force plants to use expensive carbon capture technology or switch to alternative fuel sources. Skeptics of the move are concerned that the policy would decrease energy reliability and artificially increase electricity costs for households.
Manchin, who is widely considered a centrist in the narrowly Democratic Senate and has frequently criticized Biden administration environmental policies, said in a statement that he would refuse to vote for any future EPA nominees until the expected regulations are nixed.
“This administration is determined to advance its radical climate agenda and has made it clear they are hellbent on doing everything in their power to regulate coal and gas-fueled power plants out of existence, no matter the cost to energy security and reliability,” the lawmaker said. “This piles on top of a broader regulatory agenda being rolled out designed to kill the fossil industry by a thousand cuts.”
Manchin contended that the forthcoming crackdown would “impact nearly all fossil-fueled power plants” in the United States “without an adequate plan to replace the lost baseload generation.” Natural gas and coal are respectively responsible for generating 40% and 20% of electricity in the country, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The state of West Virginia, where Manchin is expected to compete for a third full term in the Senate, is meanwhile the fourth largest energy producer in the nation, according to more data from the agency.
“I fear that this administration’s commitment to their extreme ideology overshadows their responsibility to ensure long-lasting energy and economic security,” Manchin added.
The Biden administration has indeed established a “whole-of-government effort” to reduce carbon emissions in the public and private sectors. Beyond the introduction of additional EPA rules that would aim to increase nationwide adoption of electric cars, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm voiced support for a policy which would transition the military to exclusively rely upon electric vehicles by the year 2030. The vehicles nevertheless require charging infrastructure and are currently seen by some as less reliable than those with internal combustion engines.
Manchin has also called the moves to increase electric vehicle reliance a “Trojan horse” that would increase American reliance on minerals dominated by China, such as the lithium and cobalt necessary to manufacture electric car batteries. “I don’t believe that making progress on climate change should come at the expense of our national and energy security,” Manchin said in another statement. “I fully support Congress overturning these dangerous EPA regulations.”
Granholm has also announced new efficiency standards for gas stoves, dishwashers, beverage vending machines, electric motors, and several other product categories, claiming that the administration is “using all of the tools at our disposal to save Americans money while promoting innovations that will reduce carbon pollution and combat the climate crisis.”