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Senator Manchin’s Commonsensical Move Foils The Left’s Climate Agenda

Sen. Machin’s decision to walk away from the President’s multi-billion dollar climate change plan should be commended, not condemned.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is seen in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is seen in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Sen. Joe Manchin quickly drew condemnation from the Left when he walked away from talks to push through President Biden's monstrous $555 billion plan to address climate change. The highlight of the scuttled plan is $320 billion in tax incentives for producers and purchasers of wind, solar and nuclear power, inducements intended to speed up a transition from oil, gas, and coal.

The New York Times, a strong supporter of the President's policies, cataloged the Left's reactions. Many were seething with anger at Mr. Manchin, the paper said. Leah Stokes, a professor of environmental policy at the University of California Santa Barbara who has advised congressional Democrats on climate legislation, sobbed on Thursday night, bringing children to the debate. "The stakes are so high," she said. "It's just infuriating that he is condemning our own children."

The Green lobby continues to argue that solar or wind can replace oil, coal, and natural gas, ignoring the facts. After all these years, the renewable share of U.S. energy production stands at about 12%, a fraction of the contribution of conventional fuels, which generate 79%. The idea that, at the current state of technological innovation and environmental restrictions, an advanced economy like the United States can fully transition out of fossil fuels is inherently dishonest.

Two columns away, the Times carried a more realistic story about how a shortage of Russian gas was crippling German heavy industry and exposing households to a bone-cold winter. Many Mittelstand (mid-sized) companies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland rely on natural gas to power their vast furnaces to churn out industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, glass, steel, autos, and machinery. Germany, which last experienced a trade deficit in 1991, is about to report another this year.

Renewables are where they are today only because of hundreds of billions in government incentives. Taxpayer funds have flooded the solar industry, from producers of panels (remember the Obama-era Solyndra disaster?) to consumers. Yet, solar production as a share of total U.S. electricity output stands at a dismal 3%. Wind fared much better, producing nearly 9.2%, but almost all profitable wind farm locations in America have already been exploited. Besides, wind power costs much more than conventional methods, and the large turbines can alter wildlife habitats. For the Left to continue picking winners and losers through the disbursement of public dollars amounts to the insanity of repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Besides, Washington has not kept up with innovation in nuclear energy, eschewing this clean-energy resource like the plague. The last nuclear reactor commissioned in the United States was in 2016; the one prior was in 1996. The cynicism about atomic energy is essentially baseless.

Washington needs to look no further than brain trusts like OPEN100, set up by Bret Kugelmass, an MIT engineer and technology entrepreneur who founded the Energy Impact Center. The Center's goal, much like OPEN100, is to solve climate change through sustained nuclear power. The two groups are building an academic framework for a small, standard, pressurized water reactor that can accelerate the deployment of nuclear energy. The organization already offers reference plant schematics and a platform to compile ongoing research and design work.

One of the main problems with legacy reactors, dating back to the 1950s, is that the technology is proprietary to the mega-corporations like G.E. and Westinghouse that built them. Because OPEN100 is open source, engineers from all over the world can contribute solutions. The organization has been featured in over thirty magazines, but the Democrats have thus far ignored talking to its leaders.

But the Left is as serious about fighting climate change as it is unserious about fighting inflation, the global problem spreading like wildfire. At an annual increase of 9.1%, America's CPI has not risen this fast in 41 years. The Fed is attempting to reduce the money supply with all of its tools, with expectations of an imminent 75-100 basis point hike in interest rates.

Yet, the Leftists are proposing to spend more cash that America does not have on its pet projects. Tiernan Sittenfeld, the senior vice president for government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit group, said that after the latest proposal failed, Mr. Manchin had condemned future generations. "There truly aren't words, at least words suitable for printing in The New York Times, for how appalled and outraged we are," she said.

No, but the rest of us ought to be outraged that the Left tries and keeps trying failed ideas. We complimented Sen. Manchin in December when he helped save America by withdrawing his support for the $6 trillion BBB. We shudder to think about today's inflation picture had he caved to the Left's pressures.

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