Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democratic foe and ally, blasted President Joe Biden on Saturday for being “cavalier” and “divorced from reality” after he promised to close coal-fired power facilities and rely more on wind and solar electricity in the future.
The influential coal-state legislator claimed that Biden’s statements “ignore the severe economic pain” that rising energy costs have caused for people and are the reason why Americans “are losing trust” in him.
In the home stretch of campaigning before Tuesday’s elections, which could see Republicans retake control of Congress, Manchin’s sharp rebuke of his party’s leader comes at a critical time for Democrats.
During an address Friday in Carlsbad, California, to highlight his $280 billion plan to strengthen the semiconductor sector and scientific research, Biden angered Manchin by making a reference to coal power.
“I was in Massachusetts about a month ago on the site of the largest old coal plant in America. Guess what? It cost them too much money,” Biden said. “No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it, even if they have all the coal guaranteed for the rest of their existence of the plant. So it’s going to become a wind generation,” Biden continued. “We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar.”
In July, Biden paid a visit to a defunct coal-fired power station in Massachusetts. Biden chose the former Brayton Point power station in Somerset, which is converting to the production of offshore wind power, as the poster child for the move to renewable power that he is seeking, including in the comprehensive climate-and-health package he won with Manchin’s assistance in August.
As utilities progressively switch to inexpensive natural gas — and now to renewable energies such as wind and solar power — to create electricity, the coal industry’s decade-long slump persisted despite former President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to revitalize coal and restore mining jobs. According to the government agency Energy Information Administration, there will be an average of 39,518 workers at coal mines in the United States in 2021, down from 91,611 in 2011 and 51,795 in 2016 and 42,159 in 2020. The state that produces the most coal is Wyoming.
Senator Joe Biden’s comments, according to Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, were “not only ridiculous and disconnected from fact, they overlook the great economic pain the American people are experiencing as a result of increased energy costs.”
Such remarks, Manchin said, “are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden. … It seems his positions change daily depending on the audience and politics of the day.”
More on this story via The Western Journal:
Manchin, whose support was crucial to Biden winning passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which included the biggest investment in climate programs in U.S. history, slammed Biden for “offensive and disgusting” words and said the president owed West Virginia coal workers “an immediate and public apology.”
“Let me be clear, this is something the president has never said to me. Being cavalier about the coal jobs for men and women in West Virginia and across the country who literally put their lives on the line to help build and power this country is offensive and disgusting,” Manchin. He added that “it is time he learns a lesson that his words matter and have consequences.”
The EIA projects that coal generation is expected to decline from 22.5 percent of U.S. electricity in 2021 to 21.1 percent in 2022, before falling to 19.9 percent in 2023 -– the same coal generation share as 2020, when production hit its lowest level in decades, in part because of COVID-19. Natural gas is expected to make up for some of coal’s declining share in 2022 and beyond. Coal produced more than 40 percent of U.S. electricity through 2011 before a steep decline caused by the fracking boom. CONTINUE READING…