Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock

Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock
© Greg Nash

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron Pressed on 2024, Buttigieg says 'we are squarely focused on the job at hand' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE warned on Sunday that a delay in climate action would cost livelihoods and lives amid reports that Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE (D-W.Va.) opposes a major climate program in the Democrats’ spending bill.

Late last week, several news outlets reported that a major climate program, called the Clean Electricity Payment Program, was likely to be cut from Democrats’ massive spending bill because Manchin opposed it.

Buttigieg was asked about those reports by CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperOmar calls out Boebert over anti-Muslim remarks, denies Capitol incident took place Republican Rep. Upton unsure if he'll run again Bass calls 'Black pastors' comment during Arbery trial 'despicable' MORE on “State of the Union.”

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“The bottom line is, we have to act on climate for the good of our children and, by the way, for the good of our economy," Buttigieg said. "I view this as kind of like a planetary maintenance issue. The longer you take to do something about it, the more it's going to cost, in livelihoods, as well as lives. We need to act.” 

The clean electricity program aims to meet a goal of reducing U.S. electricity production emissions by 80 percent before 2030. It would use fines and grants to incentivize private utility companies to adopt clean sources of energy. 

Manchin has voiced concerns over the reliability of the program and for paying private businesses to do something that the industry is leaning toward doing anyway.

“You supported a clean electricity standard during your campaign. How disappointed are you that this potentially will not be in the bill?” Tapper asked Buttigieg on Sunday.

“Look, the administration and the president are committed to bold climate action. Exactly what legislative form that takes is what's being negotiated right now,” the transportation secretary answered. 

The remarks come as Democrats are seeking to figure out how to trim a reconciliation package that is currently priced at $3.5 trillion. Two moderates — Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBiden should seek some ideological diversity Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin MORE (D-Ariz.) — have already expressed that they will not support its current figure, though Manchin has said he is open to a figure between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion. It is not clear what Sinema would support.

Democrats cannot afford any defections from their massive spending bill and are aiming to get that bill and a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill to President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE’s desk by the end of the month.