Energy & Environment

Biden: Funds for endangered clean energy program could be used for green tax incentives

President Biden sought to quell concerns about the climate aspects of his infrastructure agenda Thursday night, saying at a CNN town hall that the funds for an endangered clean energy program could be redirected to tax incentives.

Biden was asked about the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which would provide financial incentives for utilities transitioning to renewable energy and financial penalties for those that did not. The New York Times reported last week that the program, which Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said he will not support, is likely to be removed from the bill.

The president acknowledged Manchin's objection to the program but pushed back on moderator Anderson Cooper's assertion that it has already been removed from the bill.

"The fact of the matter is we can take that $150 billion, add it to the $320 billion that's in the law now that he's prepared to support for tax incentives, to have people act in a way that they're going to be able to do the things that need to be do" on tasks like retrofitting windows, Biden said.

Biden added that "nothing has been formally agreed to" on concessions to the West Virginia Democrat.

"I've been saying to Joe ... if we don't do it in terms of the electric grid piece, what we'll do is give me that $150 billion. I'm going to add it to be able to do other things that allow me to do things that don't directly affect the electric grid in the way that there's a penalty but allow me to spend the money to set new technologies in place," he said.

"For example, we can save significant amounts of money and as a consequence of that significant amounts of energy if, in fact, we are able to put the high-tension wires underground," he continued, citing environmental degradation and forest fires associated with downed above-ground towers.

"There's a lot of things Joe is open to my convincing him that I can use it to increase environmental progress without it being that particular deal," the president said.

Manchin first voiced his opposition to the CEPP weeks ago, while the Times reported it was likely to be dropped last week. Some climate hawks in the party have signaled they will support a bill without the program if it contains other environmental provisions.

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