Manchin expresses openness to climate action amid spending bill stalemate

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenate Democrats eye talking filibuster NAACP president presses senators on voting rights: 'You will decide who defines America' Schumer tees up showdown on voting rights, filibuster MORE (D-W.Va.) said Tuesday that it’s likely Democrats will have an easier time coming to an agreement on climate change than on other areas of President BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE's proposed climate and social spending bill. 

Manchin, who last month said he would vote against the Build Back Better Act in its current form, seemed relatively open to its climate components in the first workweek of the new year. 

“The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else,” he told reporters. 

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Asked about the climate provisions, he said, “There’s a lot of good things in there.” 

“We have a lot of money in there for innovation, technology, tax credits for basically clean technologies and a clean environment,” the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman said. 

But he also expressed some hesitance, saying the country has to be “realistic.”

“We have to have enough energy to run our country, and we have to have a transition as it happens as we move from fossil dependency,” he said. 

“You do that by using fossils in cleaner ways ... and you do it by creating new technologies that are the renewables that we have as far as wind and solar and hydro,” he added. “I’m big on hydrogen, I’m big on nuclear, and I’m really big on basically making sure fossils are used in the cleanest possible fashion.”

The climate comments come as Manchin remains stagnant on the package overall, saying there have not been new talks.

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“I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better anymore because I think I’ve been very clear on that. There is no negotiations going on at this time,” he said.

But the measure's climate components have already been significantly pared down amid negotiations with Manchin. 

Most notably, a program that aimed to incentivize a shift toward clean electricity was removed because the senator opposed it. 

But there have also been more recent climate sticking points, including the senator’s objection to a provision that sought to provide an additional tax credit for union-made electric vehicles.