Moderate Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin are the primary reason why moving forward with a large reconciliation spending bill has been difficult for congressional Democrats, but Democratic leaders have reportedly prepared a new pitch to earn Manchin's support.
Both senators are using their leverage to fish for benefits for their own states and Democratic leaders may use the same strategy to sway both of them. Democrats reportedly believe the key to gaining Sinema's support is funding for climate adaptation in Arizona and the same approach could be used for Manchin's home state of West Virginia.
Democrats are considering a plan to offer funds intended for renewable energy sources to fossil fuel companies if they outfit themselves to capture their own carbon.
Under the proposed change, as long as coal and gas plants were equipped with technology to capture their greenhouse gas emissions, they could qualify for a plan that would pay power companies to deploy more renewable power and impose fines on those that don't.
The people familiar with the discussions said lawmakers and the White House could raise the program’s carbon emissions factor, a figure that determines which power plants would qualify as clean energy. Increasing that figure from the level of 0.1 metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt-hour that was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee could enable natural gas and coal-fired power plants outfitted with carbon capture equipment to qualify for payments, which could help win over Manchin.
As I've said before, I believe congressional leaders should give both senators whatever they want if it secures passage of a bill and this report doesn't change that at all.
Offering funds intended for clean energy to dirty energy companies is not ideal, but sometimes you have to sacrifice a little to gain a lot. Most fossil fuel companies in West Virginia will eventually head to the graveyard at some point in any case, but Manchin needs something he can take back to powerful business interests and local labor unions.
While that technology is not yet economically viable on its own for the U.S. power sector without subsidies, labor unions connected to the energy industry favor the technology, saying it could provide jobs even as the nation transitions to cleaner fuel sources.
Several of those unions sent a letter on Friday that was obtained by POLITICO to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, calling for the CEPP to better accommodate carbon capture technology.
Give it to them.
This is a bigger topic for another day, but labor unions are the primary reason why we're still mired in Trump's trade wars and maybe even the reason why a reconciliation bill is being held up. And that's what unions were created to do, of course; they were created to secure their own interests, but it's also why I personally don't beatify unions as infallible organizations that can do no wrong.