Home Business Biden comments on coal-fired plants slammed by Manchin ahead of U.S. midterms

Biden comments on coal-fired plants slammed by Manchin ahead of U.S. midterms

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JOLIET — Comments by President

Joe Biden about shutting coal-powered energy plants days before

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critical midterm elections drew fire on Saturday from a key

conservative Senate Democrat.

“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,” Biden said on Friday at an event

touting his administration’s economic policies in Carlsbad,

California.

“We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across

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America and having wind and solar.”

The remark cast light on a touchy political issue for Biden

and his fellow Democrats – inflation near four-decade peaks –

that voters say is their top concern. Higher energy costs

following Russia’s war in Ukraine have helped lift prices, along

with the economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pennsylvania, where Biden was scheduled to campaign later on

Saturday, is both a major producer and consumer of coal.

Tuesday’s midterms will determine whether Democrats retain

control of Congress and hinge on races like the one for an open

Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

Senator Joe Manchin, who represents coal-producing West

Virginia, said on Saturday Biden’s remarks were “outrageous and

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divorced from reality” while also dismissing “the severe

economic pain the American people are feeling because of rising

energy costs.”

“Comments like these are the reason the American people are

losing trust in President Biden and instead believe he does not

understand the need to have an all in energy policy that would

keep our nation totally energy independent and secure,” Manchin

said in a statement. “It seems his positions change depending on

the audience and the politics of the day.”

Later on Saturday, White House spokeswoman Karine

Jean-Pierre said the comment was intended to highlight the

country’s energy transition.

“The President’s remarks yesterday have been twisted to

suggest a meaning that was not intended; he regrets it if anyone

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hearing these remarks took offense,” Jean-Pierre said in a

statement.

“He is determined to make sure that this transition helps

all Americans in all parts of the country, with more jobs and

better opportunities; it’s a commitment he has advanced since

Day One. No one will be left behind,” she added.

Biden has long made shifting the United States from fossil

fuels a part of his program to address climate change and reduce

carbon emissions. He plans to travel to the COP27 climate summit

in Egypt just two days after the congressional elections.

The power industry is the source of a quarter of the

nation’s greenhouse gases and Biden campaigned on a pledge to

cut net emissions to zero by 2035.

U.S. carbon emissions from the power sector have already

dropped sharply in recent years as utilities retire old

coal-fired power plants in favor of natural gas, solar and wind

power – a shift driven by decreasing prices for these sources

and state and federal incentives for renewable energy.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; additional reporting by Makini

Brice in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jonathan

Oatis)

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