WASHINGTON — President Biden bowed to political reality on Friday, acknowledging his inability to persuade a stubborn coal-state Democrat — and any Republican in the Senate — to support his best hope of tackling the climate crisis.
Biden issued a statement Friday afternoon, saying he was prepared to “take the executive action that is required to meet this moment.”
Even for a president who prides himself on the art of compromise and possible art, it’s a clear retreat — driven in large part by the economic and political challenges of rampant inflation.
Mr Biden’s statement also called on Democratic senators to quickly approve a stripped-down version of what was once Mr Biden’s bill big agenda Reshaping the federal role in the economy will now be narrowed to include expanding Medicare subsidies through the Affordable Care Act and efforts to lower prescription drug costs. Unless Democrats take control of the House and Senate in November, the move effectively dooms his legislative efforts on climate — and his accompanying plans to raise taxes on corporations and high-income individuals.
The extent to which price surges across the economy have upended Biden’s agenda last year came amid news that Biden flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday with plans to pressure the region’s oil majors to increase production. Shows how far the economy-wide price surge has upended Biden’s agenda. Crude oil enters global markets.
At the end of a news conference after a one-day meeting in Jeddah, Mr Biden vowed “I’m not leaving” in the climate fight. “I will use all the power I have as president to continue to deliver on my commitment to combating global warming,” he said.
Biden took office promising to wean the U.S. off fossil fuels such as oil and coal in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that could lead to catastrophic global warming.
Surrounded by experienced and aggressive international and domestic climate political advisers, he has set ambitious goals to accelerate the energy transition and touch every corner of the U.S. economy. He has cast himself as a negotiator who has worked in the Senate for nearly four years and can build coalitions on major legislation.
A 24-hour span this weekend shows how frustrated Mr Biden has been in that effort.
His climate goals have stalled amid Democratic infighting and a shift in economic priorities fueled by fast-rising inflation, including a surge in gasoline prices triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Biden Administration’s Environmental Agenda
President Biden is pushing for tougher regulations, but faces a narrow path toward achieving his goals to combat global warming.
After more than a year of painful negotiations, Sen. Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, offered party leaders another reason why he cannot support a $300 billion tax break for clean energy sources like solar and wind. He said on Thursday he wanted to wait for more encouraging inflation data, even as administration officials said the clean energy provision would be part of a broader bill aimed at lowering health and electricity costs, cutting deficits and strengthening the economy.
Mr. Manchin has been negotiating with the majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, over a scaled-down version of the climate initiative Biden tried to sell to Mr. Manchin last fall. On Friday, to experience the on-and-off nature of the talks, Mr. Manchin told West Virginia radio host Hoppy September, but not earlier.
But Mr Manchin also said he was wary of raising taxes on businesses and high-income individuals to offset energy and climate credits at a time when inflation was rising at the fastest pace in 40 years. He said he had told Mr. Schumer that he wanted to wait for the next set of economic indicators in August before continuing.
“Inflation has absolutely killed many, many people,” Mr Manchin said on the radio show. “They can’t get gas, it’s hard for them to get groceries, everything they buy and consume for their day-to-day life is a hardship for them. Can’t we just wait to make sure we’re not doing anything to increase it?”
Mr. Biden’s statement effectively ruled out waiting for Mr. Manchin,
They opposed parts of the climate plan for more than a year before the Ukrainian war and inflation took root.
Mr. Manchin’s vote is largely key because not a single Republican is willing to vote for Democrats’ climate legislation. A New York Times investigation earlier this year found that while several Republicans have dropped outright denial of climate change in recent years, none said they would have the clean energy tax credit included in a stand-alone bill. Vote for.
The news comes at a particularly embarrassing time for Mr. Biden. The president flew from Israel to Saudi Arabia on Friday on hopes that the kingdom and its oil-rich neighbors will boost production and help drive down gasoline prices, which have helped hamper Mr Biden’s approval ratings this year.
On Friday afternoon, leaders of some of the country’s largest environmental groups held a conference call with two of Biden’s top aides, Steve Richetti and Bruce Reed, and White House deputy climate adviser Ali Zaidi.
“We were very clear in our meeting at the White House that this is a moment that requires presidential leadership. President Biden said the climate crisis was a code red, and he was right,” said Fred Krupp, president of the environmental group Environmental Defense Fund. He is the co-chair of the discussion.
The end of the legislation is just the latest but arguably the worst blow to Mr Biden’s climate agenda, as his tools to tackle global warming have been stripped one by one.
“The entire party leadership has failed to address this,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, an environmental group representing many young climate activists.
“I want to make sure that Biden and his administration hear this loud and clear,” Ms Prakash said. “They must respond in two and a half years, in all agencies at all levels of government, to keep them in office and do what they can to solve the climate crisis, or face a colossal failure and a loss of life for the American people, especially the young People are disappointed.”
Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for energy and environmental policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said she thinks it’s time for an “honest conversation” about the difficulty of meeting with Mr. Biden now. Climate goals without congressional action.
Economists generally agree that there are two basic approaches to reducing emissions and curbing rising global temperatures. One is to reduce the cost of low-carbon energy sources such as wind, solar or nuclear, while increasing energy efficiency. Another is to make fossil fuels more expensive to use by putting a price on carbon emissions or raising the price of fuel.
Mr Biden appears to have missed his best chance to further promote clean energy.He could take executive action to regulate emissions in certain sectors of the economy, although his choice in this regard has been swayed by a recent Supreme Court rulings That limits the EPA’s power to limit emissions from power plants, the second-largest source of global warming pollution in the United States.
Legal experts said the decision could set a precedent that could also limit the federal government’s ability to more tightly regulate other sources of heat-trapping emissions, including cars and trucks.
At the White House, Mr Biden’s climate team is now assembling a smaller, less powerful set of tools to tackle global warming that experts say could still reduce America’s carbon footprint — though not enough to deliver on Mr Biden’s Target. Biden has promised the rest of the world. He pledged that the United States will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by about half by the end of the decade.
In the coming months, the EPA still plans to issue tougher regulations to control methane, a potent greenhouse gas that leaks from oil and gas wells, as well as more modest rules to reduce emissions from utilities.
While many economists have long pushed governments to tax fossil fuels to cut emissions, Mr Biden and his advisers have repeatedly said they want to lower, not raise, gasoline prices. The president noted the impact of gasoline on household budgets and the political toll of high oil prices on his presidency.
Mr Biden Acknowledging the contradiction of the position Last fall, when gasoline prices rose, the average U.S. gallon was still $1.50 cheaper than it is today.
“On the surface,” he told reporters at a news conference after the G-20 summit in Rome, “it may seem like a sarcasm, but the truth of the matter is — you all know it, everyone knows it — — the idea that we’ll be able to switch to renewables overnight without — from now on, it doesn’t make sense to use no oil, no natural gas, or no hydrogen.”
He added that when gasoline prices rose above $3.35 a gallon, “it had a profound impact on how working-class families commute to and from work.”
Biden’s top environmental adviser is said to be preparing to withdraw from climate legislation. Mr. Biden has assembled what many call a coveted team of experts, including Gina McCarthy, who served as Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Barack Obama, to lead the White House Office of Climate Policy.
Aides said Ms McCarthy had said she intended to step down this year, but had hoped to do so in a high profile after the passage of climate legislation.
Biden’s chief international envoy, John Kerry, who served as secretary of state in the Obama administration, is expected to leave after the next round of UN climate talks in Egypt in November.
However, with the U.S. having nothing to show, Kerry will struggle to push other countries to reduce climate pollution, experts say. Doing so is critical to stabilizing the planet at about 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming compared to pre-industrial levels. This is the threshold at which the likelihood of catastrophic droughts, floods, fires and heat waves increases significantly. The Earth has warmed by an average of about 1.1 degrees Celsius, or about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases in history, the United States has a unique role to play in the fight to slow global warming. President Donald J. Trump relinquished that role, but when Mr. Biden was elected, he declared that America was “back” and would lead nations to curb the pollution that is dangerously heating the planet.
Now, the U.S. “is finding it difficult to lead the world if we can’t even take our first steps at home,” said Nat Keohane, president of the Environmental Group Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “The honeymoon is over.”
Emily Cochran Contribution report.