Joe Manchin's Climate Objections Opposed by BP and Shell

BP and Shell are among 17 companies throwing their support behind the Build Back Better Act's climate provisions, which are being thwarted by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP) is the focal point of President Joe Biden's proposed climate change legislation. It would pay electric utility companies that switch from fossil fuels to renewable or clean energy sources and fine those that don't.

The CEPP requires Manchin's support in the 50-50 split Senate to pass without GOP support via the reconciliation process.

However, proposals to rapidly replace coal and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy are likely to be scaled back because of the opposition of Manchin, a Democrat who represents oil- and gas-rich West Virginia.

NEW: @bp_America, @Shell_US and 15 other major companies urge Dems to protect the climate mitigation programs Manchin and the GOP are trying to kill.

"We support the robust climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act and request their inclusion in the final legislation."

— Corbin Hiar (@CorbinHiar) October 19, 2021

Adding to the chorus of support for the Biden administration's clean energy program is a letter by Shell, BP America and 15 other companies to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

It said that it believes that private-sector and government action were required for the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

"To that end, we support the robust climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act and request their inclusion in the final legislation," said the letter sent Monday and signed by other companies including Nestle, Pepsico, Danone North America and Unilever United States.

"The climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act support our own investment in low-carbon innovation and will help us grow our business and remain competitive globally while also meeting our climate goals," the letter said without mentioning any lawmaker, or the CEPP by name.

However, the letter did say that while it backed "the inclusion of strong climate provisions" in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, the signatories also wanted to discuss "the revenue provisions including potential alternative approaches."

It added that a push for renewable energy required the companies "to remain globally competitive", adding, "we encourage you to find the right balance to ensure our competitiveness while protecting the planet."

A spokesperson for Manchin, whom Newsweek has contacted for comment, told The New York Times that the senator's opposition to the program was from a concern of "using taxpayer dollars to pay private companies to do things they're already doing."

"He continues to support efforts to combat climate change," the statement added, "while protecting American energy independence and ensuring our energy reliability."

A financial disclosure reported by Vice revealed that Manchin made $492,000 in 2020 through private shares in Enersystems, a contractor for a power plant that burns waste coal in his state.

The Grant Town Power Plant releases more sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide per unit of energy than any other of the state's coal plants, according to environmental organization Sierra Club.

White House staffers are said to be reworking the legislation to exclude that provision but said they were focused on slashing U.S. emissions.

Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden can still deliver action on climate change. "There's no question in our minds...that these packages will have a historic impact on addressing our climate crisis," she said.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Capitol Hill on October 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. He opposes the Clean Energy Performance Program, holding up the Biden administration's climate change policy. Anna Moneymaker/Getty