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Two major pieces of President Joe Biden's climate plan could get cut from the Build Back Better plan

President Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan included landmark climate proposals that would put the U.S. on course to reaching Mr. Biden's climate goals. But because of in-party negotiations, two measures crucial to meeting those objectives are seemingly off the table: a clean electricity performance program and a tax on carbon. 

Mr. Biden said at a CNN town hall on Thursday night that one of the holdouts, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, is "very supportive of the environmental agenda." But he conceded that he and the other holdout, Senator Joe Manchin, are still in talks and Manchin opposes the climate initative. 

"Nothing has been formally agreed to," Mr. Biden said. 

The two energy policies are the "strongest set of provisions" for driving down emissions in Mr. Biden's plan, according to a report from the nonpartisan think tank Energy Innovation. 

The clean electricity performance program would decrease the country's dependence on fossil fuels by rewarding utility companies for getting energy from renewable sources. Industry polluters would have to pay for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit. 

Today, only 20% of the energy generated in the U.S. comes from renewable sources. If enacted, the two policies would drive the power sector to 70 to 85% clean energy, according to Energy Innovation. By 2030, a performance program and carbon tax would cut as many as 750 million metric ton of carbon emissions, equal to every other climate provision in the budget package combined. 

Energy Innovation

"Our modeling underscores how important the [clean electricity performance program] is to achieving deep power sector decarbonization. Without it, emissions are likely to be 250 to 700 million metric tonnes higher per year in 2030, which could eliminate more than a third of the total emissions reductions under the Infrastructure Bills," said Energy Innovation's report.   

"They also serve as the linchpin for decarbonizing the rest of the economy, as more end uses are electrified," it said.

Similar modeling from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's office found that a clean electricity performance program and a carbon tax would each contribute 4-5% of the necessary emissions cuts needed to reach Mr. Biden's climate goals. 

American Progress

Manchin has opposed a clean electricity performance program and said this week that implementing a carbon tax was not a part of the budget negotiations. 

Senate Democrats need all 50 members to support Mr. Biden's plan to pass new climate proposals through reconciliation.  Arizona is also opposed the bill's price tag. 

As Manchin and Sinema dig in their heels, progressives in the party have adopted the slogan "No climate, no deal," signaling they would oppose a budget deal without bold climate action. 

At the White House press briefing Thursday, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration could reach their climate goals without Congressional policy, quoting a recent study from research group Rhodium. However, that study said, "Joint action by Congress, the executive branch, and subnational leaders can put the 2030 target within reach, but all must act."

Senate Democrats are hoping they will agree on a framework for the "Build Back Better" reconciliation package Friday. At the same time, the Biden administration is preparing to partake in the United Nations Climate Change Conference beginning October 31. 

Climate envoy John Kerry said last week that watered-down climate legislation would make it more difficult for America to lead the fight against the climate crisis on the world stage. 

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