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

JOLIET, Ill., Nov 5 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s comments about closing coal power plants days before crucial midterm elections drew fire from a key conservative Senate Democrat on Saturday.

“Nobody’s building new coal plants because even if they’re guaranteed all the coal for the rest of the plant’s existence, they can’t count on it,” Biden said of his administration’s economic policies in Carlsbad on Friday. , California.

“We’re going to shut down these factories across America and switch to wind and solar.”

The announcement makes a sensitive political issue for Biden and his fellow Democrats — inflation near a four-decade peak — their top focus, according to voters. Higher energy costs after Russia’s war in Ukraine have helped boost prices as the economy recovers from the COVID pandemic.

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Pennsylvania, where Biden was scheduled to campaign later Saturday, is a major producer and consumer of coal. Tuesday’s midterms will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress and the race for an open Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

Senator Joe Manchin, who represents coal-producing West Virginia, said Biden’s comments were “outlandish and divorced from reality” and dismissed “the severe economic pain the American people are feeling due to rising energy costs.”

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“Statements like these are causing the American people to lose faith in President Biden and instead believe he doesn’t understand the need to have an energy policy that will keep our nation fully energy independent and secure,” Manchin said in a statement. “His position seems to vary depending on the audience and the politics of the day.”

Biden has long championed transitioning the United States away from fossil fuels as part of his agenda to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions. He plans to travel to the COP27 climate summit in Egypt two days after the congressional elections.

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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 energy sector have already fallen sharply as utilities retire old coal-fired power plants in favor of natural gas, solar and wind power — driven by lower prices for these sources and state and federal incentives for renewable energy. .

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Edited by Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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