Democrats and environmental organizations urged President Joe Biden to take unilateral actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions after Senator Joe Manchin again postponed action on climate legislation.

Democrats have been struggling for more than a year to enact a comprehensive domestic policy measure that would increase incentives to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, slash prescription medication prices, and raise taxes on companies and the rich.

Manchin has been in talks with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for months, after his opposition sabotaged a more ambitious measure last year.

According to a Democrat briefed on the discussions, Manchin reminded Schumer and his staff this week that he would only support legislation that reduced prescription medicine prices and would be hesitant to support legislation that contained a tax rise and climate components. 

Democrats want legislation passed by August, when many states set their healthcare rates.

Manchin told a West Virginia radio station that conversations were still possible. However, he said that he would only support immediate action on the medication price side of the proposal, and that he would need to see inflation and interest-rate data before handling the other components.

“Climate is important to me. I’d want to see an energy program “He said. “I would not put myself through this if I wasn’t sincere.”

Manchin represents West Virginia, a coal-producing state, and has been critical of several climate-change measures. 

Democrats would be unable to pass the proposal in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, without Manchin’s backing.

This would leave them unable to carry out large elements of Biden’s domestic program in the run-up to the Nov. 8 midterm elections, in which Republicans are expected to take control of at least one house of Congress.

Biden would continue to utilize “every tool” in his toolkit to tackle climate change, according to White House spokesman Karine Jean-Pierre, but she refused to speak more.

Biden will now have to depend heavily on executive steps to combat climate change, such as new EPA limits on power-plant emissions and restricting oil and gas development on public lands.

Future presidents might reverse these regulations.

Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse also suggested that Biden put a carbon border charge on imports from nations with substantially higher carbon emissions, mandate carbon capture from significant emitters, and tighten auto emissions standards.

“With legislative climate options now closed, it’s now time for executive Beast Mode,” Whitehouse declared late Thursday on Twitter.

Sunrise Democrats and House of Representatives representative Ro Khanna have called on the Democratic president to declare a “climate emergency.”

Source: Reuters

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