“Instead of funding non-polluting alternatives, it throws public money at expensive, unproven technologies that will allow the fossil fuel industry to continue poisoning frontline communities and trashing the planet.”

Public and environmental health advocates on Tuesday denounced Sen. Joe Manchin’s Energy Infrastructure Act of 2021, calling the bill, which proposes spending 70 times more on fossil fuels than renewables, a “kick in the gut to climate justice.”

“The Biden administration promised to center climate in its infrastructure investment. Manchin’s proposal does the opposite, lining the pockets of polluters with zero regard for the seriousness of the climate crisis.”
—Sarah Lutz, Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth examined the 495-page bill, a draft (pdf) of which was introduced late last month by Manchin (D-W.Va.) during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. That committee is chaired by Manchin, a conservative lawmaker who has been applauded by an ExxonMobil lobbyist for weakening the climate provisions in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.

The Manchin-led legislation proposes $95 billion in energy infrastructure investments, but according to Sarah Lutz, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, “a close look at exactly where the money is going to go reveals an undeniable bet on dirty energy from the 20th century over clean energy from the 21st.”

According to the group’s analysis, the bill “authorizes $28.8 billion in nuclear, carbon capture, and dirty hydrogen compared to only $410 million in direct authorizations for wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal, for a ratio of 70:1 dirty to clean energy.”

Even “when combined with the bill’s storage and efficiency programs,” the group added, “Manchin’s proposal still amounts to twice the spending on dirty energy than on clean.” Such investments would exacerbate coal, gas, and oil extraction and greenhouse gas emissions at a time when energy policy experts have called for drastic reductions in planet-heating carbon pollution, starting with keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

Lutz stressed that Manchin’s legislation runs counter to Biden’s pledge to prioritize decarbonization in his infrastructure package.

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