Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill

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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today, we're looking at Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) latest comments on Build Back Better, President Biden's stalled climate and social spending bill, plus a congressional push to end solar tariffs.

For The Hill, we're Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with tips: rfrazin@thehill.com and zbudryk@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @RachelFrazin and @BudrykZack.

Let's jump in.

Manchin calls for 'clean' slate for talks

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that talks over President Biden's sweeping climate and social spending package would be "starting from scratch," throwing cold water on hopes of a quick revival.

"We're going to start with a clean sheet of paper and start over," Manchin told reporters, adding he doesn't have talks scheduled with the White House.

Pressed if his previous $1.8 trillion offer to the White House was still on the table, Manchin indicated it wasn't, saying Democrats will "just be starting from scratch."

Manchin's comments come as the White House and top Democrats get ready to try to turn their focus back to the Build Back Better Act.

The bill unraveled in the Senate late last year after Manchin, during a Fox News interview, warned that he could not support the roughly $2 trillion version that passed the House. His comments Thursday underscore how far apart Democrats are on a deal.

They also follow comments from Biden on Wednesday in which he said that the spending package will likely have to be broken up.

Let's talk policy: Biden sounded optimistic that lawmakers will be able to retain upwards of $500 billion in energy and environment spending.

Those comments spurred calls from some, like Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) for beginning with the climate change provisions, which Manchin has also recently expressed relative openness to.

"The climate and clean energy provisions in Build Back Better have been largely worked through and financed, so let's start there and add any of the other important provisions to support working families that can meet the 50-vote threshold," Markey said in a statement late Wednesday.

"Congress has the opportunity to pass life-saving, intersectional, justice-focused climate action that would take steps to drastically reduce dangerous emissions, promote environmental justice, and create millions of good-paying union jobs across our country," he added.

Read more about Manchin's latest comments.

Bipartisan group wants end to solar tariffs

A group of six Democrats and two Republicans asked President Biden not to extend Trump-era tariffs on imported solar panels.

The Section 201 tariffs, set to expire Feb. 6, have cost more than 62,000 American clean-energy jobs, according to the senators, citing the Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA).

"[W]e believe that extending the tariffs will do nothing but add unnecessary costs to U.S. consumers, hurt American solar jobs, and artificially stymie the deployment of otherwise viable solar projects in the United States," the senators wrote.

The lawmakers who signed the letter are Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

The Biden administration, however, has indicated some support for solar tariffs, last week saying it would appeal a decision tossing out some of the tariffs.

Read more about the push here.


A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday released proposed legislation aiming to help the country better prepare for climate change impacts including sea level rise and worsening extreme weather events.

The legislation would require the federal government to develop a "National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy" that would assess the country's vulnerabilities and make sure the government has a plan to respond to them.

It would also create a "Chief Resilience Officer" position in the White House to direct preparation efforts and lead the strategy's development, as well as interagency groups dedicated to the issue and a council of non-federal partnerships from frontline communities.

The effort is spearheaded by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), as well as Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and María Salazar (R-Fla.).

Read more about the legislation here.



That's it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill's energy & environment page for the latest news and coverage. We'll see you tomorrow.