• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022


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As Gas Prices Soar, Biden’s Climate Ambitions Sputter

With an eye toward this fall’s midterm elections, Republicans have ramped up attacks on Mr. Biden’s climate agenda. The Republican National Committee has launched a campaign to register voters at gas stations across the country, aiming to connect high prices at the pump to Mr. Biden’s policies.

“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” wrote David Axelrod, a Democratic political strategist and former top counselor to President Barack Obama, in an email. “The economic dislocations caused by the pandemic and war in Ukraine have led to record gas prices, and with them, tremendous pressure to encourage more oil and gas production. All in an election year.”

Experts say that it is now impossible for Mr. Biden to meet his pledge to the world that the United States will cut its emissions in half by 2030, the amount the scientists say is necessary if the planet’s largest economy is to do its part to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of global warming.

“Fifty percent by 2030 was always a stretch goal,” said David G. Victor, an expert in climate policy at the University of California, San Diego. “I never thought it was achievable. Certainly that’s not going to happen now.”

Mr. Biden’s best hope for climate action is in the $2.2 trillion climate and social spending legislation stalled on Capitol Hill, which includes about $300 billion in tax incentives designed to galvanize markets for wind and solar energy and electric vehicles. If enacted, it could cut the nation’s emissions roughly 25 percent by 2030, getting about halfway to Mr. Biden’s promised target.

The House passed the legislation last year but it came to a standstill in the Senate in December, when Senator Manchin said he would not vote for it. Senator Manchin’s vote is essential for passage of the bill in the evenly divided Senate, where no Republicans are expected to vote for the measure.

In recent days, Senator Manchin has suggested that he is open to discussing a scaled-down version of the bill, including some of the clean energy tax credits. He said in an interview last week that “there is no formal negotiation” happening over text of a bill. “Just a lot of chatter back and forth.”