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WH Eyes New Climate Change Strategies  10/26 06:14

   The White House is zeroing in on a package of clean energy strategies for 
President Joe Biden's big domestic policy bill that officials believe could 
reach similar greenhouse gas emission reduction goals as an initial proposal 
that was quashed by opposition.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is zeroing in on a package of clean 
energy strategies for President Joe Biden's big domestic policy bill that 
officials believe could reach similar greenhouse gas emission reduction goals 
as an initial proposal that was quashed by opposition.

   The Biden administration discussed the proposals Monday at the White House 
with the leaders of about a dozen environmental and justice groups, according 
to a senior administration official who requested anonymity to share the plans. 
A new approach was needed after coal-state Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., rejected 
the White House's earlier clean energy plan.

   The emerging proposals would expand grants and loans in the agriculture and 
industrial sectors to help them shift to clean energy providers with fewer 
greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, the official said. 
There would also be new, refundable home improvement tax credits for tapping 
solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. The official said momentum was 
building as the group coalesced around the new ideas.

   The new strategies come as the president and Democrats in Congress are 
struggling to wrap up talks on Biden's now-scaled-back package of at least 
$1.75 trillion in social services and climate change investments before he 
departs later this week for two global summits overseas.

   Vice President Kamala Harris visited the afternoon meeting with the leaders 
of some of the nation's leading environmental and justice organizations and 
reiterated the president's commitment to the goals of the package -- even as 
she acknowledged the sometimes grueling process to achieve consensus in the 
party.

   "The president and I and our administration are unwavering in our commitment 
to these issues. Absolutely unwavering," she said. "But you know, there's an 
old saying, you don't want to watch sausage be made and you don't want to watch 
a bill being made."

   A cornerstone of Biden's climate change strategy had been a clean energy 
plan that would have rewarded power providers that use clean sources and 
penalized those that don't.

   But that approach had to be scrapped when Manchin objected. With Republicans 
fully opposed to Biden's big package, the president needs the support of all 
Democrats in the 50-50 split Senate, with no votes to spare.

   The senior administration official said the administration was not wedded to 
one clean-energy strategy as a "silver bullet."

   Instead, the administration is coalescing around the new package of 
strategies that the official said could potentially reach the same emission 
reduction goals without adding new costs to the overall proposed budget.

   It's unclear if the new proposals would be acceptable to Manchin. He has 
preferred an approach that does not favor one industry over the other as coal 
begins to be phased out for cleaner energy sources.

   The new strategies appear to use more incentives to encourage clean energy 
use rather than penalties for failing to make the transition, which could help 
win over Manchin. But climate change advocates have argued that penalties are 
needed to get industries to more quickly turn to cleaner sources as the world 
races to confront the dire threats of climate change.

   The grants and loans for the agricultural sector would help rural electric 
cooperatives transition to cleaner energy sources, which could be of interest 
to Manchin in his rural state.

   Similarly, industrial steel, cement and aluminum plants could tap funds to 
beef up their use of greener sources, the official said. There would also be 
expanded home improvement tax credits.

   Biden is heading later this week to global summits including the U.N. 
climate change conference in Scotland and he wants a deal in hand as he hopes 
to reposition the U.S. as a world leader on the issue.

   Democrats have been coalescing around an overall plan in Biden's package 
that offers tax credits and spending to boost renewable power such as wind and 
solar and sharply increase the number of electric vehicles. Advocates think the 
plan, plus executive branch action such as a pending EPA rule to curb methane 
emissions, and action by states, should be enough to meet or nearly meet 
Biden's goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, compared with 
2005 levels.

 
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