Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on Monday will introduce a bill that would spend $8 billion to bring clean energy manufacturing and recycling to former fossil fuel sites and help transition workers to jobs in the clean energy sector.
The details: The bipartisan bill, which is co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, expands the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit (often referred to as 48c for its section of the tax code) to attract clean energy manufacturing and recycling companies to areas with high unemployment. The bill includes a special $4 billion carve-out for companies willing to set up operations in communities where coal mines or coal power plants have closed, according to a fact sheet released by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would also allow heavy industry to use the credit to reduce their own emissions.
“The downturn of the coal industry has left many Americans without the good-paying jobs they once relied on and, more often than not, a lack of new opportunity,” said Manchin, who chairs the Energy Committee, in a statement. “I believe that tax credits to help incentivize the transition to a cleaner energy future should be targeted to drive reinvestment in the communities who are the most impacted by that transition.
The politics: Drawing Republican support is likely to be crucial for the bill, and Daines’ support could help its chance.
“This bipartisan bill will support jobs and increase investment in coal and other energy producing communities in Montana to ensure they continue playing a part in American energy production,” Daines said.
The White House did not comment on the bill, but Stabenow said Biden backed the plan.
“I’ve talked to the administration and the administration is supportive,” she said.
The legislation: The bill would appear to support President Joe Biden’s promise to ensure that former fossil fuel workers would not be left out of his greener economy. Coal plants have retired at a rapid clip in recent years, and another 2.7 gigawatts in capacity is expected to retire this year, according to the Energy Information Administration. In her confirmation hearing last month, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm emphasized the need to put clean energy manufacturing in places with skilled workforces that have seen unemployment climb because of plant closures.
“Place-based strategies are critical for areas that have been left behind and that’s exactly what the executive order from Joe Biden today has committed to fix,” Granholm told the Energy Committee at that hearing.
The provisions of the bill could be beneficial in red states like Wyoming and West Virginia where coal plants have been retiring and coal mines reducing output, leading former workers to seek alternative employment opportunities. But some Republicans may be skeptical of the bill.
“I haven’t seen pigs fly,” Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) told POLITICO on Friday, ahead of the bill announcement. “If manufacturing wanted to go to McGowan County or to Clay County or other areas of West Virginia … those manufacturers would already be there. There can be an incentive, but Joe [Manchin] needs to understand its not just tax incentives. It’s the availability of materials. What about the workforce, is it available? I’m not going to suggest it’s all wrong, it needs a much bigger picture.”