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Manchin Blasts Biden's Remarks On Coal, But Were They Accurate?

US President Joe Biden smiles prior to signing three Congressional Review Act bills into law during a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.
US President Joe Biden smiles prior to signing three Congressional Review Act bills into law during a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin called on Biden to apologize for saying Friday in California that coal plants would be shut down and replaced with wind and solar.

“We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar,” Biden said.

In a statement Saturday, Manchin called the remarks “outrageous” and “divorced from reality.”

“Comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden and instead believes he does not understand the need to have an all in energy policy that would keep our nation totally energy independent and secure,” Manchin said.

Later Saturday, the White House issued a statement praising the contribution of coal miners and communities to the nation’s economy.

Biden “knows that the men and women of coal country built this nation: they powered its steel mills and factories, kept its homes and schools and offices warm,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted. “They made this the most productive and powerful nation on Earth.”

Coal generates about 22 percent of the nation’s electricity, down from nearly half in 2010. The Inflation Reduction Act, which passed with Manchin’s support, provides incentives for power companies to move away from coal and toward renewables, but does not require them to do so.

Most electric utilities have pledged to move away from coal. And once coal-dependent states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania have switched from coal to natural gas to make electricity.

West Virginia is the nation’s No. 2 coal producer behind Wyoming and employs more coal workers than any other state. Coal provides about 88 percent of the state’s electricity.

Energy & Environment Reporter, ctate@wvpublic.org, 202-679-8470, @tatecurtis

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