Biden made the comments at the Viasat headquarters in Carlsbad, California, on Friday while promoting the $50 billion CHIPS and Science Act that he signed into law in August. The president claimed that producing energy from coal plants is too expensive and unreliable and that it is necessary to transition to solar and wind energy.
“We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar,” Biden stated.
The following day, Manchin released a scathing response to Biden’s remarks to shut down the coal industry.
“President Biden’s comments are not only outrageous and divorced from reality, they ignore the severe economic pain the American people are feeling because of rising energy costs,” the West Virginia senator said in a statement.
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Comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden and instead believe he does not understand the need to have an all in energy policy that would keep our nation totally energy independent and secure. It seems his positions change depending on the audience and the politics of the day. Politicizing our nation’s energy policies would only bring higher prices and more pain for the American people.
The coal industry is a significant contributor to the economy of West Virginia, bringing in billions of dollars annually and powering thousands of homes within the state.
In 2018, West Virginia exported $4.3 billion in coal-produced energy to 35 countries, according to the state’s Department of Commerce. Coal-fired electric power plants also account for 88 percent of the mountaineer state’s electricity net generation.
“Let me be clear, this is something the President has never said to me, Being cavalier about the loss of coal jobs for men and women in West Virginia and across the country who literally put their lives on the line to help build and power this country is offensive and disgusting.”
“The President owes these incredible workers an immediate and public apology and it is time he learn a lesson that his words matter and have consequences,” Manchin said.
The Democrat senator’s rebuke of Biden’s comments comes three days before the midterm elections are set to occur, where polling data shows Democrats are losing momentum heading into Election Day.
Manchin has a streak of straying away from certain Democrat policies, especially regarding energy. In November 2021, the senator urged the president to reverse his decision to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline and increase energy production nationwide.
“I continue to call on President Biden to responsibly increase energy production here at home and to reverse course to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built,” Manchin said last year. “This is about American energy independence and the fact that hard working Americans should not depend on foreign actors, like OPEC+, for our energy security and instead focus on the real challenges facing our country’s future.”
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.