Making Manchin happy means undermining years of climate activists’ calls for President Joe Biden to end oil and gas lease sales.

By Sharon Zhang, Truthout

Conservative coal baron Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) announced on Wednesday that he has come to an agreement with Democratic leaders for a reconciliation bill with key climate, prescription drug price and tax reforms — with a major caveat to expand oil and gas exploration.

Joe Manchin wears a suit and speaks at an event with a blue background

The bill, named the Inflation Reduction Act, contains roughly $433 billion in new spending, $369 billion of which is for climate and energy proposals, according to a one page summary of the bill.

That there are climate provisions at all is an improvement over Manchin’s supposed opposition to any and all climate spending, which aides and staffers thought was his position two weeks ago. But the climate provisions could be severely undercut by new proposals put in on behalf of Manchin to expand oil and gas exploration on public lands.

Crucially, according to Bloomberg, the bill essentially locks the government into permitting new oil and gas leases for the next decade; any time the Interior Department wants to allow new wind and solar rights on federal lands, the bill mandates that the agency will have to hold oil and gas lease sales first.

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