Energy modernization as climate policy

When West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin stabbed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Bill in the back, he also “signaled” his support for the energy modernization and environmental elements of the bill. Of course, earlier, he “signaled” that he did not support a 4-trillion-dollar bill but might be interested in a smaller bill. Two trillion dollars in cuts later, it’s hard to know what his signals mean. While he struggles to survive the deep red politics of West Virginia, he is a very smart guy, and knows that fossil fuels are on the way out. Federal funding to modernize the energy system and make it more efficient and “green” doesn’t penalize his home state fossil fuel businesses too much and may provide the resources to invest in a lower cost and more reliable energy system. America will need such an energy system to remain competitive in the global economy. America’s electric grid is increasingly unreliable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency: “On average, U.S. electricity customers experienced just over eight hours of electric power interruptions in 2020, the most since we began collecting electricity reliability data in 2013.” Most interruptions are caused by major weather events. Climate change is responsible for more frequent and intense weather events. Without redesign and reconstruction, we should expect increased energy blackouts.

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