By Zachary Stieber
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is demanding a public apology from President Joe Biden over what Manchin describes as Biden’s “outrageous” remarks regarding coal.
“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,” Manchin said in a statement on Nov. 5.
“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. 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,” Manchin added.
During a speech Friday, Biden said that coal plants are being shut down and no new ones are being constructed.
“I was in Massachusetts about a month ago on the site of the largest old coal plant in America. Guess what? It cost them too much money. They can’t count. No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it, even if they have all the coal guaranteed for the rest of their existence of the plant. So it’s going to become a wind generation,” Biden said.
“It’s going to save them a hell of a lot of money, and they’re using the same transmission line that transmitted the coal-fired electric on. We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar,” he added.
Biden was speaking in California at the headquarters of Viasat, a communications company.
About 12,000 people were employed in the coal industry in West Virginia in 2021, according to the Office of Miners Safety Health & Training.
“Let me be clear, this is something the President has never said to me,” Manchin said. “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.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement later Saturday that Biden “knows that the men and women of coal country built this nation” and that Biden has worked with Manchin to get former coal workers new jobs.
“The President’s remarks yesterday have been twisted to suggest a meaning that was not intended; he regrets it if anyone hearing these remarks took offense,” Jean-Pierre said. “The President was commenting on a fact of economics and technology: as it has been from its earliest days as an energy superpower, America is once again in the midst of an energy transition.”
Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration’s goal “is to combat climate change and increase our energy security by producing clean and efficient American energy” and during the transition from coal, “no one will be left behind.”