President Joe Biden vowed to shut down coal plants "all across America" during a speech on Friday. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia shot back at President Biden and demanded he apologize for his remarks.
Biden claimed that coal plants "cost too much money."
"So it's going to become a wind generation," Biden said at an event in Carlsbad, California. "And all they're doing is it’s going to save them a hell of a lot of money and using the same transmission line that they transmitted the coal-fired electric on."
Biden proclaimed, "We're going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar power."
On Saturday, Manchin fired back at Biden on his plan to shut down coal plants – which would severely impact his home state of West Virginia.
“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 began his statement.
"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," the Senator from West Virginia continued.
"It seems his positions change depending on the audience and the politics of the day," he added. "Politicizing our nation’s energy policies would only bring higher prices and more pain for the American people."
Manchin stressed, "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," he said.
Manchin concluded by demanding an apology from Biden, "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 issued a statement in response to Manchin's criticisms.
"President 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," Jean-Pierre said on Saturday. "They made this the most productive and powerful nation on Earth."
The press secretary then switched the subject to the unemployment rate in West Virginia.
"Working closely with Senator Manchin, a tireless advocate for his state and the hard-working men and women who live there, President Biden has helped get this part of the country back to work: the unemployment rate in West Virginia was 6.2% the last month before Joe Biden took office; now it is down to 4%," she said.
Jean-Pierre said President Biden is planning on "bringing new energy and manufacturing jobs to the region," including hydrogen energy.
The press secretary claimed Biden declaring that he would shut down coal plants all across America "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 United States is "in the midst of an energy transition."
"Our goal as a nation is to combat climate change and increase our energy security by producing clean and efficient American energy," she added.
Biden previously proclaimed that he would shut down the coal industry.
During a Democratic primary debate in July 2019, CNN anchor Dana Bash asked Biden, "Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Just to clarify, would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?"
Biden responded, "No, we would – we would work it out. We would make sure it's eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either – any fossil fuel."
There are more than 62,000 Americans employed in the coal industry according to research company IBISWorld.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the top coal-producing states in 2020 were:
- Wyoming: 218.6 million short tons — 40.8%
- West Virginia: 67.2 million short tons — 12.6%
- Pennsylvania: 36.3 million short tons — 6.8%
- Illinois: 31.6 million short tons — 5.9%
- North Dakota: 26.4 million short tons — 4.9%