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Oregon Democrat says climate change is 'the issue of our time' and legislation is still the 'best option'

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says he hasn't given up on renewing and expanding tax incentives for carbon-free energy, although West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he cannot support adding them to a pending budget reconciliation measure.

Without Manchin's vote, Democrats cannot muster the 50 votes they need — with the tie-breaker in Vice President Kamala Harris — to pass the measure by a simple majority. All 50 Republicans are opposed.

Wyden is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which writes tax legislation. Though President Joe Biden is preparing to announce executive action on his own, only Congress can grant or extend tax incentives.

"While I strongly support additional executive action by President Biden, we know a flood of Republican lawsuits will follow. Legislation continues to be the best option here," Wyden said in a statement. "The climate crisis is the issue of our time, and we should keep our options open."

Wyden had been more optimistic about the prospects for the tax breaks during a brief interview in Portland on July 9, before Congress returned from its Independence Day break. He did say then that critical details were still in the works — until Manchin announced opposition to them last week.

The rest of Wyden's statement:

"Conversations on clean energy must continue to preserve our options to move forward. Nearly all of the clean energy credits have already expired, and it will be difficult to extend them at the end of the year. Even if we reach an agreement with Republicans on an extension, it will likely be for only a handful of years, far short of the permanent reform we could achieve in our package.

"Without long-term certainty, investment in clean domestic energy will fall far short of what is necessary to reduce carbon emissions and secure lower prices for American consumers. Critical nascent technologies like carbon capture and sequestration, hydrogen, and new advanced nuclear power will struggle to take off.

"We know that a critical driver of inflation is high energy prices, driven by volatility in the price of oil and natural gas. If we do nothing to bolster our clean, domestic energy supplies, the cost of energy will continue to increase, not decrease, and we will continue to be over reliant on foreign authoritarians like Mohammed bin Salman and Vladimir Putin."

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