WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a coal state Catholic, on Thursday argued in response to the pope's encyclical on climate change for more investment in technologies to cut coal emissions.
Manchin said in a statement that while he believes climate change is real and humans are contributing to it, fossil fuels will likely continue to provide a significant share of energy.
“I have said repeatedly that I believe climate change is real, and that the more than 7 billion people living on this Earth have contributed to its warming," Manchin said. "I also believe, like Pope Francis, that we must work together to help solve this problem by investing in the technologies of the future that will help provide reliable, affordable and clean energy to citizens around the world. But the fact is our own U.S. Department of Energy believes that we will get more than thirty percent of our electricity from coal for the next quarter century."
Pope Francis's encyclical calls for "a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet," urging humanity "to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it."
The pontiff advocates phasing out fossil fuels. "We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels –- especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas –- needs to be progressively replaced without delay," he wrote.
Manchin has been critical of the Obama administration's actions to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants, calling them "irresponsible" and introducing legislation to block them from taking effect.
"Without a commitment from elected officials to work with the energy industry, our research universities, and religious leaders, the most vulnerable and impoverished in our country will be in danger of not having affordable and reliable power during extreme times of need," Manchin continued. "I look forward to working with Pope Francis to address the global climate problem with realistic global climate solutions."