“Instead of punishing industry, our program incentivizes good behavior, phases in over time, and ramps up (fees) over time as well,″ Carper said in a statement. “It’s good for the planet and good for job creation — a win-win in my book.”

A Democratic plan to impose a fee on methane emissions from oil and gas wells has cleared a key hurdle, but it faces strong opposition from the oil and gas industry and criticism by centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, AP reports.

The proposed fee on methane — a powerful pollutant that contributes to global warming — was included in a huge social and environmental policy bill passed by House Democrats last Friday.

As the bill moves to the Senate, attention again will focus on Manchin, a West Virginia moderate who has already forced fellow Democrats to abandon one of their biggest climate proposals: a clean-electricity program that would boost wind and solar power while phasing out coal- and gas-fired power plants.

Manchin, whose state is a leading producer of coal and natural gas, has said he worries a methane tax could be used to drive energy companies out of business. He said before the House vote that he wants to make sure the fee is structured to incentivize innovation and not just “punish” energy companies “for the sake of punishing” them.

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