President Joe Biden’s initial climate change ambitions called for an aggressive phase-out of fossil fuels.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a coal country legislator whose state’s economy is dependent on natural gas production, was never going to let that happen.

Instead, the agreement Manchin reached with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, over the past week may increase the country’s reliance on fossil fuels – at least in the short run. While it is heavy on tax breaks and incentives to help the nation’s still-developing clean energy sector, it opens the door to more oil and gas exploration during the transition to a greener economy.

“I just could not absolutely in any way – it’s aspirational – (support) getting rid of everything,” Manchin told reporters Thursday, referring to his fellow Democrats’ desire to abandon carbon-emitting fossil fuels. “Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate isn’t going to work at all. I was never for that.”

Some activists slammed the plan right away, saying that even with billions of dollars for clean energy components, the prospect of allowing fossil fuels to expand was difficult to stomach.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s government affairs director, Brett Hartl, warned that the measure would push massive oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, as well as require that millions more acres of public lands be offered for leasing before any new solar or wind energy projects could be built on public lands or waters.

Despite an initial push last year by Biden, Democratic lawmakers, and environmental activists to limit carbon emissions that are warming the planet, there is also recognition that the current deal may be the best on the table.

Manchin wields extraordinary influence in Congress, thanks to a Senate that’s split 50-50 (with Vice President Kamala Harris allowed to break ties). That means Biden’s climate policy can only go so far as Manchin allows.

Manchin, who also chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was the one who killed a key provision in Biden’s Build Back Better bill last year that would have rewarded utilities for hastening their transition to clean energy – and penalized them if they didn’t.

Even though the $369 billion in climate funding included in the recently announced deal is less than the $555 billion he initially proposed, it is expected to fall far short of the president’s pledge to decarbonize the country’s electrical grid by 2035 and eliminate emissions entirely by 2050.

As a result, most environmental and clean energy advocates said they support the package of climate incentives announced by Manchin and Schumer on Wednesday as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The broader proposal would also allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and reduce the deficit by $300 billion over the next decade, in part by requiring large corporations to pay a minimum 15% tax rate.

The bill, which could be voted on as soon as next week, includes billions of dollars in tax credits and other incentives to build clean energy transmission and storage networks, solar panels and wind turbines, retrofit manufacturing plants, and develop new technologies. There is money available to assist consumers through home energy rebates and to assist them in trading in their gas-powered vehicles for electric vehicles.

John Larsen, head of U.S. energy system and climate policy research at data firm Rhodium Group, isn’t as concerned about the bill’s leasing component as some environmental activists are. He does not believe the proposal will allow for a massive expansion of oil and gas development and believes that any desire by fossil fuel companies to expand production will be mitigated by higher royalty fees imposed by the government on public lands.

Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president of energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress, said tying the development of fossil fuels to the transition to clean energy “does very much seem counterproductive.” She plans to keep fighting future lease sales.