White House clean energy czar John Podesta remarked Thursday that the Chinese energy and technology industries will play a major role in future domestic energy production.
Podesta, who made the comments during an event hosted by a renewable energy advocacy group, said Chinese companies will be "big players" in U.S. energy production and electric vehicle manufacturing. The senior adviser noted that the companies would be able to take advantage of Inflation Reduction Act and Chips and Science Act, two laws the Biden administration said would bolster American supply chains.
Podesta later added that the U.S. shouldn't rely on minerals sourced from China that are necessary for green energy technology, but said Chinese companies are "perfectly prepared to use their economic power when it serves their interests in a strategic way," Bloomberg reported.
The comments, which appeared to hint at a softening approach to China when it comes to energy development in the U.S., earned a scathing rebuke from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who helped author the IRA. Several energy and climate provisions in the bill were designed to decrease U.S. reliance on Chinese industry for electric vehicles and green energy development.
"It is beyond irresponsible for someone speaking on behalf of the White House to not only condone but also advocate for sending American tax dollars to Chinese companies," Manchin, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. "That is not consistent with either the IRA or the CHIPS + Science Act, which had widespread bipartisan support due to concerns about Chinese supply chains."
"These words are especially concerning as rumors circulate about the Administration thoughtlessly considering opening up the EV credit’s eligibility beyond our free trade agreement partners and allow the laundering of Chinese minerals and materials through Trojan horse agreements," the West Virginia senator added.
"We have a dire dependence problem and comments like this make it clear that this Administration doesn’t care about the energy security of this nation. I will do everything in my power to prevent this Administration from welcoming China to take federal dollars with open arms."
Podesta's comments and Manchin's stinging rebuke come a month after Ford announced it would partner with the Chinese tech company Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to build a new electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan. National security experts warned the agreement would give CATL the opportunity to indirectly benefit from green energy incentives in the IRA.
And a spokesperson for Manchin told Fox News Digital at the time that the lawmaker had "serious questions" with the partnership.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, similarly expressed concern with the Ford-CATL deal. On Thursday, he introduced the Restricting Electric Vehicle Outlays from Kleptomaniac Enemies Act to prevent Chinese companies, which he said control 76% of global electric battery production, from benefiting from IRA taxpayer-funded subsidies.
"Hard-working Americans should not be forced to subsidize Chinese companies that make batteries for electric vehicles that cost more than most people make in a year," Rubio said in a statement.
"Democrats believe America cannot go green without Beijing," the Florida Republican added in an op-ed last year. "And China’s domination of these key industries means Chinese companies—not American businesses—will benefit from the new incentives."
Meanwhile, Podesta, who joined the White House in September to oversee IRA spending, has received criticism for his close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Fox News Digital reported in September that Podesta has close ties to Tung Chee-hwa, a top CCP official, referring to him as his "friend" and taking several phone calls from him between 2015 and 2016 while serving as the chairman for Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign.
"It’s no surprise Biden ‘climate czar’ John Podesta has pen pals in the Chinese Communist Party," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Fox News Digital at the time.
"His anti-American climate agenda is terrible for the working men and women whose electric bills are predictably skyrocketing. We need less climate comrades in the White House and more focus on unleashing American energy to lower energy prices for families here at home."
Fox News Digital's Cameron Cawthorne and Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.