President Joe Biden campaigned on a climate policy plan that included, as its backbone, a clean electricity standard (CES) that would push the US electricity sector to net-zero carbon emissions by 2035. Given how important electricity is in cleaning up other sectors of the economy, the CES is arguably Biden’s single most important climate policy promise.

Figuring out whether he will be able to make good on that promise necessarily involves an inquiry into the beliefs, motivations, and intentions of one man: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin is the hinge. He is the Senate Democrats’ 50th vote, the signal that other caucus “moderates” follow. Every Democratic legislative effort will, in the end, rely on his support. There’s no way around it.