Fighting climate change is at the center of President Joe Biden’s administration, because, Biden claims, “[Climate change is] the number one issue facing humanity.”
Biden’s solution, as outlined at the time and subsequently on multiple White House fact sheets, is to use a “whole of government approach,” achieving a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, and being net-zero emissions for the nation as a whole by 2050.
Although Biden’s goals are clearly stated, his energy and climate policies have been inconsistent.
Energy is the lifeblood of the economy. The actions taken by former President Donald Trump to achieve energy independence delivered low prices, created jobs and kept the economy humming, until the pandemic hit. Biden’s policies have done just the opposite with the result that his and the Democrats’ electoral prospects in the coming elections are falling almost as fast as the average American’s energy, food, and fuel prices are rising.
As one of his first acts in office, Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline partnership with Canada. This may have been the first time in history a president used his first day in office to kill thousands of American jobs and disrupt critical infrastructure. It also told our allies, especially Canada, the United States can’t be trusted to keep its word.
In the following days, Biden implemented a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. A federal court soon declared Biden’s moratorium illegal, ordering the administration to resume lease sales as the law demanded. For months, the Biden administration thumbed its nose at the court’s ruling and refused to resume leasing, only doing so months later under threat of court sanctions.
Despite rescinding federal approval of Keystone XL and supporting or leading efforts to block other pipelines, Biden waived sanctions the Trump administration had imposed on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This odd “pipelines for thee but not for me” action undermines U.S. interests, especially our efforts to expand U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to reduce Russia’s geopolitical influence in Europe.
Biden’s approval of the Russian pipeline is directly at odds with his domestic efforts to fight climate change. It makes no difference to the Earth whether natural gas comes from Russia or the United States, but it makes a huge difference to the people of those respective countries.
Since then, Biden has proposed methane emission restrictions that would make it harder and more expensive to develop, store, and transport oil and natural gas in the United States, and increasing the fees and royalty rate oil and gas producers must pay the federal government.
As high oil and gas prices have begun to hammer average citizens’ pocketbooks—and, more importantly to Democrats, poll numbers—Biden went hat in hand to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, pleading with them to open up the spigots and release more oil into world markets to moderate prices. In less than four years, Trump broke OPEC’s stranglehold over U.S. energy markets. In less than a year, Biden has made us once again beholden to hostile foreign powers for a growing portion of our energy needs. And the effect on the climate is likely zero at best.
As noted by Forbes, there are multiple ironies in Biden’s begging OPEC for oil, not the least of which is the “Biden Administration asked OPEC to pump more oil, undermining its COP26 messaging of reducing fossil fuel consumption.” Getting oil from OPEC increases emissions relative to producing it in the United States, because OPEC’s is produced under laxer environmental rules and enforcement, and must be shipped thousands of miles.
After OPEC predictably refused Biden’s request to shore up Democrats’ election prospects by putting more oil on the market to moderate prices at the pump, Biden decided on a desperate course of action: releasing oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
The SPR was established in 1975 after oil supplies were interrupted during the 1973-1974 oil embargo, to mitigate future supply disruptions in cases of international crisis or war. The SPR was not instituted as a plaything for presidents to use to manipulate energy markets or elections, but that’s what Biden did. Biden’s SPR release did little or nothing to reverse high gas prices or prevent climate change, but it did leave the United States with fewer reserves to draw on should a true emergency such as a war or large-scale natural disaster disrupt supplies.
Biden’s policies have been a contradictory mishmash of domestic energy restrictions which harm Americans, and foreign energy promotion benefitting international competitors. The climate is unimpressed.
If there is one bright spot in Biden’s bipolar energy policies, it is that, should 2022 be anything like 2021, it is likely Biden is a one-term president and Democrats are a one-term party in power.
Day by day, President Joe Biden grows more unpopular. His approval rating coming into office was north of 50 percent. According to a USA Today/Suffolk poll released earlier this month, it’s now at 38 percent. Yet congressional Democrats are willing to throw their seats away in the next election by sticking with his program.
In a rational world, the collapse in Biden’s approval rating—and of Vice President Kamala Harris, who’s at 28 percent, according to the USA Today/Suffolk poll—would send a signal to Capitol Hill that its current occupants need a course correction. It hasn’t because today’s Democrats don’t understand politics any more than they understand economics.
Biden’s decision Tuesday to release 50 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a perfect illustration. This administration has made several decisions throughout its tenure that make it harder to take advantage of the nation’s indigenous energy resources. America was a net exporter of oil when Biden entered the White House. Now it’s dependent once again on imports.
That’s driving up the price at the pump. A rational person would read that fact as a signal that we need a dependable increase in supply. “Drill baby drill,” if you will. Instead, the president is injecting a dose of crude into the marketplace in an amount so small it will not make a difference in the price. And, even if it does manage to bring the price down by a penny or two, it will probably last for less than a week.
What the Democrats don’t get is that their ideas just don’t work. Socialist regimes cling to power by tyrannical, totalitarian means—but as a way to organize an economy, socialism has failed in every place it’s been tried.
Somehow the leaders of the modern Democratic Party can’t seem to figure this out. They’d be happy to extend indefinitely the unemployment payments they increased during the lockdowns the government imposed in the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID.
There would not be enough space in this column to list every example of the Democrats’ distorted thinking. But the American people are waking up to the reality of the Biden presidency. If the Democrats want to survive as a political party that can win national elections, they’d be well-advised to make a change now.
If they don’t, they run the risk of descending into irrelevancy outside of a few states and major cities. Even there, though, the failure of their agenda is gaining notice. People are moving away from Chicago and New York and Los Angeles because—except for the Riordan years in L.A. and the Giuliani-Bloomberg decade in New York—Democrats are still trying public policy prescriptions that didn’t work in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s are still being tried. Now that Democrats are trying those ideas on a bigger scale, they still don’t work. And they’ve added brilliant new wrinkles into the mix—like defunding the police abolishing the pre-trial detention of criminal suspects.
You wouldn’t accept from your doctor the kind of results Chicago schools routinely offer parents regarding the education of their kids. You couldn’t. You’d be dead. Meanwhile, the city’s Democratic leaders continue to resist any alternative that could generate improvement, like expanded school choice.
The nation is split, badly, in many ways. These divides don’t just separate people according to race or income levels but by faith, by location and even by the way they understand the meaning of the American experiment. To many, including the big-government socialists who run the party today, it’s not worth saving. They believe it was compromised from the beginning and should be tossed out on the ash heap of history.
Fortunately, many others—including likely a majority of America’s 330 million people—believe the country’s best days are still ahead. While hardly perfect, if we work together, we can make things better for everyone.
That’s a message that starting to resonate with the electorate. Real reform is coming where it’s needed from the Republicans who, while hardly perfect, are nonetheless making considerable strides. Note the number of elected officials now on the scene who are something other than elite, middle-aged, upper- or upper-middle-class white Protestant men.
The incoming Virginia lieutenant governor is a black woman. The new attorney general who will serve alongside her is the son of Cuban refugees. The most powerful Democrat in New Jersey—Senate President Steve Sweeney—lost his seat to a truck driver who spent just $2,300 on his campaign. The winds of change are beginning to blow. The challenge for the GOP now is to develop a meaningful plan to create that change around which it can build back better a consensus supporting its efforts to lead the nation out of its doldrums and on to better things.
The hidden agenda behind the new president’s busy week
No one can accuse President Biden of easing into office. His first days have been a blizzard of executive orders, presidential memorandums, and official proclamations. He says he wants to overturn the worst policies of the previous administration, and to restore a sense of national unity and institutional integrity. What gets lost in the details of all these initiatives is Biden’s partisan goal.
It’s not just that the new president wants to resume the trajectory America was on when Barack Obama left office in 2017. He also wants to claw back the gains red states made over blue states during the last four years. He wants to shift federal resources to Democratic constituencies, and to save the blue states from the true cost of their misguided policies. And if red America has to pay a price in lost jobs and tax revenue, well, that’s too bad.
Leave aside, for the purposes of this discussion, the relative merits of Biden’s executive actions. (I disagree with almost all of them.) Focus instead on their distributional effects, not on individuals but on sectors of the economy, on regions of the country, and on the donor bases of the two parties. The image that comes to mind is of swarms of dollars changing course midflight: a mass migration of subsidies, spending, and incentives from the GOP coalition to the Democratic one.
Start with energy. Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline at a cost of 1,000 jobs and diplomatic goodwill with Canada. He banned fracking on federal lands and paused oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. According to a White House fact sheet, he told federal agencies to “accelerate clean energy and transmission projects.” He is sure to bestow federal largesse on the sons of Solyndra.
The alternative energy sector overwhelmingly favors Democrats. Its political investments have paid off. The old-style extractive industries, mainly based in GOP strongholds, will suffer. In some cases they are targeted for extinction. The knock-on effects are serious. “Wyoming state superintendent Jillian Balow notes that her state depends on some $150 million a year in oil and gas federal royalties to fund K-12 schools,” says the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
Other Biden measures resumed the flow of government aid to the special interests behind his campaign. The second Catholic president has jumpstartedfederal funding of Planned Parenthood almost two years after President Trump cut off the nation’s largest abortion provider. Biden also reversed President Trump’s ban on money for “sanctuary cities” that choose not to enforce federal immigration law. That decision will help boost the budgets of progressive municipalities eager to pass off the costs of illegal immigration. Biden’s codification of the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, which made gender identity protected under civil rights law, and his lifting of the ban on trans soldiers is sure to please a class of donors essential to Democratic Party finances.
Biden’s proposed American Rescue Plan best captures the new administration’s intermingling of public policy and greasy-pole gamesmanship. Take, for example, the $130 billion that Biden wants to spend on K-12 schools. That number is on top of the $67 billion Congress already has committed to reopening elementary and secondary schools.
The additional cash is a handout to the teachers’ unions, who have opposed a return to in-person instruction at every opportunity, and who are among Biden’s closest allies. Biden has adopted the unions’ rhetoric, saying that schools cannot open until they have been renovated. He’s wrong, of course—measures such as masks, hygiene, and social distancing are enough to stop the spread, especially among the elementary schoolers who need in-person classes the most and whose transmission rates are low. But science doesn’t matter. The unions must get paid.
One year after COVID-19 appeared in America, it is more than evident that arbitrary, statewide lockdowns are a disaster for small businesses, which happen to be a key part of the Republican coalition. The states that have done the most to reopen have best weathered the economic storm. And these same states tend to be low-tax, low-minimum-wage, and have a business-friendly regulatory environment, as well as a warmer climate. The Wall Street Journal reports that the South is leading America’s recovery. But, in the heavily Democratic northeast, “The recovery of jobs has lagged behind.”
What does Biden want? His solution is to make Florida and Texas more like New York and California. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Paul H. Kupiec, calculates that the nationwide $15 minimum wage contained in the American Rescue Plan would “shift business formation, growth, and employment from red states to blue, as the higher minimum wage erodes red states’ labor cost advantage in many job categories.” What’s best for Cuomo, however, is not what’s best for the country.
A steep minimum wage hike in the middle of an economic crisis that disproportionately affects small business is the exact opposite of what you want to do to spur full employment. But it does make sense if you are using the crisis to gain leverage for unions and government over free labor and the private sector.
Blue America began to claw back red America’s earnings last week. And the next four years (at least) will see the Biden coalition press its advantage.
The Keystone XL pipeline is our best bet for a secure energy future.
By Peter Roff • U.S. News
It’s long overdue. The pipeline is a needed addition to the U.S. energy infrastructure that will do much to help America reduce its dependence on energy sources produced in politically volatile regions of the world. In the interim, its construction will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in vital industries, the kind some politicians like to call “good jobs and good wages.” Continue reading
by Phil Kerpen
The decision to yet again delay the final permit for the popular Keystone XL pipeline was made not in the White House or at the State Department, but in a posh private residence in the Sea Cliff neighborhood in northwestern San Francisco. It was there on February 19 that former vice president Al Gore and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the pilgrimage to Tom Steyer’s home to kiss the ring of the hedge fund-billionaire turned super-donor, in exchange for $400,000 that night and a promise of $100 million more to come. Steyer’s sole demand? Stop the pipeline.
There were six Senate Democrats present: Reid, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Mark Udall of Colorado. All had voted against the pipeline in a test vote offered as a budget amendment last year, although 17 Democrats voted for the bipartisan measure. Continue reading
It appears increasingly clear that the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline project is being studied to death as President Obama dithers over whether to approve it. The massive project to move Canadian oil to American refineries should already be under construction, but the president can’t decide whether to pander to Big Green environmentalists who rabidly oppose it or to the trade unions who want to build it and benefit from the thousands of jobs that it would create. So he keeps moving the goal posts, from one study to the next, desperate to avoid responsibility for the final decision.
The latest study, released Jan. 31 by the State Department, found that the pipeline would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, confirming the results of a draft version that was released in March 2013. That conclusion should put to rest Obama’s professed concern that the pipeline would add to the problem of greenhouse gases. Other studies have concluded that not approving Keystone XL could do more environmental damage because Canada will sell its oil to China. The Asian giant’s environmental standards fall far short of America’s. Continue reading
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough discussed with NBC News’ David Gregory the administration’s foot-dragging on the Keystone XL pipeline. The Sunday interview came in the wake of the State Department’s latest report on the project, which again found no good reason to block construction of an oil pipeline from western Canada to Steele City, Neb.
The chat produced this rich quote from Mr. McDonough on President Barack Obama’s refusal to approve the privately funded project thus far: “He’s been very clear that he’s going to insulate this process from politics.”
But politics are indeed driving the president’s Keystone inaction, thanks largely to climate change and environmental alarmists. How else to explain the more than five-year wait for approval of the Keystone pipeline, a project that requires no tax money, is shovel ready and loaded with good-paying jobs? The State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, released Jan. 31, concludes: “During construction, proposed Project spending would support approximately 42,100 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced), and approximately $2 billion in earnings throughout the United States.” Continue reading
Fixated as we Americans are on Canada’s three most attention-getting exports — polar vortexes, Alberta clippers, and the antics of Toronto’s addled mayor — we’ve somewhat overlooked a major feature of Canada’s current relations with the United States: extreme annoyance.
Last week, speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s foreign minister calmly but pointedly complained that the U.S. owes Canada a response on the Keystone XL pipeline. “We can’t continue in this state of limbo,” he sort of complained, in what for a placid, imperturbable Canadian passes for an explosion of volcanic rage.
Canadians may be preternaturally measured and polite, but they simply can’t believe how they’ve been treated by President Obama — left hanging humiliatingly on an issue whose merits were settled years ago. Continue reading
“When American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done,” senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said, “he will not wait for Congress.” Other members of Obama’s camp used similar language during appearances on Sunday’s talk shows.
By “Congress,” the president means Republicans, particularly in the House, who have not been keen on his progressive agenda. Obama laid out big plans during this speech a year ago, following his re-election, but things like stricter gun control and immigration reform ended up on high center. Continue reading
At the rate President Obama is going, he may claim that building the Keystone XL pipeline will actually cost jobs. In an interview with the New York Times last Saturday, he argued that the best estimate is 2,000 initial construction jobs followed by no more than an additional 100 jobs, a mere “blip.”
The newspaper’s transcript of the interview showed Obama chuckling dismissively as he made his point.
Then on Tuesday, in a jobs speech in Chattanooga, the president ratcheted that number downward. “They keep on talking about this — an oil pipeline coming down from Canada that’s estimated to create about 50 permanent jobs. That’s not a jobs plan.” Continue reading
by the Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
President Obama’s new envirocratic and anti-growth “climate action plan” ignores genuine science, tramples representative government, spells economic ruin and — like so much federal grandiosity — clearly wasn’t subjected to proper cost-benefit analysis. Continue reading