A Financial Times article posted Sunday night questions former Vice President Joe Biden’s lurch to the left on energy when his record shows more support for fossil fuels than windmills or solar panels.
“He served in an Obama administration that oversaw a historic surge in American oil and gas production, as shale went mainstream. Tens of thousands of wells were drilled and energy-bearing rocks fractured from North Dakota to Texas,” the Times reported. “And the industry cheered when the government he was part of lifted a ban on crude exports in 2015.”
Now, Biden is promising an energy policy that would not only undo the current energy renaissance in the United States but one that aligns so closely with Bernie Sanders and the Green New Deal supporters that his campaign released the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations Combating the Climate Crisis and Pursuing Environmental Justice document.
The Times reported that one fossil fuel industry stakeholder compared Biden’s climate change agenda to the “Tet Offensive” on fossil fuels, referring to the North Vietnamese attack on South Vietnam that spelled the disastrous end to U.S. involvement in the conflict.
The Times previewed what will be unveiled during the virtual Democrat convention this week:
The plan, which will be aired again at the Democratic party convention this week, earmarks $2 trillion in spending over the next four years to use climate policy to drag the economy out of its pandemic-era recession. But Mr. Biden’s plans for the energy sector would reach into everything from Middle East geopolitics to the global race with China over clean tech and is likely to prove unpopular among parts of the U.S. electorate – dependent on oil and gas for jobs – in an election year.
It means energy will be pivotal to November’s election — and the election pivotal to the future of the energy industry, with huge domestic and international implications.
The outcome appears binary. On one hand is the status quo of Donald Trump who, as president, has proclaimed an era of American “energy dominance,” torn up rules hindering drilling, weakened environmental oversight, and taken advantage of the US’s reduced dependence on foreign supplies to impose sanctions on oil exporters from Venezuela to Iran. On the other, the green revolution proposed by Mr Biden, who has also committed to rejoining both the Iranian nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord — multilateral agreements that Mr Trump withdrew from, claiming they were bad for the U.S.
Biden has pledged, if elected, net zero emissions by 2050 — a date Biden will no live to see and many years past the 12 years left before the planet implodes from climate change as Sanders and others have claimed.
“The plan, they say, will resurrect American manufacturing and the country’s leadership — and, by including elements of the Green New Deal supported by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, satisfies the Democratic party’s leftwing without scaring its middle,” the Times reported.
“It’s hard to overstate how far Joe Biden’s Democratic party has shifted on fossil fuels, especially natural gas, in just four years,” Bob McNally, a former adviser in the George W. Bush White House and now head of Rapidan Energy Group, said in the Times report.
The report also notes that no matter who controls Congress in 2021 not every Democrat will support these drastic measures.
Biden’s plan “is certainly ambitious,” the Times report said. It calls the installation of tens of thousands of wind turbines, millions of solar panels and a doubling of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and some more vague promises on other green energy fronts.
“That would still leave natural gas and coal generating almost half of all power in the U.S.” come 2050, the Times reported.
Carbon capture and storage is also on Biden’s “to do” list, and would mean much more federal spending to make that goal at all possible.
And then there is Biden’s pledge during the debates for “no more fracking” — a technology that has created tens of thousands of jobs and led to U.S. energy independence.
“Mr. Biden need not announce a specific fracking ban to damage their industry, say fossil fuel executives — especially after the devastation brought by this year’s oil price crash,” the Times reported. “He could simply do so by reviving Obama-era environmental rules, curbing leakage of methane — a greenhouse gas more potent than CO2 — from pipelines and other facilities, cracking down on the burning-off of unused natural gas at wellheads, or by requiring public companies to disclose climate risks and emissions from their operations.”
“If you’re an oil and gas guy and Biden wins, you’ve got an awful lot to be worried about,” Dan Eberhart, head of Canary, an oilfield services company, said in the Times report. “It seems like his plan is to abandon Pennsylvania, Texas, and oil and gas workers in favor of trying to make the environmentalists happy. There will be a semi-permanent cloud over the industry and that will crowd out investment.”
But Mike Sommers, head of the American Petroleum Institute, said Biden might shift again if elected.
“I’ve met him, I’ve negotiated with him,” Sommers said. “The view from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office is different from behind a podium looking at a crowd on the campaign trail.”
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