Biden’s climate plan

Barbara G Ellis
Thursday, Jun 08, 2023

President Biden is said to be in deep trouble with the youth and environmentalist voting bloc over breaking his 2020 campaign promise of “no more drilling on federal lands, period! Period, period, period!!” and failure to stop the completion of a natural-gas pipeline. Tens of thousands of them aim to end fossil fuels’ major and fatal role in global climate change caused chiefly by carbon dioxide emissions into Earth’s atmosphere.

Their outcries and unending opposition to Big Oil’s fossil-fuel operations have recently focused on two targets.

First is the approval in mid-March of drilling permits to ConocoPhillips on the Willow Project’s Indiana-size section of the National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska’s North Slope. Previous presidents approved Conoco’s leases since the 1990s. If ever developed, emission projections are for 9.2 million etric tons of annual carbon emissions.

The second perceived betrayal has been his agreement with House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy for permits to complete the $6.6 billion natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in West Virginia and Virginia. Despite their environmental nature, the permits have been artfully slipped into the critical debt-ceiling limit bill awaiting Biden’s signature to prevent the nation’s first default and inability to pay its bills. The completion of MVP would release 89 million metric tons of carbon, equal to emissions from 26 coal plants or 19 million cars. However, all is not necessarily inevitable.

An official at Oil Change International (OCI) indicates Biden could redeem those projected losses, mostly by emphasizing his past and present positive environmental record of the last two years in the next 17 months to Election Day. OCI’s US co-manager Allie Rosenbluth pointed out that: “President Biden must enforce a clean debt ceiling package that does not allow for any rollbacks to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other bedrock environmental laws. While his recent climate track record has been nothing short of disastrous, it is not too late for him to turn it around and hold true to his environmental justice campaign promises.”In fairness, his environmental credentials have been outstanding compared to his predecessors. But they are largely unknown or forgotten today by most voters. He and his aides and climate staff have amassed an undeniable climate record in the last two years.

It started in the final 2020 presidential debate, when Biden risked losing donors and major retaliation from the gas/oil industry by correctly predicting it would be eventually replaced by renewable energy. Moreover, if elected, he would “stop giving it federal subsidies ($20 billion annually).” At least 45 House Democrats agreed as cosponsors of Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer’s supportive bill “End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act of 2021.” Filed on March 26, it was assigned that same day to the Ways and Means committee and never got to a floor vote. That may well change shortly with public awareness their taxes are subsidizing the industry charging them nearly $6 at the pump.

The first day in office, Biden authorized rejoining the Paris Agreement Treaty. A week later, he issued Executive Order 14008 setting up the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. It would partner with his advising and policymaking Council on Environmental Quality, and use a National Climate Task Force for action to ensure every federal agency “prioritize acting on climate change.” He then announced a goal of 50 percent of new cars and light trucks be “zero-emission vehicles” by 2030, and, later, 100 percent of medium and heavy-duty trucks by 2040. By April, when Republicans in Congress succeeded in passing a bill to end EPA protections of the Clean Water Act, Biden vetoed it.

Internationally, he joined 100 other leaders in September to sign US participation in the Global Methane Pledge to reduce the world’s methane emissions by 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.

Last June, it was his Defense Production Act for a two-year tariff freeze on imported solar panels and heat pumps for homes, factories, and farms. Then, though Biden’s $2 trillion ambitious Build Back Better bill of September 2021 stalled in Congress ($555 billion for climate), it was revised as the Inflation Reduction Act and passed last August providing a historic $391 billion for clean energy and climate projects. By October, he was giving $2.8 billion to 20 battery companies agreeing to hiring practices of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

This year, Biden’s implemented other actions following his State of the Union blast in January at Big Oil’s stratospheric profits for 2022 (“outrageous”): Exxon : $56 billion; Shell: $42.3 billion; TotalEnergy: $36.2 billion; ConocoPhillips: $18.7 billion, etc. With a FY2023 budget allocation of $44.9 billion for climate, he added the Justice40 Initiative a few weeks ago to revitalize President Clinton’s 1994 Executive Order (No. 12898): environmental justice for minority and low-income people. Biden’s mandated goal is to deliver 40 percent of the federal government’s benefits — “clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments” — to low-income and minority communities suffering pollution. Nineteen federal agencies are involved in the initiative’s 470 programs. Not long after this, he announced a regulation requiring most fossil-fuel power companies to prepare for cutting 90 percent of gas emissions between 2035 and 2040.Yet most of these actions are unknown to voters either ignoring or denying global-warming. They are highly unlikely to rise by the millions, like Vietnam war protesters, to demand half of the Pentagon’s allocations be spent on a ‘climate-protection war’. For them, it seems as if doing battle against an overwhelming foe either causes “inaction guilt,” “climate anxiety” or is viewed as a lost cause. Or, shockingly, that the subject is boring.

Like it or not, it probably won’t be long before Biden and his climate teams shift attention to those behind the wheel pumping untold millions of carbon and other elements into the atmosphere. Gas and oil rationing will be an outrageous awakening to the climate war, particularly to diehard deniers. The right to drive is so deeply embedded in our culture that any impingement is akin to actions against the right to bear arms. Yet major rationing programs have been mandated twice in the late 1900s because of wars in Europe and the Mideast.

During World War II, rationing covered basic necessities of gas, food, and clothing. Millions were super-patriotic, but infuriated by ration books and stamps, the weekly four-gallon gas limit, and a maximum speed of 35. Most were well aware the rationing system was rife with cheating, bribery, extortion, the black market, but also with bureaucratic missteps at local, state, and federal levels. Rationing returned in 1973-74 when the Mideast’s oil cartel (OPEC) — incensed about US support of Israel against Egypt’s effort to recover its lost territory — set off a near year-long embargo of oil sales to this country. Because of the WWII disastrous experience, federal designers vowed to make rationing simpler, fairer — and far less costly in paper supplies.

Pump sales were by even and odd days based on the last digit of license-plate numbers. Yet it led to public fury about wasting gas in hunting stations flying green flags for gas, red for none, and refusal to answer their phones. Worse, it meant miles-long lines at stations, hours-long waits, and mayhem, according to the Smithsonian Magazine (“Fights broke out, and some station owners began carrying guns for self-protection”).

Excerpted: ‘On Biden’s Climate Track Record — and $1 Gas’.