Why Joe Biden’s Green Energy Policy is Dead
Fair Observer’s new feature FO° Insights makes sense of issues in the news.
US President Joe Biden and many Democrats have argued for a Green New Deal. They seem to emulate Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal that pulled the US out of the Great Depression. They believe that public investment in green energy and new technologies will fight climate change, create high-paying jobs in the US and boost the American economy.
We spoke to Contributing Editor Christopher Roper Schell, a Capitol Hill veteran who has also worked on the Pentagon, to make sense of the Green New Deal in the context of soaring oil and gas prices, and the prospect of blackouts.
Christopher Roper Schell on Joe Biden’s Energy Policy
(We have edited this transcript lightly for clarity.)
Is clean energy a mirage?
Christopher Roper Schell: It depends on what you mean by clean energy.
If you think windmills and solar panels are going to run the US electric grid, that’s not going to happen.
What we need is baseload power and baseload power is going offline primarily because of the economic incentives behind green energy in the United States. Interestingly, CO2 has been declining substantially, primarily because natural gas is simply cheaper.
What we’ll have to concern ourselves with is to ensure that we do not have the blackouts we’re being warned against. A semi-regulatory body has issued a warning that up to 2/3 of America could experience blackouts this summer. That is simply unacceptable to Americans and a green energy future that eventually has blackouts is not going to transpire.
What is the significance of high gas and nickel prices?
Christopher Roper Schell: For the Greens, high gas prices are the point: they actually want gasoline prices to go up. However, Americans have rejected this.
They’re getting a look at what a potential carbon tax would look like, and they don’t like it. The Biden administration has tried to suffocate traditional energy sources such as natural gas and oil. In fact, the Chevron CEO said last week that he didn’t envision another refinery ever in the United States.
There’s clearly a rebellion against high gas prices and also against nickel prices. Nickel goes into almost everything that’s green and the US doesn’t produce that much of it. There is one single nickel mine in the US.
And we’re seeing nickel prices that are at peaks that we have not seen for the last 30 years. America cannot go green without producing a lot of nickel cheaply, and that’s not happening.
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Is there a supply-side threat from China?
Christopher Roper Schell: Yes, there is. China produces four times more rare earths than America does. China has six rare earths mining companies. America has one mine.
In terms of solar panels, most of the US solar panels that are installed come from foreign shores; about 90% in fact.
Interesting story — Auxin Solar is this little bitty US domestic solar panel producer, and they have filed a complaint with the Commerce Department. The Commerce Department began investigating and the installation of solar panels completely froze in this country. Ultimately, the Biden administration stepped in and declared that there would be no new tariffs on imported solar panels to prevent the market from collapsing.
So in this rush to green utopia, the administration decided that it’s OK to support China and to essentially leave their own domestic suppliers out to dry.
Is the Keystone XL pipeline the answer?
Christopher Roper Schell: No one disputes that Keystone XL would have produced 830,000 barrels of oil a day. That’s a drop in the bucket in terms of global consumption.
The big problem today is that we just need to produce more oil and currently producers are not responding to price signals. Why? Because they’ve been punished.
Last week, Biden said of Exxon, pay your taxes. I didn’t know that oil producers had ever stopped paying taxes, but the president is using all sorts of regulatory methods to disincentivize the production of oil and gas. Amongst other things, as I mentioned earlier, he’s not holding lease sales. I know he will say that there are already loads of outstanding leases, but that also means that they need permits. And oftentimes, the Biden administration has not allowed permits.
Either way, it’s better to get oil from places like the US and Canada via Keystone vis-à-vis places like Iran and Venezuela.
Is the Green New Deal now dead?
Christopher Roper Schell: Let me put it this way, no politician right now is saying if you like your new high gas prices, you can keep your new high gas prices.
[There is now no appetite for] a carbon tax. The Green Deal is dead if it ever was alive. While people may virtue signal with their post-consumer cup or rich people may drive around feeling very fancy in their electric cars, the fact is that most people aren’t willing to make the major compromises they will have to make for a Green New Deal type future.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.