A centerpiece of President Biden’s first two weeks on the job is a series of executive orders and other directives to move the United States towards zero carbon emissions by 2050. After listening to his Climate Czar, John Kerry, it appears the goal is to transition to renewable energy such as solar and wind. There has been no mention of nuclear power, and the executive actions have already started to set limits on leases for oil and natural gas production on federal lands.
With Biden’s day one actions, 11,000 Americans lost their jobs when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline project. This action is the first way Biden’s energy policies will make the world dirtier. It is not that we will not be taking oil and natural gas from Canada at all. We will. However, instead of transporting it through a pipeline system with low carbon emissions, it will be transported by train and truck.
California’s energy costs are some of the highest in the country because they have the same aggressive goals for net-zero emissions that Biden is mandating. As a result of decommissioning natural gas and nuclear plants, the state’s grid became so unstable last summer there were rolling blackouts during a heatwave. These coincided with wildfires and pandemic lockdowns. The governor has also mandated adding hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles to that grid over the next 14 years.
Plans to shore up the grid are not clear as current battery storage technologies limit the electricity that can be stored to use when hydroelectric, solar, and wind produce under capacity. Yet gas and nuclear plants with sunset dates are already doing demolition or need significant repair to continue to produce at required levels.
California’s “clean” energy transition has also raised energy costs significantly, especially as compared the natural gas. The price places a significant burden on low and middle-income families. Further restrictions will exacerbate the financial burden for residents on an already unstable grid.
California’s goal is to get to net-zero emissions by 2045 and has been working on its plan for years with investments to reduce emissions. Under Biden, it appears we will be building the plane while we are flying it to meet the same goal by 2050. Biden already placed a 60-day ban on new leases for fracking and natural gas on federal lands. It isn’t easy to believe the Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland and Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm will reinstate new leases after the assessment period.
Haaland was endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, a radical climate organization that advocated for the Green New Deal, which she also co-sponsored. Granholm is the former governor of Michigan with quite a list of failed green energy projects that cost billions in taxpayer dollars that fell far short on job projections, and often went bankrupt. And when John Kerry talked about the job growth in solar and wind, his assessment was deceptive at best. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects both job categories to add slightly more than 10,000 jobs by 2029. That’s almost as many who lost their job on the Keystone XL.
During Granholm’s Senate confirmation, she inadvertently pointed out the other two problems with this transition. We will not be energy independent, and our needs will enrich our enemies or make us less safe. Suppose our natural gas and oil production decrease to the point we become a net importer again. In that case, we will be buying from Russia, Venezuela, and Middle Eastern countries. That decreases our leverage in foreign policy and increases the likelihood of military intervention. These countries are also less environmentally conscious, making the world a little dirtier. And while we lose jobs in the sector, families’ energy costs will rise in a post-pandemic economy.
Second, solar and wind energy require rare earth metals. The U.S. has significant restrictions on mining these raw materials because of, ironically, the environmental impacts. China has the most rare earth deposits globally, mining 80% of the supply. And China refines 95% of it. The country also makes 71% of the world’s solar photovoltaic modules. China is also the dominant producer of lithium-ion batteries needed for electric vehicles and power storage.
The Chinese Communist Party is willing to subsidize critical industries to create or maintain a competitive advantage. Recently we learned how effectively they had done this in the pharmaceutical and medical supply industries. Does it make any sense at all to be this dependent on them for our energy needs? We spent decades dependent on the Middle East, which cost us dearly in blood and treasure, until the natural gas revolution. Reliance on China will cost us more, including many of the green jobs Biden and his climate cabal are promising.
According to climate activist Michael Shellenberger, the renewables Biden’s plan prioritizes are also low-density producers not meant to power industrial economies. He says that if the administration were interested in reducing scarcity and lowering costs for families with a lower disposable income, Biden would be directing them to focus on natural gas and nuclear. Leading a plan that leaves us reliant on a country that poses an existential threat to the West is absolutely irresponsible.
Finally, Biden reentered the Paris Climate Accords. As John Kerry noted last week, further reducing emissions in the U.S. will not impact the globe. China and India are the world’s largest polluters, and they get a pass in the Accords. Kerry says it is our job to bring these countries on board in reducing their emissions. It sounds sort of like it was our duty to open trade with China so they would become more democratic. At what cost is the question everyone should be asking because Biden’s climate policies will do nothing to increase the prosperity or security of American families. Except maybe his own.