Climate Change: ‘All or Nothing’ Is a Dead End. ‘All of the Above’ Works.
Remember back in January 2021 when progressives touted all the wonderful ways the Biden Administration would address climate change? A year later, it seems Biden’s agenda didn’t do much to save the planet. Did he spend through all that goodwill he had coming into office?
Let’s just say it wouldn’t be surprising to see vendors on the National Mall selling “President Biden went to COP26 and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” souvenirs.
COP26 was the United Nation’s big climate conference held last month in Glasgow Scotland. Nearly 200 countries attended (but not China, the world’s biggest polluter.)
Reflecting afterwards, UN Secretary General António Guterres said, “We did not achieve [our] goals at this conference. But we have some building blocks for progress.”
Perhaps. But this is what happens when ambition overshadows the fundamental objective, abandoned along with common sense.
When it comes to big challenges, we must think big. But we also have to be smart. America’s “all of the above” energy strategy was smart. It made us the world’s leader in cutting carbon emissions. The Democrat’s return to “all or nothing” politics continues to fail.
Biden’s energy agenda has wounded our country, squandered the good faith of the American people, and bizarrely, increases global emissions in the name of climate change.
His first day in office Biden killed Keystone XL, which was to be the world’s first carbon-neutral pipeline project and would have supplied the U.S. and the world with energy from North America in partnership with one of our closest allies. A few days later, he further restricted America’s energy future when he froze all new oil and gas leases on public lands.
These “principle-backed” actions haven’t put a dent in climate change, but they’ve certainly screwed up global energy markets. Prices at the pump began rising immediately, and a pipeline cyberattack – seemingly sanctioned by 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. – left the East Coast in a severe gas supply crisis.
While going to war against pipelines at home, Biden simultaneously lifted sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, clearing the way to make Europe much more dependent on much dirtier Russian natural gas. What happened to those climate principles?
As his poll numbers fell in lockstep with rising gas prices, Biden started begging global despots known as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to release more oil into the market. They declined.
All out of moves, Biden maneuvered a gimmicky, short-lived policy solution and saved consumers two whole cents per gallon by ordering the release of some of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. A reserve meant to alleviate supply disruptions during an emergency – not to try and buy Americans’ political favor after a self-imposed PR crisis.
Finally, the Administration had the audacity to compound its questionable decisions by asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “immediately” investigate whether oil and gas companies could be responsible for pushing up gas prices. But there’s no one else to blame; high gas prices are the predictable and direct result of one bad policy after another.
While gas prices squeeze Americans’ wallets, an unseasonably cold winter is predicted, and this comedy of errors could have tragic consequences. This White House is negligent in its duty to protect the American people, reckless in its planning, and refuses to consider the predictable consequences of its policies.
Usually in Washington, bad outcomes can be chalked up to the law of unintended consequences. In this case, we can’t tell what the intended consequences could have possibly been. Weakening America and our closest allies while enriching our adversaries? Giving up any power we had to influence energy markets?
But our country isn’t the only one abandoning common sense to unscientific and extremist demands. As part of the first Republican-only delegation to COP last month, we had a chance to speak privately with many Europeans who admitted overly aggressive climate posturing has them worried about energy supplies this winter—concerns that have only been exacerbated by the potential for unrest over Ukraine. Many Europeans seem resigned to blackouts and ongoing supply issues because their governments have told them to just accept it. Meanwhile these same leaders abandon zero-emission energy production by shutting down nuclear power plants with no plans to replace them.
Cheap and plentiful, coal looks more and more attractive to countries around the world, for the same reason they once shunned it: to save lives. Thanks to forty years of campaigning to eliminate coal instead of making it cleaner, we lack the necessary technology to bring coal back into the energy mix without also bringing back 1960’s levels of soot and CO2.
Back at home, with energy prices already sky-high, President Biden hasn’t even begun to implement his pledge to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030. Given existing technologies, that promise threatens America with economic catastrophe. Meanwhile, the world’s largest polluter, China, will continue to emit greenhouse gases unabated and more than make up for any emissions gains that resulted from Americans’ sacrifice.
It’s time for the Administration to stop tilting at windmills and start working seriously with Republicans. For years, Democrats have called Republicans “climate deniers” and “obstructionists.”
If anything, 2021 proved the opposite.
Largely unreported by the press, this year the GOP released a commonsense plan: to reduce global emissions 40 percent by 2050 by expanding natural gas, nuclear power and carbon capture; build out an American critical mineral supply chain; and reform the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to get rid of some of the ridiculous red tape in federal permitting.
We know what works: Diversify resources, invest in research and development, and commercialize and export innovation. To engender public trust by celebrating incremental progress while keeping energy reliable and affordable. Reduce emissions but not energy choices. Fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution as we develop new technologies to make them more efficient.
The “all or nothing” approach of the Green New Deal and the Build Back Better reconciliation bill are nothing more than a child’s Christmas list of expensive, unrealistic wishes. It’s time Democrats reach across the aisle to return to “all of the above” solutions that will keep the tree lights on, Americans warm, and the economy humming in the new year and for generations to come.
Heather Reams is President of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization founded in 2013 to engage Republican policymakers and the public about responsible, conservative solutions to address our nation’s energy, economic, and environmental security while increasing America’s competitive edge.