Soaring gas prices test Biden on climate change
WASHINGTON – President Joe BidenThe ambition of the US finally put the US on the road to confrontation climate change is falling into an election year scramble to reduce gas price and demonstrate tangible economic progress to voters.
As environmentalists celebrate Earth Day on Friday, the Biden administration is trying to thread the needle, arguing that the country can continue to pursue a climate-friendly future while keeping prices affordable. .
Rarely, however, are there such obvious trade-offs.
Ahead of the potentially devastating midterm elections for Democrats, the White House is desperate to reduce the cost of a gallon of fuel – the most visible economic indicator, broadcast on giant neon signs at major cities. gas stations on almost every corner. But that means increasing gasoline production globally, just as Biden is trying to phase out America’s fossil fuels.
The administration is also racing to break ground on new road, bridge and public works projects to show his $1.2 trillion infrastructure law is being implemented. This week, however, Biden reinstated rules that require large infrastructure projects to go through complex climate and environmental impacts assessments before they begin, a step that could have may cause significant delays.
And as the White House tries to starve Moscow of the money it needs to wage the war in Ukraine, Biden is pushing countries to stop buying Russian oil and gas. However, the energy has to come from somewhere. The White House recently gave the green light to more US gas exports to Europe, a step that would require the construction of costly new export terminals capable of sustaining use for many years – even if The current crisis is over.
With the goal of preventing its confrontational priorities from colliding, the White House argues that sky-high gas prices and Russia’s war simply underscore the urgency for the United States to immediately switch to renewable energy sources. clean and renewable energy, eliminating anyone’s need to buy oil and gas.
“Ultimately, we and the whole world need to reduce our dependence entirely on fossil fuels,” Biden said last month as he announced new steps to lower gas prices.
Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of the Federation of Conservation Voters, said the Russian invasion has made fossil fuel elimination a matter of national security urgency.
“It will ensure that we no longer depend on oil autocrats,” says Sittenfeld. “And obviously we can’t go into gas price reductions and energy independence.”
However, some energy analysts have questioned that logic, arguing that building massive new wind and solar farms is not a viable solution to immediate reductions in energy costs. ie. Reducing demand for gas-guzzling vehicles, for example, would require the sale of millions more electric vehicles and the installation of tens of thousands of charging stations – steps that are unlikely to solve the cost problem for consumers right now. .
“The Biden administration is on the right track,” said Frank Maisano, a consultant at Bracewell LLP, which represents energy companies. “The problem they have is that the energy reality we face doesn’t match the rapid transition they want to sell. The reality is that it will take longer. ”
Biden’s renewed focus on lowering gas prices in the near-term has opened rare divisions between his administration and environmental groups, who have cheered his first-year efforts to remind America about climate change. On Saturday, climate activists plan to rally outside the White House to increase pre-election pressure on the president.
Smoldering tensions peaked last week when the administration, in a press release on Friday night before Easter weekend and a week before Earth Day, announced it would restart rental sales. for energy companies to drill for oil and gas on federal lands.
The Rising Sun Movement, a youth-focused advocacy group, criticized Biden for “this disastrous decision on climate,” adding: “This is why young people are questioning everything.” the whole political process”.
White House officials argued that Biden, who was a candidate to announce an end to new drilling on federal lands, was pushed back into the corner by a court order forcing the government to hold the sale of the assets. new lease agreement. They point out that Home Secretary Deb Haaland used his discretion to dramatically cut the amount of land offered for sale and increase the royalty fees that companies pay.
“President Biden remains absolutely committed not to conduct additional drilling on public lands,” Biden’s national climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, said this week on MSNBC. She said the administration “had no choice” but to follow the court’s decision and was “looking for ways to reduce its size and impact.”
Despite the pushback from environmentalists, the new leases won’t bring down gas prices anytime soon, given the lengthy leasing, permitting, exploration and drilling process before any new oil or gas. launched on the market.
Capital Alpha Partners, an investment research firm, said in an analysis on Thursday that “best-case scenario, we estimate that planned rental sales will not lead to new production in the future.” at least two years or so.”
On his first Earth Day in office in April 2021, Biden received a wave of admiration and relief from climate advocates as he reversed many of former President Donald Trump’s moves on the issue. on this topic, setting aggressive new goals to cut U.S. emissions and ramp up the most impactful climate investment in history as part of a proposed domestic spending on Construction better his back.
But the spending proposal has died, taking away more than half a billion dollars in climate funding, negating Democrats what should have been their biggest legislative achievement to run ahead of term. The White House pivoted on what steps it could take to move the climate agenda forward while emphasizing smaller climate-related investments in the bipartisan infrastructure act. $1.2 trillion, passed.
Democrats have hoped that the larger climate provisions Biden has sought could still become law this year, either as a standalone measure or as part of a reduced version of the proposal. His original Build Back Better. But there are no signs of serious, advanced negotiations — including with Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., a mandatory vote — and time running out before the campaign season leaves Legislative work in Congress is nearly impossible.
On Friday, leading environmental advocacy groups sent a letter to the White House, reviewed by NBC News, begging him to quickly push ahead with legislation with only Democratic votes, which include more than 550 billion dollars in climate funding, calling it a “heritage defining moment.”
The Sierra Club, the Federation of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups wrote: “Time to close the deal and get this done.
Meanwhile, the gas price crisis has become a top economic priority for the White House and a growing political risk to the president and his party.
Last month, Biden announced he would release 1 million barrels of oil a day from the country’s strategic reserves, one of a number of steps to soon cut gas prices. He also authorized the sale of E15 biofuel this summer, although it is often off-limits during the warmest months of the year due to smog concerns, and encouraged energy producers in the US and foreign countries temporarily drill more oil and gas.
White House officials have seen the moves as concrete, obvious steps the president is taking to lower prices ahead of an election that could largely depend on who voters blame for inflation and prices increase.
“I think many climate groups have really understood the short-term decisions that need to be made to help working families at a time,” said Jamal Raad, executive director of the nonprofit group Evergreen Action. this is serious”. “That said, we can’t take any of the short-term decisions we’re making right now to prevent a rise in carbon for decades to come.”
at Blogtuan.info – Source: nbcnews.com – Read the original article here