President Joe Biden has declared he will “end fossil fuel.” Presidents have declared war on everything from poverty to drugs, but his declaration is much more sinister. His is really a civil war.
The combatants are heavy-handed bureaucrats harassing fellow countrymen who want to do nothing more than fuel their car, cool their home, or use their skills to supply energy or other energy-based products for their neighbors.
Unlike threats such as drugs or poverty, there is no widespread consensus on the “evil” of so-called fossil fuels. Biden’s espoused targets might be coal and oil corporations, but the collateral damage is you and me.
In deciding to “end” fossil fuels, the president — fueled by the Left — has two avenues. He could attack the demand for affordable and efficient carbon-based fuels like coal, gas and oil (try to encourage people to use less of them). Or he could attack the supply, making it harder to produce them in the first place. He has pursued both simultaneously — and as fast as Congress and the courts will let him.
Changing demand takes time — power plants are expensive and are in use for decades, and the average age of an automobile is more than 12 years. Change at that pace is not fast enough if you view gas and oil as an existential threat.
That’s why they’ve also done their best to limit supply. Unfortunately, when commodities are involved, price increases can be sharp and painful when supply and demand are imbalanced. The president’s civil war on gas, oil and coal has victimized you — unless, perhaps, you are a Silicon Valley or Wall Street plutocrat who drives an electric car powered by your home solar panels.
What’s causing the high prices? Historically high crude oil prices (derived from tight supply) are a big part of the problem. So is refining capacity, which has dropped by a million barrels a day in the last few years. The president seems to recognize that high prices from reduced supply has backfired among the population. There was just too much collateral damage.
He’s now saying he’ll use “all reasonable and appropriate Federal Government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery capacity and output in the near term[.]” Biden is also asking dictators around the world to increase their production of crude oil.
Meanwhile, the president and his allies continue attacking the supply of crude and refining here at home. They are slow-walking permits, stopping pipelines and throwing shade at investors who want to provide the capital to increase production.
He’s deployed the Securities and Exchange Commission to require every public company to disclose, really confess, their alleged impact on the climate — all the way down to their suppliers and consumers (that is us). That one rule could cost significantly more than all the combined other SEC rules passed since the 1930’s, according to Heritage’s Paul Ray.
Investors are not eager to make big bets on these investments with the prospect of the industry’s elimination looming. The result is more expensive renewable power generation that is not always reliable. Look at the grids of California and Texas, two of the most wind and solar centric grids.
It’s hardly a coincidence that they experience legendary brownouts and even, sadly, system-wide failures. Meanwhile our geopolitical enemy, China, is expanding its coal production in one year, nearly equivalent to all the EU’s annual production, according to Gabriel Collins at the James A. Baker III Institute at Rice University.
The economic damage from the civil war is not limited to the gas, oil and coal Industries. Energy-intensive industries that would like to operate in the U.S. — the kind of good manufacturing jobs President Biden says he likes: steel, automobiles, fertilizer — are all under threat as well. And so are those who have skills and knowledge about the internal combustion engine (ICE).
Biden is fighting this civil war in the name of “trusting the science” — which, after the last two years, should give everyone pause. But even if you do “trust the science” of climate change, all this pain would be for very little, if any, gain. One expert looked at what would happen under temperature models if the United States followed through on its Paris commitments.
He ran two scenarios and found a temperate reduction of between 0.008 and 0.03 degrees centigrade by 2100.
Derrick Morgan is the executive vice president of The Heritage Foundation.
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