Democrats Soften on Climate As Reality Suddenly Appears?
Senior Policy Analyst, CFACT
[Editor’s Note: Democrats in Congress have gotten an awakening as to energy reality as Biden and European green policies have produced unacceptable oil and gas prices.]
Mike Tyson once observed, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
March 8 was to be anti-oil Democrats’ big day. Having pilloried (weak-kneed) Big Oil executives during two previous hearings over supposed climate change prevention failures, House Oversight Committee leaders had planned to really tighten the thumbscrews.
At their October 2021 hearing, committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and chief inquisitor Ro Khanna (D-CA) insisted that Big Oil commit to reducing US oil and gas production by 3-4% annually (50-70% total by 2050). Otherwise, they claimed, global temperatures will rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (calculated from the end of the Little Ice Age and beginning of the Industrial Revolution, both around 1850) – which “the science” says would be an “existential threat” to Planet Earth.
“I don’t need” an “American apple pie speech” about “meeting the needs of society,” Mr. Khanna told ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods. Will Exxon reduce production? Yes or no? the congressman demanded.
During the February 8, 2022 hearing, the two legislators demanded that oil companies “live up to” the “climate pledges” they have made. Shell and BP, they said, have promised to go net-zero on all their greenhouse gas emissions. However, ExxonMobil and Chevron pledges apply only to emissions associated with drilling and production operations.
That is completely inadequate, Maloney and Khanna argued. Not only do these two American companies not “plan to reduce their oil production by a single drop.” Their pledge ignores the “whopping 90%” of emissions that come from consumers burning the fuels they produce. The pledges and legislators also ignore emissions from China, India and other countries, which dwarf US emissions many times over.
The two companies should have diversified into “clean renewable” energy. That’s how they can lower people’s heating bills and prices at the pump, and climate-killing emissions, the legislators suggested.
Of course, Mr. Khanna added, in a sudden about-face, he supports President Biden’s “decisive actions” to help lower gas prices,” by asking OPEC, Saudi Arabia and Russia to increase oil production and “calling on all oil companies to temporarily increase production.” (Foreign oil doesn’t emit greenhouse gases?)
The legislators promised to hold a third hearing on March 8, when they would interrogate oil company executives “under oath,” “aggressively investigate” the industry’s role in fueling “the climate crisis,” and demand that oil companies “stop funding climate disinformation.” The March hearing would be Big Oil’s “last chance to cooperate” with Congress, Ms. Maloney warned ominously.
Enter Mike Tyson, in the form of skyrocketing energy and food prices – and bullets and missiles flying in Ukraine. The chairwoman abruptly canceled the inquisition mere days before it was to be held. She and her Democrat colleagues clearly didn’t want to be humiliated by unfolding events and the grilling they would likely receive from Republicans, witnesses and their constituents. Realities can be troublesome.
Even as post-Covid demand surged in an America and world that still rely on oil, gas and coal for 80% of their energy, Congressional Democrats, the White House, federal agencies and activist groups worked in consort to cancel pipelines, impose leasing and drilling moratoriums, slow-walk permits, and pressure financial institutions to stymie funding for oil and gas operations.
As they choked off production and supplies, oil, natural gas and gasoline prices nearly doubled during Mr. Biden’s first year in office. The price of food and nearly all consumer products and services soared in response. Salaries are being hammered by inflation. Consumers (aka voters) voiced their outrage.
Then Russian forces invaded Ukraine, slaughtering civilians and sending millions fleeing to neighboring countries. President Biden continued importing 670,000 barrels of Putin crude oil and refined products every day. Gasoline hit $7 per gallon in some cities the day the hearing was to be held.
Finally, right when the congressional inquisition would have been underway, Mr. Biden finally issued an executive order banning imports of Russian crude oil, refined products and natural gas. Congress signaled it might codify the ban into law. Global oil prices shot to $110 per barrel.
The President could have told his federal regulators to get agency boots off the necks of American exploration, production and pipeline companies – and start expediting permits. He could have told climate activists, banks and financial institutions to pause their war on fossil fuels.
Instead, he’s still trying to persuade Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Putin ally Venezuela to increase their oil production, to keep prices from skyrocketing further. He’s still using Russia to broker a new nuclear deal with Iran, thereby permitting the Islamist regime to sell more oil on the global market!
Amid cries of “Putin Price Hikes,” the Biden Administration and congressional Democrats continue to obsess over the “climate crisis” and promote a rapid “transition” to “renewable” energy.
It’s an exercise in distraction and magical thinking. Wind and sunshine are certainly clean and renewable. However, harnessing this widely dispersed, weather-dependent energy to meet huge and growing US and global energy needs requires millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, billions of battery modules and thousands of miles of new transmission lines that need enormous quantities of metals and minerals, which are absolutely not clean, renewable or sustainable.
Indeed, just Mr. Biden’s initial 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy would require 110,000 tons of copper – plus massive amounts of cobalt, lithium, nickel, aluminum, steel, rare earth elements and other materials. Getting just the copper would require mining 25 million tons of ore. But federal bureaucrats and judges have already shut down three proposed U.S. copper mines. Again, that’s just the copper.
How many tons of metals, minerals, ores and overburden will be required overall for wind turbines, solar panels, battery modules, transformers and transmission lines in an all-electricity Green New Deal economy? How much fossil fuel energy to do all this work? Where will the mining, processing and manufacturing take place? (Alaska, California and Colorado? Or China, Russia and Africa?)
How much environmental destruction, and child and slave labor, will be involved? What will these materials cost, as demand surges? How much land and wildlife will be impacted by the mining, factories, and industrial wind, solar and battery installations as far as the eye can see?
Green New Dealers don’t have a clue, and don’t care. They also figure they will be exempted from the “inconveniences.” We will be the ones paying. We ought to care. The amounts are truly mind-boggling. For clues about the almost unfathomable impacts and costs, look here, here, here, here and here.
Europe and the United States already have minimal leverage (and credibility) over China and Russia on diplomatic matters, territorial ambitions – or open warfare. The vaunted Green New Deal would likely make America almost totally reliant on Chinese and Russian companies for “renewable” energy materials.
Media, academia and federal agencies are already populated by anti-fossil-fuel stalwarts. But making matters worse, Putin cronies have long funded clandestine money laundering operations to finance major disinformation campaigns by US and EU environmentalist groups, to undermine drilling, fracking and pipeline programs. The US Senate “Billionaires’ Club” report, Environmental Policy Alliance’s “From Russia with Love” analysis, articles by investigative journalists Ron Arnold and Lachlan Markay (here and here), and studies by the US National Intelligence Director and US House Science Committee provide extensive, disturbing details that Democrats in Congress and the Administration have ignored.
The Ukraine invasion is prompting renewed attention to these nefarious activities benefitting the Sea Change Foundation, Sierra Club, Climate Action Network, NRDC and other groups.
The Maloney-Khanna Oversight Committee should investigate these money laundering and Green New Deal mining, cost and ecological issues – and leave the “climate crisis” and “price-gouging” fantasies to Hollywood horror and conspiracy movies. But don’t hold your breath.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environment, health and human rights issues.
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