Can you remember as far back as the 2020 campaign for President? If you can, you will surely recall candidate Joe Biden carefully positioning himself as the moderate relative to the other candidates from his party. This principle applied particularly to issues of energy and “climate.” For example, candidate Biden repeatedly denied on the debate stage that he had any plans to ban “fracking” for oil and gas.
During the presidential debate of October 22, 2020, President Trump directly challenged candidate Biden, on the subject: “Would you close down the oil industry?” Biden responded that he “would transition away from the oil industry, yes.” But he and/or his staffers then immediately decided that that position would not play too well in Peoria, so the next day they released a statement saying that “Mr Biden planned to phase out taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel companies, not the industry altogether.” On that same day, Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris was quoted to the same effect, repeating herself for emphasis:
“Let’s be really clear about this,” said the California senator, “Joe Biden is not going to ban fracking. He is going to deal with the oil subsidies. . . . But let’s be clear, what Joe was talking about was banning subsidies, but he will not ban fracking in America.”
Well, that was then, and this is now. So what’s the real story? You’ll never find out where this administration is going from trying to listen to Biden himself, since he doesn’t say much, rarely takes a question, and in the few things he does say generally borders on incoherence. But there’s another place you can look. As President, Biden gets to appoint all kinds of advisory councils and committees. The members of these things are not subject to confirmation. He (and his handlers) can put on them anyone they want, without asking anyone’s permission. Essentially, the whole “advisory council” thing therefore is a well-understood charade, where members can be chosen based on their already-known positions, and the “advice” consists of recommending to the powers that be that they should do what they already wanted to do.
With that context, you really need to take a look at the “Interim Final Recommendations” just released on May 13 from something called the “White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.” You haven’t heard of this Council? It’s a new Biden administration thing. Biden called for its creation in his January 27 Executive Order titled “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” and then announced the members of the new Council on March 29. I don’t actually recognize any of the names of the members, but their affiliations are listed, consisting of one after another of far-left environmental advocacy groups. It looks like the members then got right to work.
The so-called “Interim Final Recommendations” document is some 91 pages long, and every page contains something more extreme, more preposterous, and more destructive than even the page before. The short version is that all compromise positions and half-way measures are to be rejected. Only wind and solar power are acceptable, and the only route to get there is direct government order and/or spending. And then don’t forget the most important part: it has to be done this way because any other alternatives are racist.
The bulk of the document deals with what they call the “Justice40 Initiative,” by which the Executive Order seeks “recommendations on how certain Federal investments might be made toward a goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits flow to disadvantaged communities.” If there is any concern that existing federal law prohibits discrimination in federal grants on the basis of race or gender, nothing here suggests it. (You may know that just yesterday a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction against a Biden Administration initiative awarding priorities based on race and gender in handing out Small Business Administration grants.)
Anyway, they identify the “[k]ey components that require further development for effective implementation of Justice40,” of which the first one is:
Identifying the programs and policies federal (investments) in that can be included in Justice40.
I’ve tried reading that ten times, but can’t make any sense of it. Can you? But after reading through a few dozen pages of bureaucratese, we finally come on pages 55-59 to lists of types of projects that are acceptable and unacceptable, or in their words, projects that “may benefit a community,” and projects that “will not benefit a community.” The second list would exclude all fossil fuel projects, but that is only the very beginning.
1. Fossil fuel procurement, development, infrastructure repair that would in any way extend lifespan or production capacity, transmission system investments to facilitate fossil-fired generation or any related subsidy.
So everything even remotely related to fossil fuel energy generation is completely out, even maintaining the facilities we already have. OK, but how about if we can figure out how to use fossil fuels in a way to add no CO2 to the atmosphere, such as by carbon capture or other technology. Nope, not allowed. Here are the next two that “will not benefit a community”:
2. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) or carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS)
3. Direct air capture
Nuclear? That’s completely free of carbon emissions. Sorry, but no:
4. The procurement of nuclear power
They give no explanation for why nuclear is unacceptable. Hey, it “will not benefit a community.”
You may be getting the impression that all the most extreme positions of the environmental left are getting accepted without question, without any real consideration of actual impacts on either the climate or “disadvantaged communities.” The farther you read, the more that becomes clear. Here are a few more items that are not to be allowed:
- Research and development
- The establishment or advancement of carbon markets, including cap and trade
- Geoengineering and techno fixes
- Highway expansion
- Road improvements or automobile infra-structure, other than electric vehicle charging stations
- Industrial scale bioenergy
- Incentives for investor-owned utilities
- Projects that promote gentrification without any housing policy crafted by a community to prevent displacement
And then of course we need to weave “anti-racism” and critical race theory through the whole enterprise:
Overall Goals and/or Requirements for Investment Benefits:
Addressing institutional racism. . . . Reparations to address past harm and disproportionate burdens. . . . Be Actively Anti-Racist – We pursue policies and strategic investments to reverse racial inequities and strive to repair the environmental injustice of more than 500 years of institutional policies and practices. . . .
Anyway, if you have thought that the right approach for a Republican to take is to try to reach some kind of compromise on emissions reductions, maybe through a carbon tax, or carbon pricing, or promoting nuclear power, or something else like that, think again. We are dealing here with completely crazed zealots, bent on a moral crusade to save the world. With a complete absence of adult supervision in the Biden Administration, these people have taken over and are running the show.