A Free-Market Energy Blog

Shifty Joe on Energy (Fracking? Green New Deal?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 20, 2020

First of all, I make it clear, I do not propose banning fracking.”

My deal is a crucial framework, but not the new green deal.”

– Joe Biden. Town Hall, October 15, 2020.

Biden shifts and weaves looking for the middle ground on hydraulic fractionation, a drilling technique that has solidified the role of oil and gas in the 21st century. And he dodges the Green New Deal, or what he stated as the ‘New Green Deal’. (Joe?)

The radical Left (Andrew Dessler here) has largely given Biden/Harris a pass on the Frack Shuffle, but privately the hard Left must be fuming between the ears right now…. Politically, as economically, it’s a fossil fuel world!

For when it comes to climate, there is no political path that can arrest what is seen as global destruction, what shifty Joe himself calls “an existential threat.” And wind and solar, and EVs once removed, as savior? Think again.

Here is Biden’s latest as reported by E&E News:

Joe Biden last night said the U.S. will need to capture emissions from fossil fuel-burning power plants in order to meet his climate goals — a controversial message among progressives that underscores the challenges of rapidly untangling coal and natural gas from the economy.

Biden raised clean energy, unprompted, during the first half-hour of his ABC News event…. The former vice president promised aggressive federal action to build out electricity transmission, electric vehicle charging stations and low-carbon manufacturing.

Biden paired those ambitious promises with messages aimed at moderate voters by nodding to bipartisanship, sensitivity to energy workers and rebukes of the political left.

Calling it by the wrong name, Biden said he breaks with the Green New Deal over its opposition to fossil fuels. He renewed his qualified support for hydraulic fracturing and said natural gas should be part of the energy transition.

Remember decades ago when environmentalists panned electrical transmission as causing cancer? Now, new (unneeded) transmission is required to get wind from the wilds to population centers. And Biden and the fake greens are all in to corporate cronyism in this regard.

“What we have to do is focus on the transmission of energy across the country from areas relating to solar and wind,” Biden said.

Building out transmission infrastructure is something Biden rarely, if ever, mentions on the campaign trail. It was one of several lengthy answers where the former vice president sought to demonstrate policy depth, as he did on education, tax policy, and even battery storage.

Battery technology is always just about competitive. Breakthroughs just ahead…. Adds Biden:

“The battery technology’s increasing significantly so you’re going to be able to have, for example, solar on your home and a battery the size,” making a large box shape with his hands, “in your basement so when the sun doesn’t shine for five days, you still have enough energy,” Biden said.

More pork–carbon capture and storage (CC&S)–to get to negative CO2 emissions.

Biden also stressed the need for carbon capture and sequestration — his most high-profile embrace of the concept yet.

The world’s top climate science body, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said that keeping warming below catastrophic levels will require some form of negative emissions.

Unions in fossil fuel industries have turned to carbon capture as a lifeline. Embracing the technology early in the campaign won Biden important labor support — including, he noted during the town hall, from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, which has a deep presence in oil refineries, heavy industry and fossil-fuel power plants.

Progressive dissent lurks against CC&S:

But many progressives and climate activists balk at it, arguing that the technology is too expensive and offers an excuse to stall the transition away from gas- and coal-generated electricity.

Low energy prices have also complicated the technology’s path forward. Texas’ Petra Nova, one of the world’s largest carbon-capture power projects, has been idle since May because it’s been unable to sell its captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

Biden has mostly avoided controversy on carbon capture by focusing his climate pitch on other policies. But he seemed to lean into it for his Pennsylvania town hall, blending it with his plan for net-zero electricity emissions by 2035.

“We should be moving toward finding the new technologies that are going to be able to deal with carbon capture, so ultimately as a transition we move … to a net-zero emission of carbon, that we’re still going to be able to use, if we find the right technology … some gas … if we can carbon capture,” Biden said.

Green New Deal? Biden tries to run away….

“He put an even greater emphasis on nonrenewable energy when he was asked to clarify his stance on the Green New Deal. Since last year, Biden’s campaign website has called the Green New Deal a crucial framework. But last night he sought more distance from it.

The resolution calls for a 10-year mobilization toward generating 100% of U.S. electricity from “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”

Biden said nonrenewable energy has to be in the mix.

“The difference between me and the new green deal is they say, automatically, by 2030 we’re going to be carbon free. Not possible,” Biden said.

My deal is a crucial framework, but not the new green deal,” Biden said. “The new green deal calls for elimination of all nonrenewable energy by 2030. You can’t get there. You’re going to need to be able to transition. … [In my plan] we invest in new technologies that allow us to do things that get us to a place where we get to net-zero emissions.”

Farming is another hail Mary strategy with CC&S.

Beyond carbon capture, he said the U.S. could sequester greenhouse gases by conserving more land — in part by paying farmers to change their practices. He also emphasized forests.

“The biggest carbon sink in the world is the Amazon. More carbon absorbed from the air, diminishing global warming, in the Amazon than all the carbon emitted on a yearly basis from the United States of America,” he said.

Biden also returned to his usual climate pitch: Use the federal government’s purchasing power to expand the electric vehicle market, invest in charging stations, hire union workers to weatherize millions of buildings — and keep fracking legal, if more regulated.

Biden walks back a ban on fracking….

“First of all, I make it clear, I do not propose banning fracking,” he said in response to a question about fracking’s impact on community health, wildlife and the environment.

“I think you have to make sure that fracking is in fact not emitting methane, or polluting the well, or dealing with what can be small earthquakes in how they’re drilling. So it has to be managed very, very well,” he said.

Renewables as the future? Renewable energies are really the past.

Wind and solar energy are the future, Biden said, adding that he oversaw the 2009 Recovery Act’s investments that eventually lowered the cost of renewable energy.

Instead of subsidizing the oil industry, he said, the government should hire fossil fuel workers to seal thousands of uncapped oil and gas wells.

“We could hire 128,000 of these people who are working in the industry to cap these wells and get a good salary doing it now,” he said.

Sneak in a little global warming ….

Biden said he didn’t want to distract from what he called the improper sprint by Republicans to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who this week said she wasn’t “competent to opine on what causes global warming or not” (Climatewire, Oct. 15).


Anderson Cooper: September 17, 2020

Anderson Cooper challenged Joe Biden on his position on fracking [at the Scranton, Pennsylvania Town Hall event on Thursday], accusing the Democratic presidential nominee of trying to play to multiple sides of the fracking debate.

“You said you won’t ban fracking but that you wanted to gradually move away from it, ultimately. It sounds like, to some, you are trying to have it both ways,” the CNN anchor said during a town hall for Biden on Thursday. “Politically, it’s understandable why you might say that, but if fracking contributes to climate change and climate change is an existential threat, why should it, fracking, continue at all?”

Biden had just told a Pennsylvania worker at the town hall that he supports the continuation of fracking within safe guidelines, adding that it is an important industry for the state.

“Well, fracking has to continue because we need a transition,” Biden said in response to Cooper. “We’re going to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, and we’ll get to net-zero power emissions by 2035. But there is no rationale to eliminate, right now, fracking.”

Despite Biden’s official position that he would not ban fracking if elected president, President Trump’s campaign has attacked Biden by claiming he does not support fracking by pointing to his previous statements during the Democratic primary that were hostile to the practice.

And before:

“I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”

– Joe Biden in western Pennsylvania, August 31, 2020.

But go back and ….

Biden: January 25, 2020

Voter: “But like, what about, say, stopping fracking?”

Biden: “Yes”

Voter: “And stopping pipeline infrastructure?”

Biden: “Yes”

Biden: March 15, 2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): “I’m talking about stopping fracking as soon as we possibly can. I’m talking about telling the fossil fuel industry that they are going to stop destroying this planet — no ifs, buts and maybes about it.”

Former vice president Joe Biden: “So am I.”

Sanders: “Well, I’m not sure your proposal does that. …”

Biden: “No more — no new fracking.”

Exchange at a Democratic presidential primary debate, March 15

Press Reaction

“Biden’s position on fracking has at times been confusing. In a March Democratic primary debate, he said: “No more – no new fracking.” The statement came after his then-rival Bernie Sanders said he would end fracking in the United States to combat global warming. Biden’s campaign then said he meant he would not allow new federal land-drilling leases. [Reuter’s]

Biden’s Hidden Heart

Biden has also said “we should put them in jail” when talking about fossil fuel executives.

Biden also endorsed a carbon tax on the American people, which will force households to pay much higher gasoline, heating, and cooling bills. 

Biden: March 15, 2020

“Number one, no more subsidies for fossil fuel industry. No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, number one.”

In his debate against Bernie Sanders, Biden stated:

No more subsidies for fossil fuel industry, no more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling including offshore, no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill. Period. Ends.

No new fracking and, by the way, on the Recovery Act, I was able to make sure we invested $90 billion in making sure we brought down the price of solar and wind that is lower than the price of coal, that’s why not another new coal plant will be built.

We in fact have the ability to lay down the tracks where no one can change, change the dynamic, and that’s why we should be talking about things like I’ve been talking about for years: high speed rail, taking millions of automobiles off the road.

Regarding Biden’s affinity to the Green New Deal, the Washington Post reported:

Joe Biden is embracing the framework of the Green New Deal in his bid for the White House, calling on the United States to eliminate climate-warming emissions by no later than the middle of the century while creating millions of new jobs and rallying the rest of the world to forestall dangerous rising temperatures….

To that end, Biden’s climate plan adopts the rhetoric — and at times, many of the actual policy proposals — of the Green New Deal resolution put forward this year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), which calls on the nation to eliminate its carbon footprint by 2030.

When asked about government policies against the oil and gas industry that might cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, Biden stated:

The answer is yes…. We should, in fact, be making sure right now that every new building built is energy contained, that it doesn’t leak energy, that in fact we should be providing tax credits for people to be able to make their homes turn to solar power. They’re all kinds of folks — right here in California, we’re now on the verge of having batteries that are about the size of the top of this podium that you can store energy when in fact the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. We have enormous opportunities.

Biden’s described his climate plan:

… I’d love to do it [net zero emissions] by 2030 [instead of 2050]. I’d love to do it by 2035 … but I know no scientist who says that’s able to be done right now. But one thing we have to do, we have to start quickly, we have to start and do things that we know can be done immediately, and progress from there and just keep moving. There’s a lot we have to do by 2030 just to set in place a set of institutional structures….

COOPER: Would you support a carbon tax? Some other candidates say they would.

BIDEN: Yeah, no, I would. But here’s what we have to do. Look, the bottom line of this is, what we have to do is we have to understand that you need to be able to bring people and countries and interests together to get anything done. You can have — plans are great, but executing on those plans is a very different thing. We make up — it’s the existential threat of not this generation, but the whole world, the existential threat that exists, if we don’t move on it, number one.

One Comment for “Shifty Joe on Energy (Fracking? Green New Deal?)”

  1. John Garrett  

    Biden has the intellectual chops of a gerbil.


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