Joe Biden Is Targeting a Great American Industry

Rich Lowry

Joe Biden wants to take one of the great American success stories of the past several decades and drive it into the ground.

He would turn his back on the stupendous wealth represented by proven reserves of oil and gas in this country.

Rather than focusing on producing cheap, abundant energy — a key ingredient to human progress through all of human history — he’d embark on the fool’s errand of trying to adjust the world’s thermostat 80 years from now.

After a 50-year effort to diminish our reliance on Middle Eastern oil, which has miraculously happened at last, Biden would force the U.S. to transition to solar and wind, industries that currently depend on Chinese supply chains.

Whereas California has embraced the radical goal of a carbon-free electric grid by 2045 (and has drastically increased the price of energy in the state already), Biden has seen and raised the Golden State by embracing a goal of 2035.

All this was underlined by Biden’s statement at the end of last week’s debate that he wants to transition from oil, which constituted a gaffe only for anyone who hadn’t been paying attention to his Green New Deal–shaped energy plan.

It’s a funny time to want to kneecap oil and gas. Proven reserves of natural gas in the U.S. are higher than ever before, thanks to American-made technological innovations. A couple of years ago, the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia in crude oil production. In recent years, petroleum and natural-gas exports have been increasing. And, of course, the rise of natural gas has cut U.S. carbon emissions.

This should be considered a national strength to build on, not a national shame to be put on a glide path to extinction. Fossil fuels are a tremendously useful source of energy, and no hype about renewables can obscure that reality.

In 2019, petroleum, natural gas, and coal accounted for 80 percent of overall energy consumption in the United States, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. Renewables made up only 11 percent, and the bulk of that came from biomass (wood and biofuels) and hydroelectric. Despite being heavily subsidized, wind and solar, combined, were responsible for only about a third of our renewable energy.

As Swedish economist Bjorn Lomborg points out, the share of U.S. energy that comes from renewables actually declined over the past century. The rise of fossil fuels was a boon to humanity, a major advance over those old renewables, wood and dung. “Over a century and a half,” Lomborg writes, “we shed our reliance on renewable energy and powered the industrial revolution with fossil fuels.”

The oil and gas industry should also be prized as a source of good American jobs. Petroleum engineers make about $137,000 a year, pump system and refinery operators $72,000 a year, wellhead pumpers $58,000, and roustabouts $44,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The idea that we are going to transition to wind and solar painlessly is a fantasy. Germany has been spending tens of billions of dollars a year trying to make this happen. Its renewable energy program has doubled the cost of energy, while fossil fuels still account for about 80 percent of its energy supply.

If we think eschewing fossil fuels is going to convince other countries to do the same, we are fooling ourselves. Like in the United States, the industrial takeoff in China coincided with a jump in the use of coal. China is still building coal plants at a furious clip. The Institute for Energy Research notes that it has plans to add more than the current U.S. coal-fired capacity on top of its already prodigious use of coal, which accounts for more than half of the world’s total.

The Biden plan is an assault on American ingenuity and wealth, not to mention common sense. At least after last week, no one can say he wasn’t warned.

© 2020 by King Features Syndicate

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