U.S. Has Come Too Far For a Retreat on Natural Gas and Oil
Posted October 26, 2020
Vice President Joe Biden’s statements on fracking and energy during the final presidential debate raise questions about the former vice president’s overall understanding of issues that are so critical to the U.S. economy, security and the environment.
We’ve previously noted Biden’s various comments on fracking – he has said he would ban the technology that made the U.S. the world No. 1 in natural gas and oil production (see here and here), before vowing he wouldn’t ban it. He repeated the no-ban pledge in Nashville (after asserting he never said he opposed fracking).
More problematic is another promise Biden repeated during the final presidential debate – that he’ll ban new federal natural gas and oil leasing, effectively halting new production on federal lands and waters. A recent analysis projected this would eliminate nearly 1 million U.S. jobs by 2022, that American consumers could spend a cumulative $19 billion more on energy by 2030, and that U.S. GDP could decline by a cumulative $700 billion by 2030.
Biden wasn’t done. He said he would transition the country away from natural gas and oil:
“By the way, I would transition from the oil industry, yes. I would transition. … [I]t has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time, and I’d stop giving to the oil industry, I’d stop giving them federal subsidies. … [T]he point is, look, we have to move toward net zero emissions. The first place to do that by the year 2035 is in energy production, by 2050 totally.”
His energy plan calls for 100% clean energy by 2035, so that adds up to a 15-year transition.
Then, after the debate, Biden walked things back:
“We’re not getting rid of fossil fuels. … [W]e’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time.”
The pattern of inconsistency from Biden is especially worrisome, involving the United States’ leading sources of energy, natural gas and oil. His debate comments grabbed the attention of a number of Democrats in energy-producing states. U.S. Rep Xochitl Torres Small:
I disagree with VP Biden's statement tonight. Energy is part of the backbone of New Mexico’s economy. We need to work together to promote responsible energy production and stop climate change, not demonize a single industry. 1/2— Xochitl Torres Small (@XochforCongress) October 23, 2020
And U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma:
Here’s one of the places Biden and I disagree. We must stand up for our oil and gas industry. We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s consumer friendly, values energy independence, and protects OK jobs. …
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas and oil accounted for nearly 70% of U.S. energy use in 2019 and will continue to be the leading fuel sources for decades to come:
Natural gas and oil drive the economy, fortify our security and help protect the environment. Indeed, increased use of affordable, reliable natural gas – modern fracking is responsible for its abundance – is the No. 1 reason U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest levels in a generation, as well as the reason the U.S. leads the world in reducing CO2 emissions since 2000.
As for a carbon-free power sector by 2035, let’s note that California’s clean energy transition has been underway for longer than 15 years, yet the state has had recent troubles keeping the lights on. For perspective, Boston’s “Big Dig” highway/tunnel megaproject took 16 years, a year longer than the vice president’s plan allows for overhauling the entire nation’s power supply. The bottom line is Americans cannot be blamed for being dubious about proposals that would make the U.S. electricity supply look like California’s.
Our industry brings affordable, dependable energy to American homes, businesses and the vast transportation sector every day, rain or shine. Fracking, which unlocked shale reserves, created an American energy revolution that ended an era of scarcity and energy uncertainty and launched a new era of security and opportunity – coveted by every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter in 1979. As a country we’ve come too far, gained too much, to now fall back in retreat.
Our industry will keep working for the American people. API President and CEO Mike Sommers:
“Democrats, Republicans and Independents know that the U.S. natural gas and oil industry delivers affordable and reliable energy to American families and businesses and all over the world. We are proud of the grit, innovation and progress we've made so that Americans no longer have to choose between environmental progress and access to affordable, reliable and cleaner energy. And we aren’t going anywhere.”
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.