NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Opinion: Biden's continued blitz against fossil fuels

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden

The climate plan forwarded last year by candidate Joe Biden made clear that fossil fuels would be in his crosshairs. Even so, Biden’s blitz against the industry in his first eight days as president is striking, and concerning.

Within hours of his swearing-in on Jan. 20, Biden pulled the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline — a move that, understandably, angered our neighbors in Canada and will send thousands of U.S. blue-collar workers to the unemployment line.On Wednesday, Biden announced a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters.“We’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis,” Biden said at the signing ceremony. “We can’t wait any longer."

The American Petroleum Institute has estimated an outright ban would cost more than 100,000 jobs in the next year or so. “If you work in fossil fuels,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerard Baker wrote this week, “aren’t you grateful that your imminent joblessness is bringing the country together?”

These moves by the new administration are bringing environmentalists together in songs of praise for Biden, who after winning the Democratic nomination turned his proposed climate plan over to those groups, Bernie Sanders and other progressives. The result: a blueprint that would, within 15 years, stop the use of coal and natural gas to generate electricity, and seeks net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050.

According to news reports, the aim of the Biden moratorium is to allow time for a review of the impact of oil and gas drilling on the environment and climate. Any guesses as to how that will turn out?

It's notable that in a Pew survey of voter priorities in August, climate change ranked 11th out of 12, well behind the economy, health care and the coronavirus. Yet here we are.

Indeed, the president of the Western Energy Alliance, Kathleen Sgamma, said Biden’s new executive order seeks eventually to make drilling on federal lands no longer viable. At the American Exploration and Production Council, which represents U.S. oil companies, chief executive Anne Bradbury said the "scope and the lack of consultation with industry stakeholders has been alarming."

Brook Simmons, president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, said it well in describing Biden’s actions as “just the start.”

“Meanwhile, the laws of physics, chemistry and supply and demand remain in effect,” Simmons said. “Oil and natural gas prices are going up, and so will home heating bills, consumer prices and fuel costs.”

Biden also issued a memorandum that elevates climate change to a national security priority. What ought to be a national security priority is keeping the United States energy independent and not beholden to foreign nations, some of them bad actors. This country achieved energy independence a few years ago thanks to the hydraulic fracturing revolution, but at this rate, it won’t be long before the scales tip back in the other direction. That's a bad idea.

Owen Canfield III

Owen Canfield has written editorials for The Oklahoman since 2003. Prior to that, he spent 19 years with The Associated Press in Oklahoma City. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife, Lori, have four children. Read more ›