Joe Biden faces some dangerous scenarios in global energy affairs.
There is a view that suggests that now that Joe Biden has (most likely) won the US presidential election, a modicum of pragmatism will prevail as the Democrats’ excessive campaign promises face the cold light of day and as the real costs of policy decisions become apparent. Furthermore, one would have to note that there are limits as to what even a US Presidency – the world’s most powerful executive office — can do within constitutional limits. There is the likelihood that the US Senate will remain Republican and hence provide a check on the more extreme pledges made in the name of ‘net zero’ emissions in the power sector by 2035 and in the entire economy by 2050.
Energy Policy Discontinuities
But don’t be lulled by soothing thoughts of policy continuity under a Biden-Harris administration. The contrast in Republican and Democratic world-views of fossil fuels and global energy geopolitics could not be more stark. And nowhere are the costs as extravagant as in the promises made regarding the Green New Deal. The adverse impacts on US domestic affairs will be as profound as they will be on the global stage. The policy discontinuity expected to take place in the oil and gas sectors under a Biden administration is about as radical as one can contemplate in US and global affairs.
The Biden Plan for a “100% clean energy economy [which] reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050” will require his administration to sign in its own words “a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track”. The 4-year, $1.7 trillion Biden plan – reflecting an even more aggressive “climate crisis” action plan set out by the House Democrats — includes banning fracking in federal lands and waters, denying federal permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and ensuring 100% clean renewable energy by 2035 in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation.
Joe Biden flip-flopped during the campaign trial over his proposed ban on fracking, depending on whether his audience was in an oil and gas-producing state like Pennsylvania or in environmentally-obsessed California. But, as President, ‘where the buck stops’, Biden will have to handle, for example, the situation in New Mexico where Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has repeatedly tried to reassure constituents of her support for the state’s mainstay oil and natural gas industry.
Will a Democrat-run New Mexico – which depends heavily on oil and gas production on federal lands — be somehow “exempted” from the anti-fracking ban in federal lands of a Biden administration? Or will the oil and gas workers in that state be sacrificial lambs for the global climate cause? An analysis by the state’s oil and gas association projects New Mexico to be among the states potentially hardest hit by a Biden presidency, losing over 62,000 jobs by 2022.