The new feature of Fair Observer FO° Insights gives meaning to current issues.
US President Joe Biden and many Democrats have advocated for a Green New Deal. They seem to mimic Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal that lifted the United States out of the Great Depression. They believe that public investment in green energy and new technologies will fight climate change, create well-paying jobs in the United States, and boost the American economy.
We spoke to editor Christopher Roper Schell, a Capitol Hill veteran who also worked on the Pentagon, to make sense of the Green New Deal in the context of soaring oil and gas prices and the prospect of breakdowns.
Christopher Roper Schell on Joe Biden’s energy policy
(We have edited this transcript slightly for clarity.)
Is clean energy a mirage?
Christopher Roper Schell: It depends on what you mean by clean energy.
If you think wind turbines and solar panels are going to power America’s electric grid, it’s not going to happen.
What we need is baseload electricity, and baseload electricity goes offline primarily because of the economic incentives behind green power in the United States. Interestingly, CO2 has dropped considerably, mainly because natural gas is simply cheaper.
What we’ll have to worry about is making sure we don’t have the blackouts we’re warned about. A semi-regulatory body has issued a warning that up to 2/3 of America could experience outages this summer. This is simply unacceptable to Americans and a green energy future that eventually has blackouts is not going to happen.
How important are high gas and nickel prices?
Christopher Roper Schell: For the Greens, high petrol prices are the problem: they actually want petrol prices to rise. However, the Americans rejected this.
They see what a possible carbon tax would look like, and they don’t like it. The Biden administration has tried to stifle traditional energy sources such as natural gas and oil. In fact, Chevron’s CEO said last week that he never considered another refinery in the United States.
There is clearly a rebellion against high gasoline prices and also against nickel prices. Nickel goes into almost everything green, and the United States doesn’t produce that much of it. There is only one nickel mine in the United States.
And we’re seeing nickel prices hitting highs we haven’t seen in 30 years. America can’t go green without producing lots of cheap nickel, and it’s not happening.
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Is there a supply-side threat from China?
Christopher Roper Schell: Yes there is. China produces four times more rare earths than America. China has six rare earth mining companies. America has a mine.
In terms of solar panels, most US solar panels that are installed come from foreign shores; about 90% in fact.
Interesting story – Auxin Solar is this small American producer of solar panels, and they filed a complaint with the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce began to investigate and the installation of solar panels has completely frozen in this country. Eventually, the Biden administration stepped in and said there would be no new tariffs on imported solar panels to keep the market from collapsing.
So in this scramble for green utopia, the administration decided it was okay to back China and essentially leave its own domestic suppliers dry.
Is the Keystone XL pipeline the answer?
Christopher Roper Schell: No one disputes that Keystone XL would have produced 830,000 barrels of oil per day. It’s a drop in the ocean in terms of global consumption.
The big problem today is that we just need to produce more oil and currently producers are not responding to price signals. Why? Because they were punished.
Last week, Biden said of Exxon, pay your taxes. I didn’t know oil producers had stopped paying taxes, but the president is using all sorts of regulatory methods to deter oil and gas production. Among other things, as I mentioned earlier, it does not hold lease sales. I know it will say there are already a lot of leases going on, but that also means they need permits. And often, the Biden administration has not authorized the permits.
Either way, getting oil from places like the US and Canada through Keystone is better than places like Iran and Venezuela.
Is the Green New Deal dead?
Christopher Roper Schell: Let me put it this way, no politician right now is saying that if you like your new high gas prices, you can keep your new high gas prices.
[There is now no appetite for] a carbon tax. The Green Deal is dead if it ever existed. While people may signal virtue with their post-consumer mug or the wealthy may drive feeling extra fancy in their electric cars, the fact is that most people are unwilling to make the major trade-offs they will have to do for a future Green New Deal type.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.