NOLAN FINLEY

Finley: Biden fails critical climate test

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

The embarrassing spectacle of President Joe Biden begging Russia and OPEC to pump more oil is what happens when political reality crashes into political posturing.

Last week opened with the dire news from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global warming has reached a "code red for humanity," and it may be too late to spare the planet from its catastrophic effects.

This could have been a golden opportunity for the man who has presented himself as the Green President. Joe Biden could have proven himself to be the leader he purports to be on climate change, to rally the nation to the sacrifice that will be required to, in his own words, save the planet.

President Joe Biden finally looked up and noticed the signs above America's gasoline pumps, Finley writes.

But Biden is a man of politics, not principle.

Just a week after pledging the nation to a frantic pace for transitioning to an all-electric vehicle fleet, Biden did a triple back flip on his global warming agenda. The man who nixed the Keystone XL petroleum pipeline and placed giant swaths of the country off-limits to oil and gas exploration, finally looked up and noticed the signs above America's gasoline pumps.

The price of gasoline is soaring, hitting household budgets hard.

Electricity costs are also predicted to be as much as 17% higher in Michigan this year. Natural gas bills are following the sharply upward trend.

Higher energy costs are impacting the cost of a wide array of goods and services, helping fuel inflation that is pacing above 5%. That presents a real threat to America's economic recovery. An economic turndown could destroy Biden's fellow Democrats in next year's mid-term election.

So by the end of the week Biden had cried uncle. Or more accurately, called Uncle Vlad and the Middle Eastern oil sheiks pleading for another oil fix.  

Just a year ago, the United States had finally began exporting more petroleum than it was importing, the definition of long-sought energy independence. 

Since then, domestic oil production has dropped to 11 billion barrels a day, from a record 12.2 billion bpd in 2019. Meanwhile, a surging recovery is driving higher demand for oil and gas.

Instead of asking for more U.S. output, which would have helped workers in states such as Texas and South Dakota, Biden turned to Russia and OPEC, as if the climate will notice where the oil America burns comes from.

This was a critical test for Biden, who has been leading the chorus demanding we "do something" about climate change. The president failed it.

Doing something will inevitably mean doing without. We can't wean ourselves from fossil fuel and still have cheap, plentiful energy. At least not today.

Rising energy prices serve perfectly the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions because they drive down demand for energy and petroleum based goods. 

That's what doing something about climate change looks like, and what it will take to reach the goals Biden and the Green New Dealers have set.

But when he faced the defining moment, the opportunity to truly set America on a new course and call its people to the sacrifice required to stay on it, Biden wobbled.

He didn't have the courage to tell the truth — combating global warming will be painful and expensive, for everyone. 

Biden wasn't willing to pay the political price. He shouldn't be surprised when Americans balk at paying the personal price. 

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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