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Biden’s plea to OPEC+ undermines his own climate policies

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Biden’s plea to OPEC+ undermines his own climate policies

In an ironic turn of events, the Biden administration called on OPEC+ to pump more oil into the market, citing concerns over higher gasoline prices and the need for Americans to have access to “affordable and reliable energy, including at the pump.” However, this statement stands in stark contrast to the bold and aggressive climate policies the administration has been implementing.

Last year, amid economic lockdowns and plunging oil demand, OPEC+ made the unprecedented decision to remove nearly 10 million barrels of oil per day from the market to support oil prices. These supply cuts, coupled with growing oil demand, have resulted in skyrocketing oil prices. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is up 40 per cent this year and now sits at 14 per cent above its 2019 peak, which is pushing gasoline prices higher.

Again, to tackle rising gasoline prices, President Biden seems to have disregarded his own domestic climate agenda and called OPEC+ to produce more oil.

Consider that climate policy has a been a central focus of the Biden administration. During the 2020 election campaign, Biden explicitly stated his desire to “transition away from the oil industry.” On his first day in office, he immediately rejoined the Paris agreement, placed a temporary ban on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic, and revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought 830,000 barrels per day of Albertan oil to the United States.

In addition, President Biden pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, have a carbon-free electricity system by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050. And he recently signed an executive order that set a goal of 50 per cent of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles including battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicles.

And that’s not all. The administration has banned oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, a measure currently being challenged in the courts by several energy-producing states. The goal of many of Biden’s climate policies is to make fossil-fuelled energy products including gasoline more expensive to discourage their consumption and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The irony here is obvious and incredible—President Biden is asking OPEC+ countries to produce more oil while his own policies limit U.S. oil and gas production.

In reality, higher oil and gas prices are the inevitable outcome of aggressive climate policies. You can’t implement policies that discourage fossil fuel production while demand continues to rise, then complain about rising energy prices.

But as is so often the case with climate change policies, people are supportive until they actually face the costs. Now that Americans are complaining—and loudly—about rising prices at the pump, the Biden administration is back-peddling by encouraging foreign producers to expand oil production rather than admitting the folly of its original policies and introducing more balanced energy policies.

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