Source: Hot Air
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but perhaps also the mother of clarity. How else to explain this sudden scolding of the Green New Deal progressives that the New York Times and Thomas Friedman has assiduously courted over decades? Friedman himself notes that he has used his column for 27 years to push for an end to fossil fuels and adoption of an energy system of entirely clean sources.
But now? Friedman finds his patience exhausted with his longtime allies, who want to end fossil fuel use before alternatives can meet the demand. The lack of appreciation for the geopolitical truth of energy among progressives is apparently Friedman’s final straw:
I can’t repeat this enough: U.S. energy policy today has to be the arsenal of democracy to defeat petro-Putinism in Europe, by providing desperately needed oil and gas to our allies at reasonable prices so that Putin cannot blackmail them. It has to be the engine of economic growth that provides the cleanest and most affordable fossil fuel energy as we transition to a low-carbon economy. And it has to be the vanguard for scaling renewables to get the world to that low-carbon future as fast as we can.
Any policy that doesn’t maximize all three will leave us less healthy, less prosperous and less secure.
In other words … drill baby drill — if not for our sake, then for world peace. Literally.
This is precisely the point I have been making since Joe Biden first took office. He inherited an oil and gas industry that could impact world prices and therefore had strategic impact on global security. Our ability to keep prices low organically through large-scale exports of oil and gas kept windfall profits out of the pockets of Vladimir Putin and the Iranian mullahs, as well as Nicolas Maduro. That also kept domestic prices low enough to generate economic growth without inflation.
Rather than take advantage of that in precisely the manner Friedman prescribes here, Biden threw it away. He pandered to his allies, and Friedman’s, by imposing all sorts of obstacles and extra costs on exploration and extraction. That ended our strategic influence over oil markets and stuffed billions of dollars into Putin’s war plans. And now, even after that has become so plain as to have Thomas Friedman lecture about strategic value and leverage, Biden and the progressives refuse to budge an inch.
Along the way, Friedman scolds both parties — Democrats for blocking the “Energy Triad,” and Republicans for refusing to vote for the scummy side deal Chuck Schumer cut with Joe Manchin to get the reconciliation bill passed. To call this a reach is to understate muscle tears:
So, oil company lobbyists have asked Republican lawmakers to compensate for the progressive naysayers and vote for the legislation. But the G.O.P. has told the oil companies to take a hike. Republican lawmakers won’t do anything to create another success for Biden.
I don’t know who’s more irresponsible: the moral-preening progressives who want an overnight immaculate green revolution, with solar panels and wind farms but no new transmission lines or pipelines, or the cynical, phony tough-guy Republicans, who’d rather see Putin win and our energy companies lose than do right for America and Ukraine by agreeing with Biden.
Let me help Friedman out on this question. The side that has blocked oil and gas production and campaigned openly to kill that industry in the next decade is the “more irresponsible” side. The Republicans who are refusing to play along with that policy are the side that actually wants a responsible energy policy, not some cover-your-ass side deal that does little for the long term but lets Democrats off the hook in the short term. Republicans want a real negotiation and a coherent energy policy, and they want to force Biden and Democrats to formulate it.
For the most part, though, Friedman’s on point:
Despite all the wind and solar investments in the past five years, fossil fuels — oil, gas and coal — still accounted for 82 percent of total world primary energy use in 2021 (required for things like heating, transportation and electricity generation), down only three percentage points in those five years. In America alone in 2021, about 61 percent of electricity generation was from fossil fuels (primarily coal and natural gas) while about 19 percent was from nuclear energy and about 20 percent was from renewable energy sources. …
For some the choice this winter could be heat or eat. This is forcing their governments to offer massive subsidies, distorting their budgets, in hopes of staving off populist backlashes and pressures to get Ukraine to surrender to Putin — and some are also going back to burning coal.
If we want to get oil and gas prices down to reasonably low levels to power the U.S. economy and, at the same time, help our European allies escape the vice grip of Russia while we all also accelerate clean energy production — call it our “Energy Triad” — we need that transition plan that balances climate security, energy security and economic security.
That would be a fine basis for the formulation of a responsible, coherent energy policy. Perhaps Friedman can spend the next 27 years demanding that from Democrats. The rest of us should choose instead to replace the irresponsible Democrats in this midterm election, and then — if Biden still doesn’t get the hint — replace him in 2024, too.
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