It’s perfectly understandable for anyone concerned about energy production in the U.S. to be uneasy that Joe Biden appears to be winning this year’s contest for the White House. Whether he makes it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. remains in doubt, but what is not in doubt is that, should that happen, he would have no substantial mandate.
The climate change part of the platform--like much of his party’s platform--seems to have little purchase among other than the coastal bien pensants and the leftwing corporatists dreaming of yet another boondoggle financed by the taxpayers on the same pie in the sky swindle as was Solyndra and California’s train to nowhere. Of course, my ability to read the future is limited, but let me explain why I think much of what Biden has promised the far left of his party to secure the nomination and their support, is unlikely to take shape.
At the moment the election in six states is still either still being counted, being challenged in court, or subject to recount. Excluding those states, President Trump leads Biden 232 to 227 in the Electoral Vote totals. (270 electoral votes of 538 are needed to win the electoral college vote in January).
It is impossible in this fast changing circumstance to keep track of all the litigation challenging in the various state run elections. So far this compendium by OSU seems the most accurate. I’ve seen some of the complaints filed or about to be in Michigan and Pennsylvania and they include numerous credible affidavits documenting substantial illegality. If the Supreme Court meant it when they said this twenty years ago in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 105 (2000), I have to believe that the counts in both those states simply to not meet the constitutional standard in Gore.
It must be remembered that "the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen's vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise." Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 555 (1964).
If these recounts and challenges are not resolved by the December 14 cut off dat-, the House of Representatives can choose the interim president and the Senate the interim vice president until they results are certified by the states. In the House, the vote is by state and the Republicans hold the majority there, as they do in the Senate. If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the state legislatures, they may under the constitution select their own slate of electors. Republicans hold the majority in the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan, the three states with the most electoral votes among the still disputed contests.
Given the uncertain outcomes, at this time it is preposterous to call Biden “president-elect.”
Nevertheless, there certainly is reason for concern in the Democratic platform Biden ran on. The platform reads like a prose version of the Russian film “Battleship Potemkin” substituting only the film’s motif of all forces of the population joining hands in revolution with everyone joining hands to keep the climate from changing. (It misses only scenes of fracking and gas rigs shooting at wounded veterans and orphans.) Among the specifics are these:
- A pledge to achieve "zero-net greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.”
- Eliminating “carbon pollution from power plants through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency.
- “Dramatically” expanding solar and wind energy deployment.”
The program specifics are even more sophomoric and fanciful, involving retrofitting buildings, setting even higher emissions standards for cars and trucks, including 500,000 school buses, and more in a program “to ensure racial and socioeconomic equity in federal climate, energy, and infrastructure programs.”
(My guess is this was written somewhere else besides California which the document says should again be allowed to set its own vehicle emission standards. I say that because rolling blackouts related to a similar set of juvenile energy policies in that state’s programs would seem to put something of a leash on these overweening goals.)
Biden also has pledged to kill the Keystone pipeline. On that score, Alberta Premier Jason Kennery indicates confidence he can change Biden’s mind, and perhaps he would be successful -- pledges from Biden do seem to have a short life span. He promised during the debates that he would not claim victory until all the state contests were certified. He already has done so when we are far from that point.
He’s also promised to crack down on “climate cheats” whoever they are; push the world on climate change, and invest $1.7 trillion to reduce global warming. At the same time his team is advocating further coronavirus lockdowns and payouts to those unemployed because of them.
Now I could be wrong. He could have a secret invention to generate trillions of new dollars and is keeping it secret along with a never-revealed way to fuel this economy without fossil fuels, but I’m suspicious of the ability to fund these grandiose plans or carry the platform’s promises out.
Even if he were crazy enough to try it, he will do so without a great deal of support. At the moment the Democrats are hanging on to an even thinner majority in the House, having lost a number of seats they expected to win, and jeopardized more who in these weird times are labeled “moderates”.
The party is splintered and recriminations against the left are legion. It seems increasingly likely that the Blue Wave the media promised didn’t materialize and in fact a Red Wave washed a lot of the Democrats out to sea. There will be at least 50 Republican Senators in the Senate with the likely prospect of two more once the Georgia runoffs are complete in January.
Without a majority in the Senate Biden can’t revoke the industry-friendly fuel tax; he can’t restore or expand the federal tax credit for purchases of electric vehicles, he can’t repeal the Halliburton provision permitting fracking in Safe Drinking Water Act he can’t amend the renewable fuel standard post-2022, he can’t alter the Jones Act, and he can’t change the the carbon price, etc.
Some have suggested he can achieve these goals simply through executive orders, and there are a few things he can achieve via this route, beginning with an area in which he has the freest hand -- rejoining the Paris climate agreement. Some of the others, more troublesome to be sure, are regulatory actions like blocking oil and gas drilling on federal lands, allowing California to set independent standards for auto emissions and fuel economy, restricting access to low-cost capital for the fossil fuel industry, and setting fuel economy standards. For these, judicial and public resistance are greater checks on his authority.
Chief Justice Roberts has displayed a penchant for fine-tooth-combing executive orders and rejecting them . The public -- reeling from the devastation of the lockdowns, pleased with lower gas prices and anticipating a continued v- shaped recovery -- are likely to find Biden's extremism unwanted and make their opposition known.
Biden may squeak out an election victory. If so, it will have been a Pyrrhic one.