With US Election Looming, Whither Fracking?
Fracking has become a hot-button issue on the Left, and for a number of reasons. For one thing, it's good for the American economy, so right off the bat it's bad. For another, it has something to do with icky fossil fuel extraction -- a messy business involving melted dinosaur juice that no right-thinking Harvard grad would want to get involved with. For another, it's the brutal rape of almost virginal Mother Gaia; if there's one thing the Left embraces wholeheartedly it's the pathetic fallacy, which attributes human emotions to inanimate or insentient objects.
The Democrats, naturally, object to fracking because all of the above, and reasons. As with everything they despise, they want to ban it, outlaw it, forbid it, demolish it, and destroy it. For your own good, of course.
The senile cardboard cutout once known as former vice president Joe Biden says he doesn't want to ban fracking -- a sure-loser proposition in his birth state of Pennsylvania and a state he must win in November to have a chance of unseating Trump. Especially, as the coronavirus lockdown hoax passes, with the economy bouncing back sharply. But the ideological, sentimental crazies in his party (e.g. everybody else) don't want to hear talk like that. Over at Real Clear Markets, Steve Milloy has the story:
Fracking is a key issue in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan where hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs depend the largely state-governed process of producing oil from shale rock formations.
During the primary campaign, Biden flip-flopped back and forth on banning fracking, finally alighting on an intermediary position where he wouldn’t ban fracking outright but would act to limit it on federally-owned lands. After Biden had cemented the nomination, the firebrand [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez was named as a climate advisor and installed on the Democratic National Committee’s climate advisory panel.
In early June, the DNC Environment and Climate Crisis Council issued a report that called for “legislation permanently banning fracking and enhanced oil recovery and initiate a managed phaseout of existing operations.” The purpose of the report is to “recommend a sweeping set of policies for inclusion in the new four-year 2020 Democratic Party platform, which will be approved at the August convention.”
While it is not uncommon for presidential candidates and their party platforms to often diverge, is the fracking fracture between Biden and the Democratic Council more significant? Of course it is.
Read Milloy's piece in its entirety, which goes on to argue that the feeble, demented Biden will be a pushover for the radicals. But that gives Trump an opening, not only in places like Pennsylvania (the keystone to winning the election; if Trump loses Penn., it's over), but also Ohio, Michigan, Indiana -- all of which Trump won in 2016. The big prize of New York State, even in its declining dotage, could also be put into play. Thug governor Andrew Cuomo has banned it in his state, but long-suffering western New York and the Southern Tier would welcome it. Biden may think he's got NYS in the bag, but even a strong feint by the Trump campaign in the direction of Rochester, Buffalo, and Elmira could force Biden to play defense.
Biden may deny he would ban fracking. But the question for voters should be, would it really be up to him? Panicked Democrats are now trying to back away from the DNC report calling for the fracking ban. A “senior Democrat familiar with the DNC’s workings” said to Reuters of the recommended fracking ban, “It’s a nonstarter.” About the Ocasio-Cortez-led DNC climate panel, the understandably anonymous source said, “Nobody takes them seriously.”
That will be disconcerting news to the likes of Ocasio-Cortez and all the Bernie Sanders supporters who, as it is, already have to hold their noses and vote for Biden.
If he cares about his country at all, Biden has a chance to put down the AOC rebellion and do the right thing. But of course he won't.
Prediction of Economic Recovery Terrifies Dems
It looks like we're getting to the other side of this pandemic, with lock-down orders easing up and restrictions on everyday activities being lifted, with and without masks. One sign that things are returning to normal is that people's minds are turning away from daily case numbers and towards the election in the fall. To that end, Jason Furman, a Harvard professor and one of Barack Obama's senior economic advisors, gave a presentation to the Democratic party's top strategists a few weeks ago, and what he had to say absolutely shocked them:
“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country," he said.... “Everyone looked puzzled and thought I had misspoken,” Furman said in an interview. Instead of forecasting a prolonged Depression-level economic catastrophe, Furman laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever....
Furman’s counterintuitive pitch has caused some Democrats, especially Obama alumni, around Washington to panic. “This is my big worry,” said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, “It’s high — high, high, high, high.”
Maybe I've missed something, but the above sounds to me like.... good news. But I suppose that's because I'm not running for president with the hopes of hanging a new Great Depression on the incumbent.
Furman stressed that he was speaking “in gross terms, not in net terms,” which is to say that the "V shaped" recovery he was predicting wouldn't leave us better off than we were before the pandemic. The economy would look great compared to the depths of the April and May, but we would still be in rough shape. This, of course, is a difficult message to boil down into a campaign slogan or a meme, which is why the Dems are so anxious about it.
At the same time, it should serve as a rallying cry for the Right. Just a few months ago, when we were riding an incredible economic wave with low taxes and low unemployment, the Democrats were arguing that we should be willing to risk our prosperity on their ideological program. Here's Jim Geraghty on that point:
Back during one of the debates, Tim Alberta of Politico asked Biden, “As president, would you be willing to sacrifice some of that growth, even knowing potentially that it could displace thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy?” Biden responded, “The answer is yes. The answer is yes, because the opportunity — the opportunity for those workers to transition to high-paying jobs, as Tom said, is real.”
Biden pledged “no new fracking” during a debate, then walked it back; he wants to set a price on carbon to be used for either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade; Biden endorsed California’s AB5, the anti-“gig” law; he would raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, and he insists he can raise taxes by $4 trillion over the next decade, without raising taxes on anyone making $400,000 per year or less.
If the economy is heading in the right direction in the fall -- if jobs are coming back and the stock market is up -- but hasn't quite recovered, should we really trust Joe Biden to prioritize getting us back where we need to be, rather than handing over his domestic policy to the Green Blob? His recent pledge to kill the Keystone XL pipeline if he's elected doesn't inspire confidence.
Jason Kenney's Diplomatic Response to Biden
Last week I wrote about the ridiculous pledge from Joe Biden's campaign to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project should Joe succeed in his bid to become the 46th President of these United States. Well, the following day Biden came out of his Delaware basement, saw his shadow, and magnanimously allowed reporters to ask him a few questions. One of those questions was about his Keystone pledge, and here is what the former veep had to say:
“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tarsands that we don’t need — that in fact is very, very high pollutant,” Biden said in an interview with CNBC. Biden said he wouldn’t want to stop all oil projects immediately, but vowed to transition the U.S. “gradually… to a clean economy.” He said Keystone “does not economically, nor, in my view, environmentally, make any sense.”
In my post I mentioned how bizarre it is that Biden would endanger all the jobs that Keystone XL has and will continue to provide in two countries, while also antagonizing Canada, a key ally and major (and increasingly important) trading partner. Well, in his reply to Biden's comments Alberta Premier Jason Kenney hit a lot of the same notes, while having the diplomatic sense to suggest that the issue might not be Biden's stupidity as much as that he has been poorly served by his advisors:
The comments made by [former U.S.] vice-president Biden suggest that he hasn’t been well or accurately briefed on the dependence of the American economy on Canadian energy exports,” Kenney said. “It’s a hugely important strategic development for the United States that North America is now energy independent — no longer dependent on imports from OPEC dictatorships like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.... The Keystone pipeline... delivers about 600,000 barrels a day of heavy Alberta crude to refineries primarily in the Midwest in Illinois. So, a whole lot of jobs and the economy in the American Midwest are dependent on that supply of energy through the Keystone pipeline.
We would hope to have a chance to ensure Mr. Biden was aware of these facts and also aware that the building trades union, the construction unions, the steelworkers unions — which are traditional supporters of Mr. Biden’s party — are strongly in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, which has already crossed the border, which is creating thousands of jobs on both sides of the border and which will ensure that the United States is no longer dependent on OPEC crude,” Kenney said.
The premier went on to point out that Biden's claim that the claim that the project is not economically viable doesn't stand up to scrutiny since Keystone "has been operating for 10 years, profitably and successfully, both for the refineries, American consumers and Canadian producers," and that his claim that it is environmentally unsound doesn't make a lot of sense since the alternative to the pipeline is oil being transported by rail which itself leads to greater carbon emissions. It isn't like people are going to stop using energy. much as the Luddite Left might wish otherwise.
Kenney would have been in his rights to drop the mic after this thorough dismantling of the former vice president, and maybe put videos of it up on all of his social media accounts, followed by a sufficiently antagonistic gif, like so:
But interfering in the politics of another country -- especially an ally -- is bad form, and of course it's possible that Kenney will have to work with (God help us) President Biden one of these days. Should that day arrive, perhaps Biden should take some diplomacy lessons from Alberta's premier.
Of course it would be even better if he learned a thing or two about major sectors of our economy before he decides to destroy them.
Biden Vows to Kill Keystone XL if Elected
Back before he went into hiding, Joe Biden was notorious for making confusing statements which his spokesmen had to "clarify" later, while pretending that they'd been distorted by conservative media. Not that he's actually stopped doing this since the DNC began using the lockdowns as a pretense for hiding him in his basement in Delaware (a tactic which seems to be working for them at the moment, but which they can't keep up through November). While criticizing Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden told ABC News a few weeks ago, "We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse, no matter what. No matter what. We know what has to be done." Uh, sure Grandpa.
But there was nothing confusing about the statement put out by the Biden campaign (of course not delivered by the candidate himself) vowing to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline project should he be elected president next November.
“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as President and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit,” Biden campaign policy director Stef Feldman said in a written statement to POLITICO.
In case you've forgotten, Keystone XL is a project of the Canadian oil firm TC Energy, the object of which is to safely transport Canadian crude from Alberta down to refineries in the U.S. It is, in fact, the fourth Keystone pipeline, and when completed it will be able to transport more oil (because it is larger) more quickly (because it travels a less circuitous route) than the already operational other three. Unfortunately for TC Energy, stopping Keystone XL became a cause célèbre for the Left during Barack Obama's presidency, and so the Obama Administration slow-walked the permit process for years until officially rejecting it after six years of review. Donald Trump breathed new life into the project after his election, but it has remained in legal limbo throughout the course of his first term.
Just a few thoughts on his announcement:
- Part of Biden's appeal is that he's supposedly this scrappy, working class, down-to-earth, Irish Catholic guy from Scranton, Pa., son of a used car salesman, yadda yadda yadda. But here he is, during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, promising to kill steady, hardworking jobs (in two countries!) because it'll make well-connected environmentalists happy?
- Even Democrats are starting to acknowledge that the former Vice President isn't all there. Even if it were true that his instincts are more geared towards the working man than the wine-and-caviar set that Hillary Clinton appealed to, this kind of announcement should give you a sense of who will actually be doing the governing while President Biden retreats further into his dotage.
- Keystone XL is popular in Canada, so much so that the then-newly elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a self-proclaimed environmentalist, felt compelled to object when Obama originally killed the project. Canada is our second largest trading partner, and our largest -- China -- is increasingly unpopular in the U.S., for obvious reasons, so much so that calls for our relationship with that nation to be drastically reevaluated are coming in hot and heavy. Would it really be wise for Biden -- whose foreign policy experience supposedly got him the nod as Obama's veep -- to antagonize an ally in such an environment?
Then again, former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously said that Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." As his Keystone XL announcement demonstrates, his domestic and trade policy instincts are just as reliable.
Biden Spokesman: Ignore Joe on Fracking
Joe Biden's campaign team are furious about the outrageous distortions coming from Republicans about his position on fracking. And how could they not be, when prominent Republicans such as RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel are out there tweeting outrageous falsehoods like: "There are 7.3M Americans whose jobs depend on fracking. Biden and Bernie would eliminate them."
Unbelievable! I mean, when Bernie Sanders said he wanted to stop “fracking as soon as we possibly can,” and that he was “talking about telling the fossil fuel industry that they are going to stop destroying this planet—no ifs, buts and maybes about it” in the debate the other night, Biden replied "So am I!" His position is as clear as the noonday sun! Oh, or, er, maybe not so much...
A quick look at Biden's website's climate section isn't much of a help either -- lots of stuff about how "the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face" and how Uncle Joe will ensure that "the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050" -- when the 77-year-old Biden will be long dead. Nothing, however, about fracking. Luckily his trusty spokesmen were available to clear things up:
A spokesman for Mr. Biden’s campaign clarified that the former vice president wouldn’t ban fracking, which is now commonly used to produce natural gas and oil in key states with blue-collar voters like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado. He was referring only to his stated policy to ban new permits for oil and gas drilling on federal land and offshore, the spokesman added.
Thanks! Maybe that guy should be running for president...
Which isn't to say it is a policy that makes any sense. In fact, it sounds like a policy cooked up entirely by campaign spokesmen, who are terrified of the environmentalist death cult that wields so much power in the media and in the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself), yet also knows that hydraulic fracturing employs lots of working-class men and women in the Rust Belt who are ready and willing to vote against candidates of either party who don't have their economic and social interests at heart.
Those are the voters who got Trump over the finish line in 2016 in several important states, and who Team Biden is hoping will give him a good long look as long as he doesn't say anything too stupid, like that he's planning to wipe out their jobs in the first year of his presidency. Which doesn't mean he wouldn't -- once he's in, he can relax and let his aides govern the country however his handlers see fit. Or, if he lives that long, his potential vice president.
It's also idiotic because aside from employing a great many people in states that need the jobs, fracking has also done exactly what lefties are always promising us that wind and solar power will do. From a recent report from the International Energy Agency entitled Global CO2 emissions in 2019:
The United States saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis – a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period. A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019. Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels. As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%.
Which is to say that banning fracking would be bad for the environment, because it would mean burning more coal. And banning the expansion of fracking would be relatively bad for the environment because it would prevent clean natural gas from replacing coal as a reliable and low-carbon energy source.
So maybe Joe's campaign team should think a little harder on this topic. And then maybe they can tattoo the results on the palm of their candidate's hand so he can refer to them whenever the topic comes up.