Behold, the Biden Energy 'Brain Trust'

In an effort to redirect Americans' frustration about the price of gasoline and consumer prices that have hit a four-decade high, President Biden Wednesday sent a letter to seven oil refiners calling on them to produce more gasoline and diesel. It was an attempt by the administration to blame refiners for the economic conditions his energy policy has created. While absurd to suggest that refiners wouldn’t have already thought to increase production, the letter was more a publicity stunt than an earnest attempt to repair the damage his administration's policies have created.

President Biden began his effort to dismantle the oil and gas sector on his very first day in office with the now infamous cancellation of the XL pipeline, even though construction was already underway. By so doing, he single-handedly reduced future oil and gas supply. Had the pipeline been completed, it would have had the capacity to move nearly 830,000 barrels per day to refiners. That decision, so smugly made and celebrated by the administration back in January, 2021 was demonstrative of the cynical energy policy for which the American people are now paying.

So dedicated was the administration back then, to ushering America into the still-undefined "transition to a net-zero [carbon] future," that they neglected to have anyone on their team who had even a modicum of actual oil and gas experience. After all, if one is going to dismantle one system and construct a replacement, one needs the requisite understanding of how the first system functions in order to successfully design its replacement. The administration forgot to give a damn.

Understanding America’s energy sector, and its connection to the broader economy is essential for any administration's success, let alone an administration that exhibits so much hostility toward the oil and gas sector, and by extension toward the American people. Understanding the sector would have informed the leadership that following the environmental policy initiatives of old, white European Socialist bureaucrats was not going to work in America. America’s global dominance has been made possible because of the fossil fuel industry, not in spite of it.

By examining the team that President Biden chose to lead his 'energy transition' and related regulatory initiatives, the seemingly failed strategy begins to look quite different. Far from higher prices and inflation being proof of a failed energy policy, as many on Capitol Hill suggest, it turns out… this is the policy. The market reality with which Americans are living is precisely what the administration intended when President Biden entered office. He repeatedly and infamously described his intentions, promising he would “end” the oil and gas industry.

So fervent is the administration’s belief in the transition to a net zero future, one might mistake it for religious fanaticism. They have been willing to harm the economy and the economic lives of millions of Americans. Though gob-stopping in its darkness, this is the world they envision. This is what they intended all along.

Who are these people? Instead of being confused and frustrated, a review of the crew steering this ship actually brings clarity and understanding:

Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary
While presenting via video feed in May 2021 at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, only months after joining the administration, attendees were aghast at her stunning lack of knowledge about the sector she had been tasked to lead. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she had been the Attorney General of Michigan, and then governor until 2011, with a quick stint as a member of Barrack Obama’s transition team in 2009; she was unsurprisingly ill-suited for an industry-focused position. Between the cancellation of the XL pipeline 90 days prior to her speech, her incorrect use of industry vernacular and her disingenuous assurances that she was on a shared journey with the industry she would be working to dismantle, the audience was left deeply dissatisfied.

When asked Wednesday at what point do gas prices become unsustainable?" Granholm responded, "Yeah, I think the prices are unsustainable… there's not a quick fix. However, your point about also accelerating our progress toward clean energy is very, very important."

Lurching toward renewables with John Kerry.

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
Perhaps best-known for his service in Vietnam, Kerry was also in the U.S. Senate for many years before serving as secretary of state under Barack Obama. Since then he has been jet-setting (via fossil-fuel powered jets) to Davos and other destinations in Europe speaking about the threat of fossil fuel to the planet.

Speaking at an event hosted by the University of Southern California's Center of Public Diplomacy last Friday, Kerry said that energy security concerns are  driving complaints that the U.S. needs to perform more domestic drilling and return to coal. Annoyed, he said that the U.S. "absolutely" does not need to drill for more oil and gas amid inflation and record-high gas prices.

Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor
Rounding off the energy triad is a former Obama-era EPA administrator.  Her role in the Biden administration was seen as a domestic counterpart to John Kerry's job on the international front. According to reports,  McCarthy was described as the chief architect of Obama's climate regulations, overseeing the drafting and passage of limits on what she referred to as, "planet-heating pollution" from power plants, vehicles and fossil fuel producers. Following a stint as a professor at Harvard University, she became the president and chief executive of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She recently defended censorship of news sites that deny "climate change" or other accepted orthodox pieties of the Left:

We have to get tighter, we have to get better at communicating, and frankly, the tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation. That’s what the fossil fuel companies pay for.

Like characters from a Mission Impossible movie, Biden’s energy sector leaders are true villains. They are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. energy sector and wish for a lower quality of life for us that they themselves have no intention of living. The question before the country now is simple: are we going to let them do it?

When Western Governments Help Putin

How does government work? If that’s the old joke rather than a serious question, the punch line goes: “Well, it doesn’t really.” If it’s a serious question, however, the reasons are that there are two governments and that one gets in the way of our seeing the other clearly.

Back in the 19th century, Walter Bagehot, a journalist on the Economist, realized this when he distinguished between two functions of the English government of his day: the “dignified” (the Monarchy, the Courts, etc.) and the “efficient” (the civil service, MPs in Parliament, etc.) The efficient side made and enforced laws and regulations, and the dignified side ensured that the people were overawed by how impressively they were governed. That essential division remains true except that whereas once MPs and Congressmen, presidents and prime ministers, were government workers on the “efficient” side of the table, today they have half-migrated to the “dignified” side of things.

They debate national issues and pass impressive laws on grounds of high principle, which we follow and which sometimes thrill us, but the laws they pass are full of gaps and aspirational hopes where concrete instructions and practical rules should really be. Written in invisible ink are the words: “fill in this passage, director” or “think of something suitable here, judge.”

World's greatest deliberative body in action.

To see how it works and why it’s a bad system, neither dignified nor efficient, consider what is now the most important issue of the day—how energy policy can be intelligently designed to enable us to provide cheap and reliable energy to the populations of Western countries while reducing our reliance on oil and gas from Russia in the aftermath of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

That’s a very big deal.

But look at how the “dignified” side of government has handled this challenge. Former Democrat presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, now President Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate, expressed his serious concern about the crisis, the people of Ukraine, democracy, the principles of international law at stake, and so on. He then went on:

But it [the war in Ukraine] could have a profound negative impact on the climate obviously. You have a war and obviously you’re going to have massive emissions consequences to the war. But equally importantly, you're going to lose people's focus, you're going to lose certainly big country attention because they will be diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact.

He ended by hoping that President Putin would “help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate."

It’s not hard to poke fun at this as if Senator Kerry had made a foolish gaffe—which is probably what most people think. In reality Kerry’s words perfectly express what the West’s political elites have believed until recently and may still believe—that the long-term and uncertain risks of a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees above that of the early industrial period are an urgent threat to the West and the world at least as dangerous (and maybe more so) than Putin’s brutal murder of Ukraine and his assault on peace and international law. We therefore need to continue working with him, however distasteful or strategically unwise that may be. That belief now goes very deep into our societies—particularly among the higher-educated, both intelligentsia and lumpenintelligentsia.

Did someone say lumpenintelligentsia?

That said, there are signs that Putin’s actions have provoked a greater realism among government leaders in the dignified ranks on both sides of the Atlantic. There will at least be serious debates about energy policy, the climate, Western defense, and the links between them in the next few months. If the announcement of massive hikes in defense spending and severe economic sanctions on Russia by German chancellor Olaf Scholz to the Bundestag—described by British prime minister Boris Johnson as a speech of "world-historical' importance—is any guide, realistic changes may be attempted in policy too.

But what effect will those debates or policy changes have on the “efficient” sector of government as it interprets and applies the broad general principles of Kerry’s climate and energy policies in practice? I have a feeling that he has little to fear from their interpretations. The threat of Vladimir Putin will pass smoothly over their heads.

Let me give two examples, one Canadian, one from the U.S.

Under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change must announce a carbon emissions reduction program by the end of March this year. He is currently consulting a universe of “stakeholders,” including Canada’s provincial governments, indigenous peoples, a net-zero advisory group, environmentalist NGOs, etc., etc., on how to achieve various priorities and commitments. These include mandating that fifty percent of cars and pick-up trucks sold in Canada will be zero-emission by 2030 and 100 percent of them by 2035; and placing the same mandate on heavy-duty vehicles by 2040. These mandates will require serious expenditures by government, industry, and private citizens that will be beyond the means of some.

But what stands out to Canadians is the commitment to cap “emissions from the oil and gas sector at current levels and require that they decline at the pace and scale needed to get to net zero by 2050.”

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change demands action!

Canada is the fifth largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world. Canada’s oil and gas industry employs 247,000 people and supports another 150,000 jobs. Its share of the country’s GDP is 6.4 percent. And all of these figures are probably rising because of the increase in the price of fossil fuels on the world market. Unless there is a dramatic scientific breakthrough that enables the industry to capture and store carbon from fossil fuels much more cheaply—and specific innovations cannot simply be conjured up by politicians—there is no way that this commitment can be met without huge and irreparable damage to the oil and gas industry and to Canadian living standards.

As for Canada’s contribution to the West’s need for cheap reliable energy in the darkness of the Russo-Ukraine war, Justin Trudeau risks doing for Putin in Canada what Angela Merkel did for Putin in Europe—namely, making his energy weapon against Ukraine and the West substantially more valuable and thus more threatening.

Now, the U.S. example: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. Last month FERC issued two new regulations that had the effect not of regulating energy transmission but of reducing it by increasing the obstacles to building natural gas infrastructure.

For instance, the FERC expanded its framework of what it takes into account when making infrastructure decisions in order to include broad and ill-defined subjects such as “environmental justice.” In addition to being the kind of cloudy idea that shouldn’t be in any legislation for any reason, such provisions are often inserted by activist congressional aides so that sympathetic agencies or judges can fill them with whatever the bureaucratic Blob wants but can’t get legislators to approve explicitly.

It also seems to be the case that the FERC went beyond its authority by including in a carbon-emission estimate for an infrastructure project those “indirect emissions” from industries upstream and downstream of it over which it has no regulatory authority. If so, not only was that illegitimate, but its would also greatly increase the risks and disincentives for companies and investors interested in the project by making it impossible to estimate costs, profits, or (more likely) losses.

Finally, the FERC announced that it will in future expand the number of those invited to comment on “market need” and future demand for gas to include third parties such as environmental and academic groups. These will undoubtedly include groups and “experts” who see no need or demand anywhere at any time for any fossil fuel, however clean, nor for nuclear, nor anything but “renewables”—and maybe not even them since Michael Moore among others has pointed out the heavy environmental costs of wind turbines when they grow old and rust.

All these devices are tactics in the political game of multiplying obstacles to the development of pipelines and other projects until potential investors and business in general depart in frustration and look for profit in a less hostile environment. It's a much more honest definition of "Greenmail" than the one aimed at corporate takeovers.

That at least was the opinion of one of FERC’s Commissioners, James Danley, who in dissent described the majority decision “contravene[ing] the purpose of the NGA which, as the Supreme Court has held, is to ‘encourage the orderly development of plentiful supplies of natural gas at reasonable prices.’”

Across the Pond, Russian state and industry helped to fund “Green” protest groups that used all these tactics to block the development of energy project in Western Europe which helps explain the continent's current dependence on gas supplies from President Putin.

In Canada and the U.S., we don’t leave helping Vladimir Putin to private enterprise. Government agencies do it for us.

THE COLUMN: 'Events, Dear Boy, Events'

And so, just like that, Covid hysteria has suddenly receded, the manifest limitations of "green energy" have revealed themselves, and "gun control" suddenly doesn't seem so urgent in light of plucky little Ukraine's citizen-soldiers. Inflation is soaring, pocketbook issues are back on the table, and the outbreak of a real shooting war in the Ukraine, in which people are fighting and dying, has suddenly yanked the word "catastrophic" back from the realm of mental illness and into reality. As the late British prime minister Harold Macmillan is supposed to have replied when asked what was his greatest challenge: "Events, dear boy, events."

Amazing what happens when reality bites. The small stuff, the transient concerns, the self-indulgence in lunacy and cultural suicide suddenly slips away, revealing bedrock truths beneath. The prolonged propaganda assault by the national media, led by the unabashedly racialist New York Times, on the traditions and institutions of this country has screeched to a halt as people stare in disbelief at supermarket receipts and gas pump prices and watch the shelling of Kiev on their televisions. Perhaps now words like "assault" and "hostile environment" won't be thrown around with such gay abandon:

So much for the dreaded "assault" rifles, which now seem to have some usefulness after all. Note as well that these "assault" rifles aren't firing themselves, but are instead wielded by responsible adults in an actual hostile environment in defense of their lives, their families, and their homelands—exactly the conditions under which the Congress and the several states ratified the second amendment.

Vladimir Putin's aims have been clear for decades to anyone who knew anything about Russian history. Raised in the Soviet Union, he regarded the collapse of his country as a great tragedy, but he is not trying to restore anything like the U.S.S.R. Rather, his ambition is to reanimate the Rodina of Tsar Alexander, the scourge of Napoleon who also played a large part in the formation of modern Europe at the Congress of Vienna. To that end, he has cemented an alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church—the historic soul and animating spirit of the country—which forms, along with the coterie of gangsters that emerged from the ruins of the KGB, his power base.

He's long had his eyes on Kiev, in many ways the heart of Mother Russia but unfortunately for him occupied by his Slavic cousins, the Ukrainians who, having experienced the Soviet Union, have little desire to re-unite. Like Poland, Ukraine lives in a bad neighborhood between two ugly neighbors, Germany and Russia , one in which the borders keep switching around. But the foolish American notion of pushing the moribund corpse of NATO eastward, into Albania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics has been seen by Putin and the Russians as both a humiliation and a provocation.

"Climate change," too, has been back-benched for a while. Not a peep out of the usual suspects complaining about all the carbon emissions from the land and air power unleashed on the Ukraine by Putin and the sorry shambles of the once-formidable Red Army as their genuine assault on a neighboring sovereign nation has seemed to sputter. But never fear, intrepid eco-warriors such as John "Mr. 16 Weeks in Nam" Kerry, who racked up more medals-per-hour than Audie Murphy, are here to keep the focus where it belongs:

And to think that this man was almost president of the United States. Then again, an even bigger fool currently sits in the Oval Office. Like Kerry, Joe Biden is a lifelong government functionary with no real-world experience but a huge chip on his shoulder over what he perceives as non-recognition of his genius. Biden is that Irish archetype, the braggart on the far barstool mouthing off and trying to provoke the real men of the community into taking a poke at him. The more they ignore him, the angrier he gets. Until reality slaps him in the face.

What is Biden to make, then, of his abysmal approval ratings, his demolition of the American economy in order to satisfy his "green" saboteur/enablers, and his consummate ineptitude at handling the levers of government except signing "executive orders" shoved under this nose by chief of staff Ron Klain. With his first act in office, the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, Biden suddenly threw the booming Trump economy into reverse without even hitting the clutch, causing the engine to conk out. By choking off energy supplies—the lifeblood of the economy—in order to appease the Luddite god of the malevolent Greens, Biden has now been reduced to begging other countries, including Russia, into selling us oil. How's that for diplomacy?

All but the most demented Democrats, however, hate personal privation, so now of course there are calls to restart the pipeline again. Forget the former fretting over the environment and "public health"—the all-purpose excuse for punitive fascism these days. Ah, but how some outfit calling itself the "Natural Resources Defense Council" crowed just thirteen months ago:

The takedown of the notorious Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline will go down as one of this generation’s most monumental environmental victories. After more than 10 years of tenacious protests, drawn-out legal battles, and flip-flopping executive orders spanning three presidential administrations, the Keystone XL pipeline is now gone for good. The project’s corporate backer—the Canadian energy infrastructure company TC Energy—officially abandoned the project in June 2021 following President Joe Biden’s denial of a key permit on his first day in office. But the path to victory wasn’t always clear.

Many had hoped that the disastrous project was finally done for in November 2015, when the Obama administration vetoed the pipeline—acknowledging its pervasive threats to climate, ecosystems, drinking water sources, and public health. But immediately after taking office, President Donald Trump brought the zombie project back to life, along with the legal battles against it. By the time President Biden took office in 2021, ready to fulfill his campaign promise to revoke the cross-border permit, the dirty energy pipeline had become one of the foremost climate controversies of our time.

That was then, this is now:

Friday, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) called on the Biden administration to immediately restart the Keystone XL pipeline project. “President Biden set us on a dangerous path when he decided to kill the Keystone XL pipeline on Day One in office. What’s happening in Russia and Europe is a stark reminder of the need to support American energy development, not hinder it. Energy security is national security, and a global energy dominant America is a safer world. Biden must restart the Keystone XL pipeline now.”

A spokesperson for Montana’s other U.S. senator, Jon Tester (D-Montana), said, “Senator Tester was Montana’s leading champion for the Keystone Pipeline for more than a decade, and he was bitterly disappointed when the project was canceled. Senator Tester will continue to work aggressively to support responsible natural resource development that will create good-paying Montana jobs, secure our energy independence, and defend our national security.”

This push from Daines comes as oil prices jumped to $100 a barrel this week, as tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine.

Which brings us to the latest, highly politicized "thinking" on the Left regarding the prolonged and by now thoroughly tiresome Covid hoax. Via the power of the media, a standard coronavirus (akin to the flu) with a 99 percent survival rate, and which claimed the majority of its victims from the ranks of the elderly and the morbidly obese, was transformed into the Black Death, and unleashed an army of meddlesome, fearful Karens upon the nation. Now that the transparent falsity of the claims the government made for the virus and for the efficacy of the vaccines is beginning to sink in, suddenly the "science" is not so settled after all, and maybe it's time we—you guessed it—declared victory and pulled out.

These are addressed to a man who just two months ago gleefully threatened a winter of "severe illness and death" on the unvaccinated. Instead, predictably, now that Heisenberg has left the building Covid has essentially vanished. But for the past two years, we had the luxury of obsessing about a passing illness that posed almost no danger to most of us, but did hand the government the tools to lock us down, create health passports, restrict the free movement of peoples, and abrogate the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, and religion.

And whaddya know? No more mask mandates on Capitol Hill for Brandon's big State of the Union speech tomorrow night!

The US Capitol's attending physician said Sunday that masks will be optional on Capitol Hill starting Monday, just a day before President Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union address in the House chamber. Citing new guidance from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Brian P. Monahan said in a memo that "individuals may choose to mask at any time, but it is no longer a requirement."

"New guidance." Thanks, but Real Americans have had just about enough of governmental "guidance." A bright shining lie, as I wrote in these pages not long ago. You know they're just itching to do it again, but we need to make one thing perfectly clear: no more "mandates," ever.

Even Saturday Night Live is making fun of them. So you know this prank is running out of steam.

"There is a great deal of ruin in a nation," observed Adam Smith in the 18th century. But how much ruin, exactly? Russia is testing that proposition now, and the United States under Biden is not far behind. Events, dear boy, events.

Biden Administration: 'Actually, Pipelines are Good'

I quoted this the other day, but Kyle Smith's line about how anti-pipeline Joe Biden has been bears repeating. For candidate Biden, "Keystone XL not only was a menace to our American way of life by bringing us energy, Biden thought it had to be cut off before his first afternoon nap." And he did, in fact, kill Keystone on Day 1 as promised.

That's a good fact to remember, since during the Colonial pipeline fiasco at least three officials in the Biden administration have admitted that pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport fuel. H/T to Breitbart for collecting the quotes:

First, "Climate Czar" John Kerry:

Kerry, when asked by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) if it is “true, the pipelines are more carbon-delivery efficient than trains or trucks or other forms of delivery?” Kerry immediately responded and said, “Yeah, that is true.”

Next, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm:

Granholm... admitted Tuesday, “pipe is the best way to go” when transporting fuel, during a press briefing regarding the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

And finally, Transportation Secretary and former McKinsey Globalist... er, sorry, Small Town Mayor/Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Asked whether he agrees with Secretary Granholm's comments that "pipelines are still the best way to move oil,”

Buttigieg responded by saying, “certainly.” He then continued, especially “when you’re talking about the efficiency of moving petroleum products.” “That’s why we have pipelines,” he added after.

Maybe someone should clue in the old man upstairs, after he wakes up from his nap.

John Kerry in La-La-Land

"Climate czar" John Kerry made a particularly tin-eared comment recently which demonstrated how ignorant liberals are about the world outside of their utopian fantasies. Kerry was asked what he would say to oil and gas workers who would "see an end to their livelihoods" should the Biden administration's climate agenda be fully implemented. He responded, "What President Biden wants to do is make sure that those folks have better choices... That they can be the people to go to work to make the solar panels."

This was justly mocked as a modern-day rendering of the apocryphal Marie Antoinette quote, "Let them eat cake." But it's worth noting that there's something more shocking about Kerry's blockheadedness. Does he really not know how ridiculous it is that Green Energy jobs could replace the natural resource ones he wants to disappear?

The U.S. government subsidizes wind and solar power to the tune of $7 billion per year to make it even somewhat competitive with traditional energy sources. Even if the Biden administration doubled that, so-called renewables wouldn't come close to filling the gaping hole left by lost oil and gas jobs. In an editorial about green jobs, the New York Post offers a relevant anecdote:

[Andrew] Cuomo spent $950 million in public money to put up a solar plant in Buffalo. The first tenant, SolarCity, went bust; Elon Musk had to have Tesla take SolarCity over. Panasonic was lured in to help Tesla make a go of the plant, only to flee a year ago. With nearly a billion bucks down the drain, the project has never come close to offering the jobs once promised for it.

Pouring money into renewables isn't going to create the jobs they claim it will, and certainly not in Appalachia or the Rust Belt, which would be hit hard by a fracking ban.

It's worth noting that 70 percent of the world's solar panels are manufactured in China, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. Meanwhile, China's preferred power source is carbon-intensive coal. In fact, China's new coal-fired energy capacity in 2020 outstripped the rest of the world by 300 percent.

Which is to say, whatever his intentions, Kerry's energy preferences don't amount to blue collar job creation, but to increased American investment in Chinese renewables in order to subsidize China's addiction to coal. Maybe if he came down off his private jet for awhile he'd realize how crazy that is.

Who Misses the Energy Crisis? Joe Biden Does

The regulatory and policy changes of the Trump Administration led to unparalleled job growth and national prosperity. We suffered through  the dark Carter years of interrupted energy supplies, higher fuel costs, and long lines at gas stations, at the mercy of oil rich Middle Eastern countries and emerged in daylight to the Trump created energy independence we had sought for decades.

Now the Biden administration has rapidly signaled that it intends to undo those policies, impoverish us, jeopardize our security, increase energy costs, end millions of jobs, strip poor states of needed tax revenue, and hand China yet more economic gains at our expense.

John Kerry, owner of private planes, a substantial auto fleet, and two yachts was ludicrously named our “Energy Czar” and even he admits these policies will not reduce emissions. How effective these policies and programs will be depends on how much pushback there will be against this turnabout, but there are signs that  judicial and congressional challenges are already underway, and much of these actions were undertaken just to pay off the ill-informed greenies and not for any environmental benefit.

The country's in the very best of hands.

In the short time he’s been Commander in Chief, Biden has taken some 42 executive actions, including signing at least 24 executive orders. Most are so ludicrously unrealistic, I assumed former bartender Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez drafted them, and indeed AOC is delighted, saying they are just like the Green New Deal she’s been promoting. A great many of these will limit energy production and our domestic industrial base.

They will also increase consumer costs on everything, at a time when the China virus-related income and employment losses are being felt, particularly among the least wealthy, working class Americans who had begun to prosper during the early Trump years.

The most significant of these acts are rejoining the Paris climate agreement, pausing new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending comprehensive review and reconsideration of such permitting and leasing practices, killing the Keystone XL project, and tossing out the cost-benefit analysis for regulatory actions. These actions and orders will face significant challenges. I predict a bonanza for energy lawyers is in the making.

Last year, President Trump offered these leases in Alaska and California. Winning bidders were challenged in Alaska and a federal court refused to halt them determining they were authorized by federal law. It’s hard to see how the government can rescind those leases without compensation to the winning leaseholders. (Of course, they can impose strictures or delay permitting but the companies involved have enough practice in such matters to navigate the lengthy and costly regulatory process for which consumers ultimately will bear the price).

It’s of no small matter that West Virginia senator Joe Manchin was just named by senator Chuck Schumer to head the Senate Energy and National Resource Council. As a senator from a coal-producing state, he is unlikely to share the same distaste for fossil fuels as the New Yorker Ocasio-Cortez. Schumer felt compelled to give Manchin this important committee assignment because of his own slim majority and concerns that Manchin might be considering crossing the aisle. I expect Manchin to provide some check on the Green New Deal nonsense.

Aside from the existing judicial constraints and the likely role of senator Manchin, there are a number of Congressional opponents on both sides of the aisles to contend with. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Yvette Harrell (R-NM.) are demanding that Biden rescind the moratorium on drilling and leasing activities on federal land. Democrats Vincent Gonzales (D-Tex.), Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Tex.), Marc Veasey (D-Tex.) demand the order be rescinded, noting it would devastate New Mexico, spike fuel costs, cost as many as one million jobs and decrease U.S. GDP by $700 billion, reduce critical energy supplies, weaken national security and embroil the Interior department in litigation for failure to meet statutory requirements to hold lease sales.

It’s not only energy producers and distributors involved, of course: aside from direct energy jobs, a moratorium on coastal extractions would cost the high paying jobs in water management and coastal restoration, as Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana pointed out. Six state attorneys general are threatening a lawsuit over the moratorium -- they represent West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas. 

President Trump withdrew us from the Paris agreement, which had been entered into by President Obama without Congressional approval. It’s a ludicrous globalist folly which if followed (which Europe has not actually been doing) only would impoverish the U.S. and the rest of the Western industrial countries while leaving China and India to spew carbon emissions unchecked, with the result that there will be no diminution of these, even assuming they have a deleterious impact on climate (a debated proposition).

Acting under that agreement, Obama imposed a number of regulations on power plants and oil and gas production and delivery. These rules never took effect because they were either tied up in court or repealed and replaced by the Trump administration or dismissed by the courts as unlawful. Under the Trump EPA, final rules cost-benefit analyses must be conducted for all future rules. The Biden administration appears intent to scrap this requirement under the rubric “Modernizing Regulatory Review," but I don’t foresee that regulatory requirements can be altered without a lengthy procedure.

Even if they succeed at that, they have another hurdle to overcome. The Trump EPA locked in for five years current ozone and particulate matter standards and to alter these standards under the existing EPA rule there must be independent peer review of the pivotal science and identify the research the agency relied on to make the rule. The incoming administration may, in sum, institute new rules, but it can expect significant challenges along the way to enforcement. And you can expect that companies which have long lead times and have expended great sums and effort to comply with the existing regulations are not likely to easily and without challenge accept more stringent ones.

Retour a Paris?

It certainly will not help sell the Agreement when Green Czar Kerry dismisses the job losses that will follow by saying “those folks[can have] better choices,” adding, “they can make solar panels.” It’s condescending and, of course, it ignores that these panels are almost all manufactured in China (about 60 percent of the supply chain and three-quarters of the material used to make solar cells). It also grossly exaggerates the number of jobs available in installation of solar panels or maintenance of windmills. In 2019 there were 7,000 wind turbine technicians and 12,000 solar installers, a far cry from the thousands involved in conventional fuel production and distribution.

Facts are for little people -- bean counters -- not big thinkers like Kerry and Ocasio-Cortez. As if the "czar" hadn’t said enough to scotch the deal, he added the U.S. had to “pay through the nose and lose jobs to ensure other countries reduce their emissions.” Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has introduced a bill to block reentry into the Paris agreement until it receives Senate confirmation. She already has eleven GOP cosponsors.

I expect more will join her and I wouldn’t be surprised if a constitutional challenge in court will follow any further effort to rejoin the Agreement. It’s a treaty by any fair reading and the Constitution compels treaties be affirmed by two-thirds of the Senate (Article II, section 2). The question is, will the Democrats care?

Joe Biden's Climate Nirvana -- and Ours

Since Washington was locked down on inauguration day, President Joe Biden was free to spend his first day in office signing stacks of Executive Orders rather than attending the more traditional inaugural parades and balls. The object of these orders was, of course, to undo as much as possible everything the outgoing president, Donald Trump, had accomplished over the past four years.

Executive actions on climate and energy unsurprisingly dominated the first day’s to-do list. Since getting the U.S. out of the Paris climate treaty was Trump’s most consequential deregulatory action, it was fitting that Biden’s first signature was on a letter notifying the U.N. that America would be rejoining it.

Next, he signed a lengthy executive order that, among much else, canceled the permit for the mostly-completed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. Canceling Keystone immediately threw up to 11,000 well-paid construction workers out of their jobs. The trades union leaders who had endorsed Biden expressed their outrage, but the fact is that most of their members voted for Trump.

You got what you voted for, America.

Biden also ordered all government departments “to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis,” and directed that all deregulatory actions on fossil fuel energy use and production taken by the Trump administration be reviewed with an eye to suspending and rescinding them.

The order re-instated the application of the “social cost of carbon” (an entirely speculative and largely fanciful cost estimate of the impact of adding one ton of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere) in regulatory decision-making and abolished Trump reforms aimed at speeding up the environmental permitting processes that are routinely used to delay politically incorrect energy and natural resources projects to death. For example, major hardrock mining projects that take two to four years to permit in Canada or Australia routinely take over ten years in the U.S.

On January 27 the White House held a "Climate Day," which included a major speech by the new president. It began, "Today is 'Climate Day' at the White House and—which means that today is 'Jobs Day' at the White House." The speech focused on two selling points aimed at two uneasy partners in the Democratic Party coalition—trades unions and the Woke left.

It turns out that addressing the climate crisis requires creating “millions of good-paying union jobs” in building the new green infrastructure. One imagines that these jobs will be much better than those created by the free market because they will be guaranteed and subsidized by government.

At a press conference after Biden’s speech, John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, was asked about people losing their jobs in fossil fuel industries as a result of the administration’s agenda. Kerry’s reply was predictably tone deaf:

What President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives, that they can be the people to go to work to make the solar panels.

Implied, but unacknowledged, was the fact that they first have to lose their jobs in order to access these "better choices."

Hitting Kerry in a bad place.

For the woke left, Biden offered something called "environmental justice." While it’s not clear exactly what the term means, the intended audience is a broad one:

With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color—so-called “fenceline communities”—especially those communities — brown, black, Native American, poor whites.

Several specific decisions were also announced during Climate Day, including a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and offshore areas (which account for nearly one-quarter of U.S. oil production).

In addition to these announcements, there was much speculation in the media about other planned actions. Most notably, the New York Times reported that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) was planning to take three to ten billion dollars out of their reserves meant for dealing with disasters such as  hurricanes and spend it on preparing for the impacts of "climate change." Possible projects include constructing sea walls to safeguard against rising sea levels (the current rate is between 7 and 14 inches per century).

But most importantly, Biden made it clear that the entire executive branch is going to be organized around addressing climate: "It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy." His executive order officially declares a "climate crisis." A climate office or program is being installed in every federal department and agency.

Or maybe it can.

All this activity requires a lot of new high-level staffing at the White House as well. In addition to Kerry, Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Obama and then president of a major environmental pressure group (the Natural Resources Defense Council, which had $173 million in income in 2018), has been named National Climate Advisor, with the same rank as the National Security Advisor.

McCarthy will be head of the White House Climate Policy Office and also oversee a National Climate Task Force. When Biden introduced McCarthy near the beginning of his Climate Day speech, he off-handedly let the cat out of the bag, saying “And Gina—you run everything, Gina."

The next step may be to declare a National Climate Emergency and invoke a wide range of special emergency authorities given to the president by Congress. This would allow the president to commandeer large parts of the economy not currently under government control.

It’s going to be a long, long way to climate nirvana, but we can next look forward to an undoubtedly scintillating international Climate Leaders’ Summit hosted by the United States. The White House has scheduled the summit for Earth Day, April 22, which appropriately would be the 151st birthday of Vladimir Lenin, the patron saint of national economic overhauls. No word, yet, on whether that's intentional.

A Second, Unaccountable EPA for Biden?

Liberals continue to fret about how the Biden Administration will enact Joe's climate agenda without complete Democratic control of Congress. For the latest example of this genre, here's Derek Brower writing in the Financial Times:

More than 81 million Americans and a majority of electors backed a candidate who said he hoped to “transition from the oil industry” and put clean energy at the centre of a US$2 trillion green plan to decarbonize American electricity in 15 years and create a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050....

Yet as the dust settles on Biden’s victory, the political realities are starting to set in too. Despite retaining a majority, Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives and at best can hope to split the Senate 50:50 by winning two run-off elections in Georgia in January. For all the enthusiasm of his supporters — and despite the mandate from the popular vote — the full gamut of Biden’s transformative US$2 trillion energy plan has little chance of progressing through such a divided chamber.

Brower goes on to lament "an increasingly conservative judiciary will be an obstacle to federal bodies acting expansively" (translation: Trump-appointed judges will make it difficult for Biden's White House to work around the Constitution), and consequently it will likely take a few years to fully undo Trump's efforts at rolling back onerous regulations on the resource sector.

He is hopeful, however, that a few key administrative actions will have big impact nationwide. These include toughening up fuel economy standards and granting California a new Clean Air Act waiver (Trump revoked the previous one) which will allow the state to impose significantly stricter emissions standards than the federal government, an act which (because of the Golden State's size) could have a ripple effect on the entire auto industry.

Brower is also encouraged by Biden’s announced appointments of "several heavyweights to key energy positions" which he feels denote a "bold climate agenda," the lack of Congressional support notwithstanding. He mentions a few of these appointments, including new international climate envoy John Kerry and domestic "climate czar" Gina McCarthy. These names are, in fact, pretty striking, especially considering the roles they've accepted. Kerry, former Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state, and McCarthy, a former EPA chief, have both been cabinet members and now they're content with newly created positions which sound pretty meaningless. What gives?

The Daily Caller's Larry Behrens thinks he's figured it out. His contention is that Biden's object is to create what is effectively a second EPA within the White House, one whose officials aren't confirmed by the Senate and whose actions won't require congressional oversight.

Kerry and McCarthy are perfect choices for that type of role. They're big names who will get the liberal media excited, but who might be shy of Senate confirmation hearings. According to Behrens, McCarthy would be especially reluctant to answer questions about her most recent job as head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, "an environmental organization that faced scrutiny for their relationship to Chinese entities." Of course, as Behrens points out, this is an appropriate background for her new job, which is to undermine America's resource industry while pushing solar panels that are manufactured in China.

Framed that way -- a president creating powerful executive branch positions for people who are unlikely to get through a senate confirmation to enact a policy agenda that he didn't campaign on for the benefit of a foreign power -- this all is a perfect encapsulation of modern American governance.

Apparatchik John Kerry, Climate Czar

Suppose you are a man with a long history of personal mediocrity in important positions. You aren’t quite as publicly toxic as, say, Hillary Clinton. But no one really respects you either. You’re old, 76. You’re definitely a “me too” lothario. You have said nothing notable in 35 years in the public eye, first as a U.S. Senator, then failed presidential candidate, and finally Secretary of State.

Your biggest success was in being the face of Obama’s Iran deal, the entire premise of which was to set up an untrustworthy, fundamentalist regime hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, and deeply hated by its own people, as a dominant regional power.

So which job do you get in a Joe Biden Administration?

Somewhere a Soviet architect weeps: the DoE.

Climate Czar!  Nice touch, that "Czar." Commissar would have been a bit heavy handed. Who knows what the Mandarin translation is.

Actually, John Kerry’s official new title is “Special Presidential Envoy for Climate,” and he will report directly to apparent president-elect Biden. The post is housed within the National Security Council, because, apparently, climate is a now national security issue, which is not quite the same thing as a matter of science, or even weather (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, anybody?).

Official Washington is gleeful at the appointment. A typical Washington Post headline joyfully trumpeted, “Biden Brings Back the Establishment.”  It is deeply ironic that Kerry, who first came to prominence as a decorated Vietnam war veteran leveling allegations of war crimes against fellow soldiers, is now ‘the Establishment.”

In addition to the Iran deal, from which President Trump withdrew the U.S. early on because Iran’s compliance was unverifiable, Kerry also oversaw negotiations for the multilateral Paris climate Accords, from which President Trump also withdrew the U.S. Trump’s blunt contention was that, since the Paris accords failed to hold China responsible for the pollution it generates, which comprises the largest share of global pollution leading to warming and environmental destruction, and since the U.S. generally outperforms the standards the accord require in terms of emissions and carbon use, there was precisely no point in being party to, or bound by, its strictures.

The Paris accords, Trump claimed, harmed U.S. energy and manufacturing jobs, and were simply another way of transferring money to China, while absolving that nation of responsibility. Both Biden and Kerry, whose sons have been partners in some of their financial ventures, have ties to China that may render that consideration moot.

Didn't end well for this czar.

Not only did Biden campaign on an immediate return to the Paris accords, but he  has repeatedly placed “climate change” at the top of his “Day One” agenda for action, second only to Covid-19. Indeed, Biden has been eager to persuade other nations to adopt even higher standards. He has mentioned “zero carbon emissions” by 2030, and 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, which even some lefties privately agree is unrealistic.

How, precisely, climate change affects American national security is undefined. In a statement released on Monday the transition team remained committed to vagueness, noting that Kerry, “will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.”  “This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue.” Kerry himself tweeted:

As a political matter, it is worth considering the possibility that Kerry is there to rein in staffers who are far more radical than he or Biden. According to the Washington Post, the Biden administration has a plan to spend upwards of “$2 trillion over four years to boost renewables and create incentives for energy-efficient cars, homes, and commercial buildings.”

Environmentalist contrarian Michael Shellenberger noted on Nov. 24, on the Tucker Carlson show that all of this adds up to nothing more than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. That plan was explicitly formulated by the “Justice Democrats” as a way to take over the economy. According to Shellenberger, “we are way past the point of stopping climate change. If we gave up all carbon use, temperatures would rise for the next 400 years, anyway. But we are doing a fine job adapting."

Biden has framed his climate plan as a jobs program, making clear that he is prepared to pour unprecedented resources into transitioning the United States away from fossil fuels as part of the effort to boost an economy battered by the pandemic.

And "climate change" is now a matter of social justice. The Washington Post reported that the Biden plan includes a commitment to invest 40 percent of the clean energy money in historically disadvantaged communities, on the flimsy justification that there is some connection between climate change and systemic racism. A local California politician called it “the most innovative and bold plan in a presidential campaign that we’ve seen from an environmental justice standpoint.”

Detroit: blame racism and climate change.

Biden’s team already has plans on how it will restrict oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters; ratchet up federal mileage standards for cars and SUVs; block pipelines that transport fossil fuels across the country; provide federal incentives to develop renewable power; and mobilize other nations to make deeper cuts in their own carbon emissions.

Remember that second debate between Trump and Biden, in which Biden denied that he would end fracking, or destroy the oil and natural gas industries, with their millions of jobs, in the U.S.? That was not true. Look for steeply rising gas prices early in a Biden Administration, something it might take the populace some time to notice, due to state mandated lockdown orders.

It is clear that when Biden warned the nation, in the first debate, that we were heading into a "dark winter," that was a promise, not just a threat. He and Czar Kerry will ensure it happens with higher energy costs that will keep us in the dark and shivering far into the winters of the future as well.

The Swamp Strikes Back

Joe Biden has started to announce appointments to key roles in his administration should he be inaugurated in January. He finds himself constrained by the unexpected failure of his party thus far to retake the senate and its reduced majority in the House.

Consequently, it doesn't look like we will be seeing Elizabeth Warren at Treasury, Bernie Sanders at Labor, or -- a popular rumor over the past few weeks -- Hillary Clinton as Ambassador to the United Nations. But instead of those ideological actors, we're getting mostly career political staffers and bureaucrats, aka the Swamp.

The big fish thus far is longtime Biden ally Antony Blinken for Secretary of State. Blinken -- the son of wealthy investment banker and Clinton-era Ambassador Donald Blinken -- served as then-Vice President Biden's national security adviser before being promoted to Deputy Secretary of State by Barack Obama. He is also a Russia hoax-supporter and an ardent champion of the kind of hawkish foreign policy which Trump ran against in 2016. As The American Conservative's Curt Mills wrote this morning, the worry about Blinken isn't so much that he's a "wild-eyed radical," but that "his policy views are emblematic of a broader rot within the American establishment."

The same could be said for the the other intended appointments announced on Monday, including former Foreign Service Director General Linda Thomas-Greenfield to the U. N. and former Hillary Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan. The latter, as you might have guessed from his relationship with Mrs. Clinton, is another hawk, but he is also noteworthy for having had a hand in secretly negotiating the Iran deal, which the U. S. has since backed out of.

Environmentalist groups are upset by the potential appointments of both Sullivan and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who Biden has announced as a senior advisor, as both are reportedly skeptical of their cause. Sullivan appears in one of the leaked Clinton E-Mails questioning the idea that carbon neutrality by 2050 is at all realistic. As for Rep. Richmond, environmentalists are concerned by his closeness with oil and gas in his home state of Louisiana. The Sunrise Movement, an environmentalist activist group, put out a statement opposing his appointment which read,

One of President-Elect Biden’s very first hires for his new administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his Congressional career than nearly any other Democrat, cozied up to Big Oil and Gas, and stayed silent and ignored meeting with organizations in his own community while they suffered from toxic pollution and sea-level rise.

Now, should those of us who are concerned about the resource sector as a source of good jobs and safe, reliable (and clean) energy be encouraged by these appointments? Probably not. There's a civil war brewing on the left, which has been held in check until recently by shared loathing for Donald Trump. Though Biden might feel forced staff up with conventional swamp creatures, before too long he will feel the need to satisfy the loudest lefties in his caucus. Short sighted as they might be, carbon taxes and increasing restrictions on fracking are the easiest bones he can throw them.

Of course, for the Greens, those would only whet the appetite.