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.