Many environmentalists support Biden’s decision to mine oil reserves, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld


WASHINGTON: Democrats and climate activists generally supported President Joe Biden’s decision to release a record 50 million barrels of oil from the US strategic reserve, even though the move seemed to contradict his long-term view of the fight against climate change.

The US action, announced Tuesday in coordination with countries like India, the UK and China, targets global energy markets and helps bring down gasoline prices which have risen more than ‘a dollar a gallon since January. But it could also undermine Biden’s climate goals, including a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Some big climate hawks, however, said they were not affected by the move because they saw it as a short-term solution to a specific problem. Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., Who has focused on tackling climate change, said Biden was “taking effective action to protect Americans from rising oil prices” even as the administration continues to boost renewables which it hopes will eventually mean less reliance on fossil fuels.

“Is that what reserves are to defend our economy against disruption?” Markey tweeted. “Profit cannot go unanswered, especially as Big Oil is making billions and fueling the climate crisis through exports. “

The Strategic Oil Reserve is an emergency stockpile to preserve access to oil in the event of natural disasters, national security concerns and other events. Maintained by the Department of Energy, the reserves are stored in caves created in salt domes along the Gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana. There are approximately 605 million barrels of oil in the reserve.

Markey and other Democrats had urged Biden to release oil from the reserve to ease prices for consumers. There have also been calls for the president to reinstate a ban on crude oil exports that was lifted in 2015. Biden has taken no action to reimpose the export ban, which was repealed by Republicans in the United States. Congress for the purpose of asserting the energy dominance of the United States and promoting the domestic market. production.

Biden has the power, under the law, to declare an emergency and limit or stop oil exports for up to a year, but shouldn’t do so.

Kelly Sheehan, senior director of energy campaigns at the Sierra Club, praised Biden’s actions as a way to ease the energy burden on Americans. But she said the current surge in oil prices was a reminder that “the only way to truly achieve energy security is to move away quickly from risky fossil fuels like oil and gas and allow more people to people have easier access to clean energy ”.

Lorne Stockman, Research Director of Oil Change International, an environmental group focused on creating a “fossil-free future”? said Biden should have acted sooner, if only to counter a barrage of Republican criticism blaming him for high gasoline prices.

“Presidents are still blamed for high gas prices, whether they have something to do with it or not? Stockman said, calling the measure a small step in providing short-term relief to American consumers.

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Biden said rising gas prices made the move necessary and that would not distract him from his broader ambitions of moving towards energy independence.

“My effort to fight climate change is not increasing the price of gas,” Biden said. “What it is doing is increasing the availability of jobs in building electric cars like the one I drove … at a GM plant in Detroit last week.”

Americans who buy electric cars will save up to $ 1,000 in fuel costs this year, Biden said, “and we’re going to bring those savings to more Americans and create jobs by installing solar panels, batteries and electric heat pumps. We can make our economy and our consumers less vulnerable to these kinds of price spikes when we do. ”

Biden said the White House is investigating a possible price hike by oil companies squeezing customers while making money with lower costs. And Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said U.S. companies were keeping production below pre-pandemic levels in order to boost profits.

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken energy markets. When the closures began in April 2020, demand collapsed and oil futures prices turned negative. Energy traders didn’t want to end up with crude they couldn’t store. But as the economy recovered, prices hit a seven-year high in October.

Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Called Biden’s use of the strategic reserve, along with calls for OPEC and Russia to increase production, as “desperate attempts to deal with disaster. caused by Biden ”and no substitute for the increase in US energy production.

Lukas Ross, head of climate and energy justice at Friends of the Earth, another environmental group, said soaring gas prices show that “our continued dependence on a volatile compound that literally bakes the climate is exactly why we need it. major social and environmental bill approved as soon as possible.

The $ 2 trillion bill, which has been approved in the House and is pending in the Senate, includes approximately $ 550 billion for efforts to combat climate change, including proposals to boost energy wind and solar and support electric vehicles. Republicans unanimously oppose the measure.

Biden said the United States must get out of dependence on oil and “now is the time to deliver on that promise by urgently accelerating the transition to electric cars and a renewable energy grid,” said Kassie Siegel, director of a climate law institute. at the Center for Biological Diversity, another environmental group.

“Price volatility will always be a part of Big Oil’s playbook,” she added. “Let’s lift their stranglehold on our economy once and for all. “

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