Biden’s climate change agenda would reduce oil demand enough to displace Russian imports: study

President Biden’s announcement that the United States would ban imports of Russian oil sent crude prices soaring on Tuesday morning. However, the pain Americans are expected to feel at the gas pump could eventually be offset if Congress passes Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, according to a new study.

An analysis published on Tuesday by the nonpartisan think tank Energy Innovation finds that the climate change provisions of Biden’s now-defunct proposal, such as tax credits for the purchase of new electric vehicles, would have reduced the oil consumption of United States by 2025 half of the about 200,000 barrels of Russian crude oil per day that the United States imported last year. By 2027 the United States would have reduced its oil consumption by more than it imported from Russia and by 2030 the United States would have reduced its oil consumption by more than twice its Russian imports .

President Biden at the White House microphone.

President Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 8, 2022. (Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“As long as we depend on an international energy commodity like oil, whose prices are based on the actions of all producers in the world, be it Russia, OPEC or the United States, we will never have energy security,” Robbie Orvis, senior director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation and author of the report, told Yahoo News. “The only solid, long-term way to achieve energy security is to eliminate the demand for fossil fuels. The arrangements on the table right now would really kickstart that transition. »

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who co-sponsored the Green New Deal legislation, released A declaration calling on Tuesday to make the ban on Russian oil imports permanent and to adopt the climate part of Build Back Better, which would spend $555 billion over 10 years on everything from tax credits for the purchase of solar panels to incentives to manufacture longer-lasting solar batteries and small modular nuclear reactors.

“By igniting a clean energy revolution, we can end our reliance on dirty oil and gas and permanently close the pipeline of money to Putin and other oil oligarchs,” Markey told Yahoo News, in a separate statement sent by his spokesperson. “We broadly agree on the need to invest $555 billion in climate and clean energy as part of our economic and infrastructure agenda, and now is the time to make it happen, as we let’s continue to work towards adopting a Green New Deal.”

Build Back Better, after passing the House of Representatives, has stalled in the Senate, where the United Republican Opposition and the reluctance of Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., have blocked its passage since last fall. The Biden administration has not specifically linked the Russian-Ukrainian war to a call to relaunch the package.

Senator Joe Manchin, with a wary expression, listens during a press conference.

Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) at a press conference on Capitol Hill March 3 in Washington, DC (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, Biden avoided using the phrase “build back better.” He called on Congress to pass its various components, including clean energy spending and social spending priorities, such as child care subsidy, but he did not tie them to the war in Ukraine. The next day, Manchin says Politico that he would support a slimmed down version of the agenda that would drop social spending but retain provisions on climate change.

But the administration rejects arguments from conservative politicians and pundits who say the war demonstrates the need for a long-term increase in domestic fossil fuel production, countering that it instead underscores the importance of getting rid of fossil fuels.

“Over the long term, the way to avoid high gas prices is to accelerate — not slow — our transition to a clean energy future,” the White House wrote in an information sheet that accompanied Tuesday’s announcement. “We cannot break our dependence on a global product controlled in part by foreign nations and their rulers, including [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. The only way to eliminate the ability of Putin and all other producing countries to use oil as an economic weapon is to reduce our dependence on oil. So even as President Biden does everything in his power in the short term to ensure that we can easily access the oil and gas needed to protect American consumers and allied countries – including through production America’s domestic growth that is expected to reach record highs next year – this crisis reinforces our resolve to make America truly energy independent, which means reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the price of Brent crude oil rose from around $99 per barrel on February 28 to $118 on March 4, and has continued to rise ever since. during. Tuesday morning, Brent prices exploded 7.7%, to $132.75, in response to Biden’s executive order banning Russian oil imports.

A row of destroyed Russian armored vehicles in the town of Bucha.

This general view shows destroyed Russian armored vehicles in the town of Bucha, west of Kiev, on March 4. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

Although Biden’s order also applies to coal and natural gas, the United States does not import significant amounts of coal or gas from Russia. However, Energy Innovation also estimates that Biden’s Build Back Better program would reduce US natural gas consumption by 4.7 trillion cubic feet per year by 2030, which is equivalent to 85% of the gas that the Europe imports from Russia.

Of course, even an accelerated transition to electric vehicles and home heating systems will not reduce oil or gas prices in the months ahead. But, Energy Innovation points out, neither the licensing of new oil and gas pipelines nor the sale of new oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands, as demanded by congressional Republicans and the oil and gas industry.

“At this point, almost all of the solutions discussed are long-term solutions, including a significant increase in fossil fuel production and major technological changes,” the Energy Innovation report says. “For example, there is very limited potential for a significant increase in U.S. oil supply in the near term according to the industry itself, which cites a timeline of at least two to three years to increase. production significantly.”

Lobbyists for environmental organizations say they hope oil and gas supply disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will help motivate the Senate to pass Build Back Better climate provisions . “I don’t think it will be called [Build Back Better], and I think it will be different from the bill passed by the House that we strongly supported,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, told Yahoo News. “But we remain cautiously optimistic that Congress will make transformative progress that will keep us on track to pass the test of halving climate pollution by 2030, which is the goal that science and justice demand. I’m having a lot of conversations across the House, Senate, and administration, and I really feel there’s a real resolve to meet this climate moment.

A derrick in a snowy landscape.

An oil producing rig in the Novo-Yelkhovskoye field of the Yelkhovneft Oil and Gas Production Board, part of Tatneft Oil and Gas Company, in the Almetyevsk district of Russia. (Yegor Aleyev/TASS via Getty Images)

“Obviously there have been the devastating effects of the climate crisis, but Putin’s war on Ukraine shows how dangerous it is to depend on dirty fossil fuels – and that we really need to double down on our efforts in this regard. clean, renewable energy,” Sittenfeld said. added. “So we fervently hope and absolutely expect Congress to do the job.”

“The kind of geopolitical turmoil that surrounds fossil fuels re-emphasizes the need to move away from fossil fuels,” Sierra Club legislative director Melinda Pierce told Yahoo News. “I think the US Senate could produce something in an April to May time frame.”

The outlook on Capitol Hill, however, remains unclear. Yahoo News contacted Manchin and the other recalcitrant Senate Democrat, Kirsten Sinema of Arizona, as well as several Republican members of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, but none responded. The White House declined to comment.

The environmental movement will continue to assert that the oil shocks show that the country cannot wait any longer to make its transition to cleaner energy sources. “We have to go, and we should have done it yesterday,” Pierce said.

Global temperatures are on the rise and have been for decades. Step into the data and see the scale of climate change.


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Felix J. Dixon