President Joe Biden’s green energy platform has some Pennsylvanians seeing red.
“Biden’s energy policy priorities are completely out of touch with reality,” says Leo Knepper, political director at Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP).
Included in the latest version of the Build Back Better Act is approximately $555 billion for efforts designed to wean America off fossil fuels and promote more wind, solar and alternative energy technologies.
“Americans are looking at high gas prices and heating costs that will be almost double what they were last winter,” says Knepper. “Rather than encouraging domestic energy production, the administration is going to waste money funding the next Solyndra. Meanwhile, the president is encouraging OPEC to produce more oil and asking Russian to increase natural gas shipments into Europe. It’s truly mind-boggling.”
Solyndra was a green energy investment made by the Obama administration that collapsed into a $535 million political scandal.
Biden says green energy efforts are needed to reduce emissions and combat man-made climate change.
“The Build Back Better Act will create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, spur long-term growth, reduce price pressures, and set the United States on course to meet its clean energy ambitions.”
Gordon Tomb, senior advisor to the CO2 Coalition, begs to differ.
“The proposed so-called investments in unreliable and expensive wind and solar are more of the kind of green-lobby handouts that already have produced power shortages in places like Europe and California and high prices for electricity consumers and motorists,” says Tomb. “Hostility toward fossil fuels has resulted in under-investment in coal, oil and natural gas preventing the level of energy development necessary for a modern society.”
Tomb adds the “ridiculous premise of an impending climate crisis has no basis in science and is contradicted by overwhelming historical data.
“That includes the fact that most of the last 10,000 years has been warmer than today,” says Tomb. “Earth is flourishing with record crop harvests and an overall greening because of moderate natural warming and higher levels of carbon dioxide.”
Republican National Committee spokesperson Allie Carroll says the state has already seen problems already with Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.
“Joe Biden, Tom Wolf, and Democrats’ war on energy is already costing Pennsylvanians their livelihoods, and Biden’s radical climate agenda will only gut what is left of the commonwealth’s once-booming energy industry,” says Carroll. “Keystone State businesses and workers have had enough of Democrats’ job-killing regulations.”
Kurt Knaus of Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance says no one denies the need for larger investments in new energy technologies, but the switch-over won’t happen overnight.
“The plan completely fails to address the need for investments in critical pipeline infrastructure, which delivers the homegrown, American-produced natural gas we need to make this transition successful,” says Knaus. “Without natural gas and investments in related infrastructure, that transition really is a bridge too far.”
One of those investments was announced just last week. Houston-based Nacero Inc. plans to build a $6 billion manufacturing facility on the site of a former coal mine in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The company aims to produce low-and-zero-lifecycle carbon footprint gasoline made from natural gas and renewable natural gas.
“This is one more example of how Pennsylvania’s abundant natural gas resources are driving a manufacturing renaissance and creating thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs for skilled laborers,” says Knaus. “Our commonwealth has turned a corner (because) for decades we watched manufacturing facilities close up shop or leave the state for other places, but now the opposite is happening, as new industries are choosing Pennsylvania because of our vast resources and investing billions of dollars to create jobs, rebuild communities and drive economic growth for decades to come.”
The facility will bring roughly 4,000 construction jobs to the area, with the complete facility being able to employ approximately 450 people. Work on the new facility will begin in 2022-23 and last several years. Project completion is targeted for 2026-27.
Meanwhile, the debate continues over the role of natural gas in the near-term energy economy. Advocates say natural gas is cheap, abundant, and efficient. It also burns cleaner than coal.
“The direct use of natural gas achieves 92 percent efficiency, far better than any other energy source, and it cuts carbon emissions nearly in half,” says American Gas Association (AGA) on its website. “And it’s estimated that our nation has enough natural gas to meet our ever-growing energy needs for the next 100 years.”
Environmental groups like the Sunrise Movement and the Sierra Club are pressuring politicians to oppose natural gas development. In fact, the Sierra Club has a Beyond Gas campaign.
“Like coal, gas (also known as natural gas, although extracting it is far from natural) is incredibly harmful to our environment, our health, and our economy. It still exacerbates climate change, pollutes the air, wreaks environmental devastation, hurts the economy, and interferes with the deployment of renewable energy sources that are ready to go. Although the gas industry and its allies insist otherwise, we need to move beyond all fossil fuels – including gas.”
In addition to fighting man-made climate change, Biden says America’s children need clean air, which he says is all the more reason for Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act.
“The framework will cut greenhouse gas pollution by well over one gigaton in 2030, reduce consumer energy costs, give our kids cleaner air and water, create hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs, and advance environmental justice by investing in a 21st-century clean energy economy – from buildings, transportation, industry, electricity, and agriculture to climate-smart practices across our lands and waters.”
American Petroleum Institute (API) is watching the situation closely.
“We’re reviewing the legislative text and look forward to continuing our work with members of both parties to advance legislation that achieves meaningful reductions while ensuring American households and business continue to have access to affordable, reliable energy,” says Frank Macchiarola, API senior vice president of policy, economics, and regulatory affairs.
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