Industry Calls the Climate Shots in the Biden Administration

Yves here. So what Biden promise did you choose to believe? “Nothing fundamental will change” which means among other things continuing Obama Administration headfakes like promoting environmentally destructive fracking and engaging in hand waves like joining the toothless Paris climate accords in the waning days of his second term? Or feel good campaign blather? It’s not hard to guess which pledge was the one that mattered.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at God’s Spies

Don’t miss the fact that millions of gallons of poison (“chemicals”) are pumped into the ground in order to force other poisons (methane and fracked oil) out of it.

In contrast to the praise Biden is getting from people like Maureen Dowd (the essence of her latest column is “See, Bernie likes Biden and he likes Bernie”), Biden’s actual deeds, especially on climate, are deadly.

(The other essence of Dowd’s latest column is, “Continue to hope; Bernie can still save us.” She writes, “Sanders … and Biden have a bond that could have a profound effect on the lives of Americans,” whitewashing Biden with Sanders’ remaining cred. No mention of Sanders’ ultimate powerlessness.)

Food And Water Watch (FWW), a group that’s always excellent on climate and environmental issues, has put together a list of Biden’s actions that contradict his promises. It’s an easy read. Taken together, these are deadly indictments.

If Biden wanted to fix the increasingly urgent climate problem, he’d be doing that now and we’d be seeing him do it. Instead he fed us nice words when he wanted our vote, then contradicted those words with his constant and ongoing deeds once he gained power. There can be no question that industry calls the shots in his administration.

Read and weep. The following is excerpted and adapted from the FWW article. Read it in full for additional detail on each of these points.

January 27, 2021
During a Senate confirmation hearing, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm argued that fossil fuels aren’t going anywhere: “If we are going to get to net carbon zero emissions by 2050, we cannot do it without coal, oil, and gas being part of the mix.”

January 28, 2021
When announcing his executive order on public lands drilling, Biden declared: “Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up: We’re not going to ban fracking.”

February 3, 2021
Granholm pushes “clean” fracking during written answers during her confirmation hearing.

  • “I believe U.S. LNG [liquid natural gas; i.e., methane] exports can have an important role to play in reducing international consumption of fuels that have greater contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” she writes.
  • “If confirmed as Secretary, I also look forward to working with U.S. industry in ways to reduce emissions associated with this commodity,”

March 4, 2021
Biden: “I’m all for natural gas.” Said at a private meeting with union leaders.

March 8, 2021
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is bullish on non-existent carbon capture.

She touts its potential to a virtual conference for oil and gas executives, saying, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that you can’t get to net-zero carbon emissions without carbon capture, utilization and storage. We are excited about that.”

CCS is non-existent, which makes it the perfect pro-industry talking point, a magic pony that convinces people to let them keep extracting and burning. Granholm may as well be speaking for the industry when she says those words.

Also: If you read the IPCC quote above again and realize that CCS doesn’t and won’t exist, it’s hard not to conclude that the IPCC is saying we’re screwed.March 11, 2021
Biden ramps up fracking on public lands. Despite his vow to rein in fracking on public lands, Argus Media reports that the Biden Interior Department “has approved 200 drilling permits over the past two weeks…”For reference, this is from Biden’s campaign website:

Biden’s Day One Unprecedented Executive Actions to Drive Historic Progress On day one, Biden will use the full authority of the executive branch to make progress and significantly reduce emissions. Biden recognizes we must go further, faster and more aggressively than ever before, by […]

• Protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters, establishing national parks and monuments that reflect America’s natural heritage, banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, modifying royalties to account for climate costs, and establishing targeted programs to enhance reforestation and develop renewables on federal lands and waters with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030. [emphasis added]

March 23, 2021
Administration admits they’re “not fighting the oil and gas sector.”

Reports surface that White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy met privately with oil industry representatives to discuss “shared priorities.” McCarthy “made clear that the Administration is not fighting the oil and gas sector,” and asked the oil industry representatives to present “ideas for addressing the climate crisis and reducing emissions.”

Climate adviser Gina McCarthy is this person:

She’s also this person.

March 26, 2021
John Kerry thinks corporations, not government, will solve the climate crisis.

Climate envoy John Kerry tells a finance group: “No government is going to solve this problem…The solutions are going to come from the private sector….[U]ltimately, the market is going to make the decisions, not the government.”

May 11, 2021
Biden administration defends a plan to frack a national forest.

The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are appealing a court ruling that found the government failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of issuing new fracking leases in Wayne National Forest in Ohio.

Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity told Reuters: “There’s a wide and dangerous chasm between the Biden administration’s climate rhetoric and its defense of unlawful fracking.” [emphasis added]

May 14, 2021
Granholm says she wants to “be a partner” with the fossil fuel industry.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told an oil industry conference: “We want to be a partner. … [T]raditional fossil energy is going to remain important, even as we work to reduce carbon emissions.”

May 20, 2021
Administration approves even more fracking permits on public land: “Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has already broken Biden’s campaign promise by approving more than five hundred new drilling permits for previously existing leases since Biden took office.”

May 24, 2021
Biden administration approves Trump administration lease sales.

According to E&E News, the Interior Department has “issued dozens of oil leases sold in the final weeks of the Trump administration — and could issue over 200 more — drawing the ire of an environmental group that argues the move is a violation of the Biden administration’s leasing freeze.”

May 25, 2021
Biden administration proposed fracking a national monument.

E&E News reports: “The Biden administration yesterday advanced a proposal for oil and gas exploration on the back steps of the Dinosaur National Monument, sparking criticism from Utah public land advocates.”

May 26, 2021
Biden administration backs Trump’s plan to frack Alaska.

The New York Times reports: “The Biden administration is defending a huge Trump-era oil and gas project in the North Slope of Alaska designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years, despite President Biden’s pledge to pivot the country away from fossil fuels.”

A reminder, again, from the Biden website (link above): “On day one, Biden will use the full authority of the executive branch to … go further, faster and more aggressively than ever before, by… [p]rotecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters…” [emphasis added]

May 28, 2021
Granholm wants to promote and sell “decarbonized” methane.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm promoting fossil fuels at a hydrogen facility in Texas: “We want to be able to promote and sell clean technologies… That could be natural gas that has been decarbonized, or that could be natural gas where the methane flaring has been eliminated.”

Food and Water Watch notes: “This rhetoric is basically indistinguishable from industry PR.” I’d remove the word basically from that sentence.

June 3, 2021
The number of Biden fracking permits approaches Trump levels.

“According to statistics from the Bureau of Land Management, from the start of February to the end of April, the administration approved 1,179 drilling permits on federal lands, not far from the four-year high of nearly 1,400approved over a similar three-month period at the end of Trump’s term.”

June 8, 2021
Gina McCarthy hosts oil company execs during DAPL line 3 protests.

“While national media cover a series of intense grassroots actions demanding that the White House stop the Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, the administration studiously refuses to comment. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reportsthat a group of oil executives was having a private meeting at the White House with climate advisor Gina McCarthy.”

June 8, 2021
Granholm praises nuclear energy at a nuclear industry conference.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm calls nuclear power “an absolutely critical part of our decarbonization equation” and touts the administration’s nearly $2 billion nuclear power budget request. “The administration is ready to walk the walk,” she added.

June 9, 2021
Biden administration wants to make U.S. methane products “competitive around the world.”

Andrew Light, Biden’s nominee to be the deputy assistant secretary for international affairs at the Energy Department, wants to see more fracked gas exports: “My job in this role is to make sure U.S. gas is competitive around the world…Russia has the dirtiest source of gas right now. We’ve got to make sure ours is cleaner and that ours fill those markets around the world. That’s what I intend to do.”

He seeks to make the United States the leaders in “abated natural gas technology around the world.”

June 10, 2021
Gizmodo reports that the administration is nominating Neil MacBride for Treasury general counsel. McBride recently sued the Treasury Department on behalf of Exxon.

June 14, 2021
Biden administration refuses to set an end-date for coal.

Reporting from a G7 summit focused on climate action, Politico reports that the Biden administration helped to block more forceful action on phasing out coal. “Days of negotiations at the G7 leaders summit in Cornwall failed to set an end-date for coal after the U.S. and Japan blocked a deal.”

June 16, 2021
Energy Department funds more magical carbon capture “solutions.”

The Energy Department announced $12 million to fund ‘direct air capture’ [DAC] projects, which it touted as a chance to remove 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. DAC is a highly expensive and mostly theoretical enterprise.

To put this in perspective, the largest corporate polluter in 2018 was responsible for 119 million tons of CO2 equivalent.

June 23, 2021
Granholm assumes non-existent pollution controls are in effect.

Jennifer Granholm has said that methane would qualify as a clean energy solution “if you combined natural gas with carbon removal so that it was really clean and that you had zero carbon emissions.”

This ignores every other problem with methane production and use, such as “leakage, water contamination and pollution at the well sites — as well as the other air pollutants created by gas-fired power plants.”

June 23, 2021
Progressive” Deb Haaland says fracking on public lands will continue “well into the future.”

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told a House committee hearing, “I don’t think there is a plan right now for a permanent ban” on oil and gas drilling on public lands. “Gas and oil production will continue well into the future.”

June 24, 2021
Biden administration boosts the DAPL Line 3 pipeline project.

A growing, powerful grassroots movement is demanding that President Biden stop the Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline under construction in Minnesota. The White House responds by filing a brief backing the Trump administration’s approval of the project. The Justice Department, as Gizmodo reported, “asked the court to reject any more arguments from environmental and Indigenous groups and allow the pipeline to move forward.”

June 25, 2021
Granholm promotes the industry-preferred carbon capture “solution” so the fossil fuel industry can “ramp up production.”

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm boasts that the White House support for “significant” carbon capture research funding is good news: “These kinds of technologies will help for the oil and gas sector to be able to ramp up production, but in a way that’s clean.”

Again, there’s no such thing as carbon capture and storage. Either we stop the fossil fuel industry or we don’t. Period.

The FWW report was published on June 30, so it ends here. July’s affronts to reason and a habitable climate are unreported.

This is just a fact. There will be no climate solution from the Biden administration. It’s been fully industry-captured.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    That’s quite a list that. Especially when you remember that Biden has only been in Office for about 175 days now. Last year Biden was announcing a whole swag of task forces so that he would have policies ready to go from day one. Was there a task force for the oil and gas industry also announced whose policies are now being followed? Or was there one for that off the books. There was a Unity Task Force on Climate Change under John Kerry but I thought the idea was to stop climatic change, not bring it on faster.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Interesting how quickly they can get the things done they want done, isn’t it? Unity Task Force on Climate Change doesn’t explicitly mean stopping it, just that they “believe in” climate change (because they’re the ones causing it.)

  2. jefemt

    Our state population has grown in the last decade to the extent we will have a second House representative in 2022.
    Among the crop of main-stream two-party candidates are a former inside-the-beltway consultant lobbyist, a wingnut state legislator rad-right fundamentalist Aryan type from the Northwest part of the state, and former super-hero Navy Seal (orp orp orp) / industry toady Ryan Zinke.

    On the US Senate side, we have ‘good-guy’ actual farmer Jon Tester, who has been fingered as one of Exxon-Mobil’s go-to guys, along with our other senator, Steve ‘no-spine grifter-supreme’ Daines.
    Exxon’s list is short, and although we produce little (relatively) natural gas or oil in Montana, we have TWO Senators on the list. Impressive!! Montana must have a lower cost-basis for acquiring influence?

    Between this article & Biden facts on the ground, Ian Welsh’s depressing article on ‘making a difference on slowing Climate change’ that was linked yesterday, I am in a fine fettle!

    Why vote? I couldn’t vote for Trump 2020, and for the first time ever actually voted for the Dem candidate, instead of the Green party, as I really thought and still believe Trump to be the greater evil.
    What a perversion… voting for the lesser of two evils. My USA USA USA Kool-aid vat is drier than the western US.

    I can’t stomach the Pledge of Allegiance— which I endured yesterday as I Zoomed our county commission meeting yesterday to carp about a 227% proposed increase in my property taxes.
    If it goes through, the T & I portion of my house payment will exceed the P & I portion.
    I mentioned I was hoping my wages and those of my working class neighbors and Social security victim retirees would go up 227%!!
    I woke up in the middle of the night stewing recognizing that even if I wanted to leave the house to the kids, that they, on their wages-on-fire!! wages, would never be able to afford the property taxes, even if I get the house paid off and owned free and clear.

    Rape culture. Living The Dream. :(

    I apologize for the whine… really has been an exhausting, long battle the past couple of years, physically and more so mentally. My head and heart go out to all, who I know are enduring battles of their own.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I have lost hope that anything will be done to slow the rate that irreplaceable resources are wasted and used up. I have lost hope that anything will be done to address Climate Chaos. In fact greatly fear some of the schemes that might be tried to accomplish ‘geoengineering’. I have been in Ian Welsh’s camp the last few years, and I have seen and expect nothing to change that dark conclusion.

  3. James Simpson

    “So what Biden promise did you choose to believe?” None, but then I’m a British socialist. I was disgusted by the urging of Noam Chomsky et al for voters to choose Biden over any socialist or Green candidate – and now Chomsky claims that he’s appalled by Biden’s actions in power. Choose a capitalist, get a capitalist.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’m noticing a lot of people and orgs who told us we had to vote Biden and then push him left are now shocked, Shocked!, that he’s exactly who the rest of us said he was. Sooooo guys, you all said he could be pushed him left. When’s that starting? What’s the plan? The outrage tweeting is getting old.

    2. Thomas Neuburger

      James, do you have a link for Chomsky backing away from Biden?



    3. LowellHighlander

      Yes. Just as the vast majority of Americans would sooner let the bombs keep falling on innocents abroad before they’ll vote outside the duopoly, the vast majority of Americans would sooner risk global catastrophe before voting for candidates from the Green Party or Socialist Party(ies). But this is not to forget the Establishment’s role in creating this situation: I can remember when Ralph Nader, who received a ticket for the nationally televised presidential debate (for the general election) being held at Boston University, was blocked from entering by cops (campus cops, I think).

      I certainly have written so many checks to help candidates standing outside the duopoly that I don’t want to think how much I could have saved and put towards pressing personal needs like credit card debt. [This is over and above major changes in my life, such as giving up car ownership over 25 years ago, or purposely keeping the furnace off when I’m the only one home in winter.] All I can do is to take comfort in knowing that, when my time comes, I’ll be able to look my nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews in the eye and tell them how hard I tried to help avert this catastrophe. Small comfort [to them], I know.

  4. James Simpson

    Meanwhile, the purportedly leftish Guardian here in the UK continues its worship:

    A Biden administration plan to force the rapid uptake of renewable energy would swiftly cut planet-heating emissions and save hundreds of thousands of lives from deadly air pollution, a new report has found amid growing pressure on the White House to deliver a major blow against the climate crisis.

    Of various climate policy options available to the new administration, a clean energy standard would provide the largest net benefits to the US, according to the report, in terms of costs as well as lives saved.

  5. megrim

    ‘She touts its potential to a virtual conference for oil and gas executives, saying, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that you can’t get to net-zero carbon emissions without carbon capture, utilization and storage. We are excited about that.”’

    Let’s take the statement that carbon capture is required to get to net-zero emissions (how I hate this phrase) at face value. What exactly is exciting about this?

    1. Brian L.

      “What exactly is exciting about this?”

      It’s a great opportunity to swindle billions, of course!

  6. Jason Boxman

    On the existential question of our time, Biden is more of the same. Whatever few good things this administration might do — one year of child tax credits! — is handily outweighed by this. Even the efforts on monopoly and business concentration are a day late and a dollar short, given the climate emergency. And they can’t even get the pandemic response right.

  7. Timothy Dutra, MD, PhD

    It’s about greed, quarterly reports, and short-term profits. It’s really sad when there is no doubt whatsoever that things are going to get really bad really fast. The three horsemen of our apocalypse will be the positive feedback of loss of polar albedo, CO2 from rotting melted tundra/permafrost, and arctic continental shelf methane hydrates.

  8. John

    Nothing of any consequence will be undertaken on the climate front. Why? Because markets. Attend to what you can to mitigate the effects and expect nothing from government and certainly not from the profit-ridden sector.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . the profit-ridden sector is merely a battlefield where different forces wage economic mortal kombat.

      Farmer Gabe Brown ( what, again?) sells his range-and-pasture beef for a profit. That’s part of how he stays in business. So he is part of the profit-ridden-sector. But if his operation net-net bio-sequesters more carbon in the soil under his operation than all aspects of his operation release into the air, then his profit equals a modest amount of skycarbon reduction.

      So it depends on what little parts of the profit-ridden sector you interact with as to whether your life-support and life-living functions emit more carbon than they sequester, or sequester more carbon than they emit.

      Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

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