David Blackmon, Forbes | May 24th, 2022President Joe Biden took some heat on Monday for saying the quiet part of the energy transition out loud. At a press conference following a meeting in Japan with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the President seemed to frankly admit that high gasoline and diesel prices are just part of the overall plan for the transition to renewables.
“[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over,” Biden said. It was a mistake since, although running prices for fossil fuel-generated energy higher has always been part of the plan for Biden’s Green New Deal energy policies, admitting it aloud in public was not supposed to be part of the messaging.
The President’s latest gaffe comes as his polling numbers continue to plumb previously unseen depths as they proceed in their inverse relationship to the ever-rising price for gasoline at the pump. After admitting that high energy costs are an integral part of making the transition work, Mr. Biden then seemed to realize his rhetorical mistake, insisting that his administration’s policies have not made the problem of rising prices worse. Thus, he was back on message.
But the message is at odds with administration policy. Even as Biden corrected himself, his Securities and Exchange Commission is about to issue a new regulation governing ESG-related disclosures that is designed to further restrict energy companies’ access to capital markets. His Federal Energy Regulatory Commission continues to stall issuing permits for new interstate pipelines. His Energy Department continues to impede progress and permitting for new LNG export facilities despite his commitment to ramp up U.S. LNG exports to Europe in the coming years. His Department of Interior just cancelled three more federal lease sales and continues to offer lame excuses for interminable delays in publishing a new 5-year plan.
Mr. Biden’s rhetoric says he’s helping, but the actions of his government prove otherwise each and every day.
The President then resorted back to relating his favorite fable related to gas prices. “The price of gas at the pump is something that I told you — you heard me say before — it would be a matter of great discussion at my kitchen table when I was a kid growing up,” Biden said. “It’s affecting a lot of families.”
It’s a story he’s told a thousand times across his 50-year career in national politics. But it seems doubtful that the price of gas was ever really a major topic of discussion at the dinner table in the Biden household, given that, from the time of his birth until he turned 20 in 1962, the average national price for gasoline in the U.S. varied from 21 cents to all of 30 cents per gallon.
Of course, during those price-stable years the governments of the world were not attempting to replace high-density sources of energy like oil, natural gas and coal with low-density sources like wind and solar. If ultimately successful, this would indeed qualify as an “incredible” kind of transition, since no transition of its sort - one that defies the laws of thermodynamics - has ever been attempted or achieved by mankind.
Perhaps that reality is starting to sink into the President’s mind, since his statement did not talk about “replacing” fossil fuel energy with renewables, but instead expressed his hope that the “world will be ... less reliant on fossil fuels.” Achieving that certainly would seem a more reasonable, though still difficult, goal. After all, despite the spending of trillions of dollars by Western governments in this century to heavily subsidize the development of renewables, they have thus far been unable to truly reduce the world’s fossil fuel consumption.
President Biden has reportedly been telling people around him recently that he fully intends to run for re-election in 2024, when he will be 82 years old. If he wants to win that re-election bid, he would be well-advised to stop saying the quiet part about this “incredible transition” out loud.