Written by Kevin Mooney for RealClearWire
Biden’s claims about oil industry speculation ring hollow.
In the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, American voters will have the opportunity to decide whether oil industry executives are really to blame for high energy prices, or whether it is the political class that needs a reshuffle.
In a new report for Real Clear Energy, career management consultant Joseph Toomey makes a compelling case that the energy inflation now victimizing American consumers and taxpayers is the result of deliberate public policy choices made here at home. Even as President Biden vilifies energy companies, the evidence is overwhelming that the current regime in Washington is beholden to climate extremism at the expense of affordable energy, Toomey argues.
As Toomey explains, Biden is poised to create a new industry of climate activists that will use the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a conduit to restrict private enterprise for the ostensible purpose of achieving “net zero” carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, regulators at the president’s EPA are doubling down on biofuel blending mandates, known collectively as the Renewable Fuel Standard, a byproduct of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The onerous new rules impose retroactive compliance requirements for a two year period. They are just the latest anti-energy initiatives from the Biden administration. Recall that the president canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline on his first day in office and placed a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas on federal land just days later. And Toomey documents a host of other choices that have put American politics in the hands of “anti-energy fanatics.”
Or consider two key Biden appointees: John Kerry, the administration’s climate envoy, and Gina McCarthy, chief climate adviser, who served as EPA administrator under Barack Obama. Kerry has been a longtime supporter of the Paris Climate Agreement, a UN deal designed to put the United States last and China first. McCarthy, who recently left the White House, is a former president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group with close ties to China.
Look for statements from the White House criticizing China’s environmental record and you won’t find much. Biden managed to express his outrage when Chinese President Xi Jinping refused to participate in the UN climate summit in Glasgow last year. But it hardly compares to the “roughly worded letter” addressed to US energy companies, as Toomey explains, in which Biden harassed companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron for their “historically high profit margins for refining oil into gasoline.”
Biden’s claims about oil industry speculation ring hollow. When he said, for example, that “Exxon made more money than God,” the president neglected to mention that the company had lost $22 billion in 2020, according to Toomey’s report.
A major challenge besetting US industry is the accelerating pace of refinery closures. Various factors have played a role, but especially environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, which, as Toomey points out, have found a home in corporate boardrooms and in the Biden White House. Over the next few months, and into 2024, we’ll see “significant refinery closures,” Toomey warns, in response to ESG-driven anti-carbon initiatives by corporate America.
“These policies will make China the world’s leading refiner for years to come,” Toomey warns, “and that fact doesn’t seem to bother anyone in Washington.”
But it should upset American voters.
The coup de grace for the US oil and gas industry under Biden’s watch may come in the form of a proposed ESG rule that would empower the SEC to force companies to disclose their so-called climate-related risks.
“The SEC’s disclosure rules would give rise to a whole new industry of accountants, lawyers, lobbyists, and consultants who will take on the economically dubious job of counting the emissions intensity of industrial activity,” Toomey argues. “Interestingly, the SEC had already adopted rules in 2010 that required registrants to disclose material climate-related risks in their public income statements and balance sheets.”
Essentially, companies would be forced to weigh the emissions footprints of not only their suppliers, but also various intermediaries, including contractors and customers. In effect, the SEC rule would make it virtually impossible to do business. But the proposed rule has yet to pass, another reason why the November election is important.
Despite the economic turmoil and high energy prices, Toomey doesn’t expect the Biden administration to change course. The environmental activists now calling the shots in the White House want to put the oil and gas industry out of business, all in the name of climate change, he explains, and without regard to the effect on energy consumers. Toomey also suggests that Biden is taking the lead from climate activists who loathe constitutional government.
“To ensure the success of his high energy price agenda, environmental activists are urging Biden to act outside the law and declare a ‘climate emergency,’” he writes. “This would allow the president to bypass the niceties of the regular constitutional order and shut down all oil and gas production.”
That is sobering. Let’s hope voters will choose accordingly in November.
Written by Kevin Mooney. He is an investigative reporter for both the Commonwealth Foundation and the Heritage Foundation.
This article was originally published by RealClearEnergy and is available through RealClearWire.