Biden’s oil comments ignite the debate on energy production

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden unleashed a firestorm in energy circles when he said in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that the United States will need oil “for at least another decade.”

Republicans in the House chamber laughed in derision at Biden’s off-the-cuff remark, which was not in his scripted speech. GOP lawmakers accused the Democratic president of refusing to accept reality and of “living in a green hallucination,” as Montana Sen. Steve Daines put it.

“President Biden implied tonight that America won’t be producing oil beyond the next decade. If you believe him, you’ve missed a lot and you’re living in a dream world. God help America,” Senator Lindsey Graham said , RS.C. a chirp.

But environmentalists and some Democrats have backed Biden, saying the United States needs a plan to get rid of oil and other fossil fuels — the sooner the better.

“I think the president is right,” said Collin Rees, a senior campaigner for the green group Oil Change International. “We can’t keep pretending we’re reducing (greenhouse gas) emissions without tackling oil production, and that means phasing out fossil fuels.”

“If we are to save our future, we need a transition away from dirty, expensive and deadly fossil fuels, and we need to speed up, not slow down,” added Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass.

Biden made the comment while touting a landmark law to slow climate change. The law he signed last year — backed only by Democrats — authorizes hundreds of billions of dollars to boost renewable energy like wind and solar power and help consumers buy electric vehicles and energy-efficient appliances.

The law is a key part of Biden’s ambitious effort to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. scenarios.

Phasing out oil within a decade is virtually impossible, said energy analyst Kevin Book.

“I think the White House might want to stage improvisation” before Biden speaks, Book joked Wednesday, adding that no serious analyst believes oil can be completely eliminated within a few years.

“We rely on oil and gas for 85 to 90 percent of our energy for transportation,” he said. EVs, while growing in popularity, account for less than 6% of new car sales in the United States.

Even the US government agrees that oil and gas will likely be needed for decades to come. The Energy Information Administration, a research and statistical branch of the Department of Energy, projects that energy use in the United States will increase over the next 30 years as population and economic growth outpaces energy efficiency gains.

Oil and natural gas are likely to remain the nation’s largest energy sources through 2050, the EIA said in a report last year, although renewables such as wind and solar power are the fastest growing. .

The White House said Biden’s comments were in line with statements he and other administration officials had made earlier that the United States is in the midst of an energy transition and will continue to need oil. .

“We are very clear that fossil fuels will remain in the mix of the globe’s energy system for years to come,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a 2022 remark quoted by the White House.

Ironically, Biden’s comment came as he tried to reassure critics that he recognizes the need for continued oil production. “We’re still going to need oil and gas for a while,” Biden said, before adding the 10-year time frame in a later off-the-cuff remark.

After GOP lawmakers laughed, Biden quickly replied, “And beyond that. We’re going to need it.”

Biden’s message to the oil industry — “Stay in business, we need you today” — was the right one, “but his units were down,” Book said. “She was giving a 10-year life expectancy to 50-year assets.”

Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said Biden “could have used his #SOTU speech to unite America. Instead, he again criticized American corporations that employ millions of Americans, pay taxes, and supply the world with energy. US oil and natural gas producers, carriers and refiners deserve better.”

Ben Jealous, executive director of the Sierra Club, said expanding oil and gas production and extending the lifespan of fossil fuel infrastructure such as refineries “would only exacerbate the climate crisis, further boosting their profits.” company that President Biden has rightly criticized ” in the State of the Union.

“What we need is to double our investments to transition fairly from legacy fuels to clean energy,” said Jealous.

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