Is Biden’s Oil Transition Debate Claim Really a ‘Big Statement’?
During the climate change segment of the presidential candidate debate last night, President Donald Trump goaded his opponent former Vice-President Joe Biden with the question,”Would you close down the oil industry?” Biden responded, “I would transition from the oil industry. Yes.” Trump immediately interrupted crowing, “That’s a big statement.” Biden agreed that it was a “big statement,” and added, “Well if you let me finish the statement, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time, and I’d stopped giving to the oil industry, I’d stop giving them federal subsidies.”
Trump retorted, “In terms of business, it’s the biggest statement.” Why? “Because basically what he’s saying that he’s going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma. Ohio?,” asked the president.
When given a chance by the moderator to respond, Biden declared, “He takes everything out of context, but the point is, look, we have to move toward net zero emissions. The first place to do that by the year 2035 is in energy production, by 2050 totally.”
In this case, Biden was essentially summarizing his plan to respond to man-made climate change by phasing out the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity in the U.S. by 2035 followed by a complete transition to non-carbon dioxide emitting energy sources by 2050. Concerned that voters would be alarmed by Trump’s insinuation that Biden intends to “destroy” the oil industry imminently the Democratic presidential candidate later that night told reporters, “We’re getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time.”
Getting rid of government subsidies is always a worthy project, but just how much money is supposedly being lavished on the oil industry? An August policy brief by the Breakthrough Institute* trenchantly observes that “ending fossil fuel subsidies won’t end fossil fuels.” Citing an estimate from the Resources for the Future think tank, the policy brief notes “that the federal government subsidizes fossil fuel extraction to the tune of about $4.9 billion a year. That’s not chump ch
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