A recent ABC News headline stated: “Biden administration recommends major Alaska oil project.” The article went on to describe that the Biden administration had released a long-awaited study that would allow a major ConocoPhillips oil development on Alaska’s North Slope, which could produce up to 180,000 barrels per day. Although the study is not a final decision, it is a major step toward giving a green light to the project. A final decision is expected by early March 2023. Not surprisingly, supporters of oil and gas cheered the decision while one environmentalist critically described the decision as releasing a “carbon bomb.” (Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/biden-administration-recommends-oil-drilling-alaska-96830106)
Kristen Miller, conservation Director for Alaska Wilderness League, released the type of statement that you would expect from an environmental group. She said, “ConocoPhillips’ enormous profits should come with a surgeon-general level warning: side effects include wrecking the world’s climate and America’s Arctic. As oil and gas CEOs line their pocketbooks, it is the American people and our climate that pay the price.” She went on to add, “Willow is the wrong project in the wrong place at the absolute wrong time – it would endanger public health, harm wildlife, and threaten the subsistence hunting that sustain local communities.” With regard to her comment on wildlife, the website for Miller’s group specifically mentions the threat to caribou. (Source: https://alaskawild.org/reserve/)
Joe From Texas thought of a couple of points as he read Ms. Miller’s statement. The first point is that environmental groups always suggest a threat to wildlife as one reason to kill any oil and gas drilling project. Although Joe From Texas can’t say that there are no threats to wildlife, he finds it ironic that these same people are usually very much in support of wind power, which is proven to kill wildlife. We never hear them discuss this aspect of wind power though. It is widely known that wind turbines kill vast numbers of birds and bats around the world. Additionally, recent sonic mapping work to prepare for offshore wind farms off the coast of New Jersey is suspected in the deaths of several whales that have perished on nearby beaches. A group called Clean Ocean Action believes there is a connection between the work and the whale deaths and has called for a pause in work until a study can determine whether there is in fact a connection. Meanwhile, local chapters of the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters say talk of a connection is “baseless” and they want work to proceed. In essence, they are saying, “nothing to see here. Our mind is made up that wind turbines generate clean, harmless energy and we must proceed. No time to stop and get the facts.” The rush to judgement of such groups proves their bias. More often than not, they are biased against oil and gas and biased in favor of any project labeled “green” energy. If they would learn to rely on facts, instead of their biases, our nation would greatly benefit. (Sources: https://www.cfact.org/2020/10/23/wind-turbines-take-a-terrible-toll-on-birds/, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/29/whale-deaths-new-jersey-offshore-wind-00079462)
The second point that occurred to Joe From Texas as he read Ms. Miller’s comments, was that it took a lot of hutzpah on her part to talk about the endangerment of public health and to insinuate that “it is the American people and climate that pay the price” as reasons to oppose the Alaska drilling project. The first thought that Joe From Texas had was that the American people certainly are paying a price; however, that price is a consequence of Joe Biden’s policies, which have driven energy prices through the roof, rather than the fault of companies which produce energy. Energy prices, along with the cost of just about everything else in the Joe Biden economy, have eaten into more and more of the paychecks of working families while many of the elites who support these ridiculous policies continue to fly around the world in their private jets.
Ms. Miller’s use of public health is also interesting since it is generally acknowledged by organizations such as The World Bank that there is a link between poverty and poor health. This link illustrates the absurdity of Ms. Miller’s statement about public health because the green policies that she and Joe Biden advocate have driven up energy prices, a major expense for most families, while she opposes a project which has the potential to help lower energy prices by increasing the supply of an energy source upon which we still deeply depend. In testimony before a congressional committee in February 2023, Donna Jackson of Project 21 stated her concerns with those who claim “green” energy is the solution to all of our energy problems. “Environmental justice is not justice because it's creating poverty," she said. "Climate change policy creates a permanent underclass to be controlled by the government." (Sources: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/health/brief/poverty-health, https://afn.net/politics-govt/2023/02/06/house-hearing-hears-plea-that-green-energy-leaving-people-in-poverty/)
All of this brings us back to the question of Joe Biden and where he will land on the ConocoPhillips project in Alaska, because as noted earlier, a final decision on this project has not been issued by his administration. If you google “Joe Biden flip-flops,” you will learn that in addition to being a gaffe machine that has given comedians material for decades, Biden also has a history of reversing himself (or flip-flopping) on a number of issues. He is the consummate “I was for it before I was against it” politician. In May 2022, the Biden administration cancelled a lease sale in the Cook Inlet area of Alaska citing a lack of industry interest. A CBS news story at the time revealed that Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a supporter of oil and gas production and of that particular project, was not buying their explanation. "Citing a 'lack of industry interest' is nothing more than fantasy from an administration that shuns U.S. energy production,” said Murkowski. "I can say with full certainty, based on conversations as recently as last night, that Alaska's industry does have interest in lease sales in Cook Inlet. To claim otherwise is simply false, not to mention stunningly short-sighted.” (Sources: https://www.businessinsider.com/joe-biden-flip-flopping-key-policy-issues-2019-6?op=1, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-alaska-oil-gas-lease-sale-canceled/)
The Joe Biden who cancelled the lease sale last year is the same Joe Biden who, as a candidate in 2020, said he wanted to shut down the oil industry because “it pollutes.” His actions regarding domestic production to this point have been in line with these statements. However, there is also the Joe Biden who last year begged the Saudi government to increase oil production in an effort to lower gas prices leading into the midterm elections. When that effort failed, he approached the thug dictator in Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, to discuss easing U.S. sanctions in return for oil. What these actions tell us is that Joe Biden does not appear to be that concerned about oil and gas as long as it is produced in other countries rather than in the United States. (Sources: https://thefederalist.com/2020/10/22/joe-biden-finally-admitted-he-wants-to-end-the-oil-industry/, https://www.newsweek.com/biden-admin-venezuela-oil-sparks-bipartisan-backlash-nicolas-maduro-1685866)
So, does the recent release of the study signaling that the ConocoPhillips project may be approved constitute a policy reversal by Joe Biden and his administration? The short answer is that we don’t yet know because, as noted earlier, the release of the study is not a final decision on whether to permit the project. Even if the decision on the project ends up being favorable, this will not necessarily mean that Biden is changing his position on domestic oil and gas production. Instead, it could mean that the Biden administration cannot legally find a way to deny the permit for this project, which has been the subject of a prior court battle. (Source: https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/conocophillips-cop-to-proceed-with-the-willow-oil-project-2021-11-19)
On the other hand, a favorable decision on this project really could be a signal that Biden is finally realizing that his policy of trying to wipe out domestic oil and gas production at this time is a mistake. Joe From Texas has repeatedly made the case in posts on his website that we can, and should, aggressively seek to produce oil and gas at home while at the same time exploring alternative energy sources. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. Let’s hope that Joe Biden has finally come around to adopt the common-sense approach of another Joe, Joe From Texas.