Joe Biden had long promised to become the climate president, and on Wednesday he detailed far-ranging plans to shift the U.S. away from fossil fuels, create millions of jobs in renewable energy, and conserve vast swaths of public lands and water.
“It’s not time for small measures,” Biden said at the White House, adding that the nation had already wasted precious years as it delayed in dealing with the climate crisis.
But as he detailed his plans, the gas, oil and coal industries were already mobilizing on all fronts. From an oil patch in Alaska to state capitals to the halls of Congress, the industries and their allies are aiming to slow Biden’s unprecedented push for climate action and keep profits from fossil fuels flowing. Republican attorneys general from six states wrote to the new president, warning him not to overstep his authority. GOP lawmakers attacked his executive orders as “job killers.” And the petroleum industry revived television ads promoting drilling on federal lands.
At the same time, the oil and gas industry has suffered a series of recent economic setbacks. Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics, noted these companies accounted for 28 percent of the U.S. stock market in 1980, but just 2.3 percent of it as of this month.
“The oil industry doesn’t have a plan for its future. They want to drill wherever they want, whenever they want,” Sanzillo said. “What Biden is doing is saying, ‘We need to reduce the supply, because the industry is not doing it.’”
[Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis]