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Op-Ed

Harsanyi: Instead of Threatening Energy Companies, There's 1 Simple Thing Biden Should Do

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Democrats have spent decades warning that the U.S. must stop using the most efficient and affordable energy sources or it will be consumed by heat waves, fireballs and cataclysmic weather events.

Every flood, every hurricane — every natural event, really — is now blamed on climate change. We have burdened our children with an irrational dread over their future. Then again, many in the cult of Malthus won’t even have children.

So why, if we’re on the precipice of this apocalypse, if saving the planet trumps every other concern, is President Joe Biden begging everyone to drill?

On the days Democrats aren’t blaming Vladimir Putin for rising gas prices (a cost the president not long ago argued was worth paying for “freedom”), they’re blaming oil companies for profiteering. On Wednesday, as the national average hit $5.014 (nearly $2 higher than last year), Biden sent letters to refining companies threatening to once again abuse his executive powers if they do not immediately alleviate high prices — a political appeal to the imaginary “greedflation.”

Biden, who promised a 100 percent “clean energy” economy with “net-zero emissions” in a couple of decades, now demands energy companies, already at utilization rates above 90 percent, invest tens of billions more in new drilling infrastructure, when everyone knows that tomorrow, when prices recede, Democrats are going to go right back to passing laws and regulations that undercut their business.

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Today, Democrats demand CEOs spend more; tomorrow, they will promise to “hold oil executives accountable” and drag them in front of congressional committees where they will be scolded by economically illiterate windbags.

That future is baked into today’s price because Democrats’ energy policy is a schizophrenic mess, oscillating from puerile to pernicious. You can’t spend decades working to undercut production and campaign on the promise of destroying an industry and then ask it to turn on a dime when it’s politically convenient.

Democrats will argue that this is a unique emergency as prices have spiked to historic highs. Guess what? Energy prices will always be at historic highs when you create shortages, which is exactly what progressives have been advocating we do for years.

Virtually every left-wing energy proposal in the past two decades, if not longer, has been designed to create false scarcity, either through fabricated marketplaces and stringent regulations or by putting caps on production. This is what they wanted.

Is Biden to blame for high gas prices?

“No more drilling on federal lands,” Biden promised during the 2020 presidential campaign. “No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period.”

And, on the first day of his presidency, Biden rejoined the Paris agreement — an accord he is now working hard to break — revoking permits for Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that was going to carry approximately 800,000 barrels of oil a day into the U.S.

Biden signed a slew of executive orders prioritizing climate change over energy production, halting oil and natural gas leases on all public lands. When a court blocked him, the Biden administration appealed the decision, even as indications of an energy spike were clear.

Rather than threatening price controls, the president should just rescind all his executive orders.

Of course, until some new technology is devised, implementing any policy that resembles the Green New Deal — the plan Biden says is the “framework” for his own efforts on “environmental justice” — would bring approximately the same economic consequences as having coronavirus economic shutdowns for 30 years straight.

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Last year, with inflation already looming, Biden preached that it was a “moral imperative” to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. That’s a policy that will have us fondly reminiscing about $5.00 a gallon.

Energy policy can’t be capriciously implemented and then abandoned every time the Democrats’ poll numbers flail.

This is just a little taste of the Green New Deal. There is no sentient being that could accept the notion that Democrats are in favor of abundant fossil fuels.

Hopefully, the price of their policies is so politically severe that they will moderate. Because we all have unattainable dreams.

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