The Biden climate legacy: American weakness

Since Joe Biden was inaugurated, he has undermined our sound energy policy and our national security. Emboldened adversaries are a predictable consequence of American weakness, and President Biden’s anti-American energy policy has contributed to this weakness.

But it’s about to get worse. Last year, Democrats rammed through their so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA), the stated goal of which is to supercharge the energy “transition” at the core of President Biden’s radical climate agenda. This energy transition from affordable, available, and reliable American energy is the wrong policy at the wrong time.

A new report from the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources illustrates how the IRA moves the United States from energy independence to energy and mineral dependence on China, Russia, and OPEC. An energy transition dependent on dictators and despots is not what America needs, especially now. The same report documents the massive sums of money taxpayers will spend for the privilege of making America weaker and our adversaries stronger.

This administration’s raid on America’s strategic oil stockpile, now at a 40-year low, shows a willingness to put politics before national security. The IRA does the same. The administration is preparing to funnel hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to politically-connected “green” industries that cannot survive without massive government handouts. An energy transition dependent on dictators and despots is not what America needs, especially now.

As with the 2009 Obama-Biden stimulus, influential lobbyists and donors are already lining up to market their access to the administration’s check writers. Yesterday, we sent a series of questions to Jigar Shah, Director of the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office. A public report indicated that the firm Shah founded — Cleantech Leaders Roundtable — is acting as a “gatekeeper” and offering preferential access to Shah. One senior Cleantech official leads a company that has already been approved for a $3 billion partial loan guarantee.

This appears to be a conflict of interest. It’s an unacceptable use of taxpayer money. But it’s exactly what we can expect from the Democrats’ IRA.

Since becoming law last year, we’ve learned that the IRA’s energy and climate provisions alone will cost about $1.2 trillion—$750 billion more than advertised. Such massive spending will worsen inflation and recklessly add to the $33 trillion national debt.

We can’t afford that.

The IRA gambles with hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. Due to the IRA, the Department of Energy’s loan authority is now a staggering $350 billion, nine times higher than its current loan portfolio.

Yet this is to be expected from Joe Biden, who has a pitiful track record of protecting American tax dollars. As vice president in 2009, he personally announced the award of loan guarantees to a politically-connected solar company, Solyndra. The announcement’s fanfare quickly turned into a $500 million mistake when the company failed spectacularly.

Joe Biden’s judgment hasn’t gotten any better as president. In 2022, DOE selected at least two Chinese-connected companies for financial awards. This is alarming, yet it is not surprising. The Biden Administration welcomes Chinese companies as “big players” in renewable and electric vehicle markets. The administration also said that it is “perfectly happy” to work with China on electric vehicles.

American taxpayer dollars should never be used to strengthen China.

It’s not just financial awards that are concerning. Shocking as it may seem, the energy “transition” in the IRA will reposition the United States away from the fuels and technologies we dominate and toward those China controls.

China is executing a strategic plan to control the very energy supply chains that Democrats want to force on all of us. Chinese companies have dominated wind turbine, solar panel, and battery production for many years. More recently, China became the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles. Its startling rapid growth in EVs is fast becoming an existential threat to American auto companies.

China also controls the supply chains for many of the key minerals EV technologies require. Yet the administration has worked aggressively to block mining of these same minerals here at home. Even with more domestic mining, converting the U.S. auto fleet to EVs would mean importing massive amounts of critical minerals from China-backed companies.

Contrast that prospect with America’s recent dominance of global oil, gas, and coal production. President Biden and Congressional Democrats are actively surrendering America’s economic and geopolitical advantage.

Let’s be clear about what this means: It means dependence on our adversaries for our energy. It means U.S. businesses and workers being held hostage to the whims of our adversaries.

We cannot surrender our energy security to our adversaries. Yet that is exactly what the Democrats’ reckless policies will do.

It’s time to repeal the IRA and return to what works. Americans deserve an all-of-the-above, pro-American energy strategy. That’s not just good for America, it’s also good for the world.

John Barrasso is Senior Senator from the State of Wyoming and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. She represents Washington state’s 5th Congressional District.