President Biden has quickly and dramatically reset the priorities of the federal government. On his first day in office he sent a clear message to the American people: pursuing radical environmental policies matters more to him than helping poor and working-class families.
Just hours after entering the White House, Biden signed 17 executive actions into law, including an order to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and another to revoke the construction permit needed to continue work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Both actions will have far-reaching and tremendously harmful economic consequences for nearly all Americans, but especially those living paycheck to paycheck. That’s because energy costs and basic consumer goods make up a greater proportion of household spending for low-income families than for those earning more.
By reentering the Paris Climate Agreement, Biden has pledged that by 2030 the U.S. will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30% below 2005 levels — a reduction that will require shutting down numerous existing power plants, as well as oil, natural gas, and coal operations.
Hitting this target, which is actually quite modest compared to the other targets included in Biden’s full climate platform, would have an incredibly detrimental impact on the economy, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and raising energy prices to sky-high levels.
The reason reentering the Paris Climate Agreement is so harmful to the economy is because the Biden administration aims to meet the Paris targets by requiring Americans to rely more on new wind and solar energy facilities, which are less reliable and much more expensive than existing energy sources.
The Heritage Foundation’s Nick Loris estimates that if the United States were to meet the targets contained in the Paris Climate Agreement, the average American family of four would, over two decades, pay $30,000 more in higher energy costs — which is about as much as many people pay for a new car.
These higher costs are particularly harmful to low-income families. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that "research has indicated that low-income households decrease the amount of food they buy in response to an increase in prices for gasoline, natural gas, and electricity."
Loris also estimates the U.S. economy will have 400,000 fewer jobs, about half of which are related to manufacturing.
Because energy prices affect virtually every part of the economy, nearly every business will be harmed by Biden’s energy policies.
Loris projects the total gross domestic product lost by attempting to hit the Paris targets would be greater than $2.5 trillion — and again, that’s just to meet the Paris goals, not the Biden administration’s much more ambitious target of having the entire U.S. electric grid be 100% carbon dioxide-neutral by 2035.
No one knows how many of the roughly 1.5 million American families with someone working in the oil and gas industries will still be getting paychecks by the time the Biden administration is done enacting the far-left’s environmental agenda.
In fact, some Americans have already lost important economic opportunities as a result of Biden’s climate and energy plans.
After word got out that the Biden administration decided to kill the Keystone XL project — an expansion of a pipeline bringing oil from Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries — TC Energy, the firm working to construct the pipeline, announced it will lay off 1,000 workers.
By stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, the Biden administration also killed more than 10,000 union jobs expected to be created throughout the pipeline’s development, as well as tens of thousands of additional jobs related to the project.
All told, TC Energy projects the construction of the pipeline would "support nearly 60,000 (U.S., 42,000 and Canada, 17,000) direct, indirect and induced employment opportunities generated by the business that will be created supplying goods and services to the project and the project’s workforce."
In stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, President Biden likely made history. I can find no record of another American president who so willingly and deliberately destroyed more than 40,000 job opportunities on his first day in office, never mind shutting down a project expected to result in billions of dollars in new economic opportunities.
Many of these jobs were expected to be union jobs, which is why many labor unions supported construction of the pipeline. This makes Biden’s action even more astounding, since he presented himself on the campaign trail as a champion of union laborers.
Biden has justified his environmental policies by repeatedly claiming they are needed to battle climate change, which he says presents an "existential threat" to human life. That’s a totally ridiculous assertion unsupported by the available scientific evidence.
But even if you believe carbon dioxide emissions are the primary driver of climate change and that climate change is going to be catastrophic to life on Earth — a position held by only a minority of U.S. voters — it’s important to keep in mind that numerous reports have found that the Keystone XL pipeline would have no substantial impact on global carbon dioxide emissions.
Even the Obama administration’s own State Department concluded in five separate reports that carbon dioxide emissions would not increase because of the pipeline.
Worse still, there’s no evidence that cutting U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would reduce global temperature in the long run. This is true regardless of what you believe about the role carbon dioxide emissions play in causing global warming. That’s because many of the world’s largest emitters are projected to increase their use of energy sources that produce substantial amounts of carbon dioxide emissions from coal and other sources over the next few decades to more than offset any cuts made in the United States.
China, for example, "has nearly 250 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power now under development, more than the entire coal power capacity of the United States," according to a June report by Reuters.
Why, then, was Biden so eager to eliminate billions of dollars in new economic development and tens of thousands of new jobs? And why are the new president and his administration working so hard to promote policies that will lead to higher energy prices that will hurt the poor most of all?
The only reasonable explanation is that pleasing the far-left wing of the Democratic Party —which seems more than willing to dismantle as many jobs as it takes to push the country toward costly and unreliable wind and solar energy — is more important to Biden than the interests of low-income and working-class Americans.
It’s a sad assertion, to be sure, but it is the only conceivable explanation for the reckless actions of President Biden in just his first week in office.