A Speech Biden Should No Longer Give


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At long last, it’s time to prioritize affordable energy.​

James Freeman
June 27, 2022 5:20 pm ET

The White House staff probably won’t be walking back Sunday’s remarks by President Joe Biden, but it’s time for the administration to retire a set of talking points that have grown awfully stale. That’s because even the most ardent backers of alternative energy are recognizing that the world has changed.

A recent Journal editorial noted the begrudging acceptance of the need for fossil fuels among German politicians. These days reality is starting to spread all over Europe. The Washington Post reported last week:

Austria, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands announced plans this week to prepare to resurrect old coal plants as gas supplies dwindled. The moves came just days after Moscow reduced natural gas flows to several European countries, including Italy and Slovakia, alarming leaders who are worried about energy reserves ahead of winter.
Yet while recent events have reminded people all over the world of the need for cheap and abundant energy, a visitor to the continent this week continues to promote inefficient power projects. At the famous Schloss Elmau in Krün, Germany, on Sunday evening, President Joe Biden said:
We need worldwide effort to invest in transformative clean energy projects to ensure that critical infrastructure is resilient to changing climate.
Critical materials that are necessary for our clean energy transition, including the production of batteries, need to be developed with high standards for labor and the environment.
Fast and reliable transportation infrastructure, including railroads and ports, is essential to moving inputs for refining and processing and expanding access to clean energy technologies.
For example, the U.S. government just facilitated a new partnership between two American firms and the government of Angola to invest $2 billion in building new solar projects in Angola. It’s a partnership that will help Angola meet its climate goals and energy needs while creating new markets for American technologies and good jobs in Angola and, I suspect, throughout Africa.
But throughout Africa—not to mention among American taxpayers—there are many people who understand that expensive and unreliable solar power is not the path to prosperity. Bjorn Lomborg recently wrote in these pages:

The developed world’s response to the global energy crisis has put its hypocritical attitude toward fossil fuels on display. Wealthy countries admonish developing ones to use renewable energy. Last month the Group of Seven went so far as to announce they would no longer fund fossil-fuel development abroad. Meanwhile, Europe and the U.S. are begging Arab nations to expand oil production...
The developed world became wealthy through the pervasive use of fossil fuels, which still overwhelmingly power most of its economies...
Yet the world’s rich are trying to choke off funding for new fossil fuels in developing countries. An estimated 3.5 billion of the world’s poorest people have no reliable access to electricity. Rather than give them access to the tools that have helped rich nations develop, wealthy countries blithely instruct developing nations to skip coal, gas and oil, and go straight to a green nirvana of solar panels and wind turbines.
Mr. Lomborg also helpfully pointed out the comments of Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, recently quoted by the financial publication Nairametrics:

Justifying the case for a wholly African plan and vision on Climate Change, the Vice President said, “no country in the world has been able to industrialize using renewable energy and we (Africa) have been asked to industrialize using renewable energy when everybody else in the world knows that we need gas-powered industries for business.
“We need to have investments in fossil fuels. we need energy access for development. I am sure the force of the logic will make it inevitable for African leaders to see that it is actually the way to go.
“We actually need to create room for investments, not just in natural gas for export, but for cooking and for industry. So, I think that the sheer force of the logic of using gas to benefit our communities will make it inevitable for us to invest in fossil fuels.”
Can the force of Mr. Osinbajo’s logic penetrate the White House?

Team Biden has yet another opportunity to encourage the development of plentiful energy supplies here in the U.S. The Washington Post’s Joshua Partlow reports “the administration is weighing a proposal by ConocoPhillips for the next major phase in Arctic oil exploration.” It’s called the Willow project and Mr. Partlow adds:

A ConocoPhillips official last year told investors that the Willow infrastructure could ultimately help unlock 3 billion barrels of oil — far more than the 586 million barrels that the Bureau of Land Management used to evaluate its climate impact.
Willow, the company said in an accompanying slide presentation, will be “the next great Alaska hub.”
Here’s hoping that Mr. Osinbajo’s logic will prevail from Alaska to Angola, and everywhere in between.