President-elect Joe Biden has made it no secret he plans to be a champion for climate change and the environment, with his nearly $2 trillion climate plan.
In his debate with Donald Trump on Oct. 22, Biden stated, “I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” citing climate change as one of his top priorities.
Biden’s campaign promises and words said along the campaign trail do not seem to be lining up with everything he’s been doing post-election, walking back comments from his debate in October.
As he builds his administration and team, it’s been reported that the White House’s liaison to climate movement reportedly will be Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is meant to help advance the Biden administration’s legislative agenda on climate change.
Richmond has received nearly $350,000 from oil and gas donors, and voting to help oil and gas companies, notably voting against Democratic legislation to place pollution limits on fracking.
Biden, of course, has stated he will not ban fracking, nor could he.
By stating all the measures he’ll take to combat climate change, Biden has certainly raised a few eyebrows by hiring a fossil fuel ally and beneficiary in Richmond.
Biden also came under fire in 2019 for attending a campaign fundraiser co-hosted by Andrew Goldman, co-founder of Western LNG, a Houston-based natural gas production and transportation company.
One of Biden’s climate advisors is Heather Zichal, who served on the board of Cheniere Energy, a company primarily engaged in LNG-related businesses. Cheniere Energy has been a regular donor to Republican politicians, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There is also the concern Biden will scrap Keystone XL, though it’s entirely possible the entire project sees fruition, for Biden would undermine a lot of U.S. investment in exports, and it could impact their global competitiveness, as well as the relationship with Canada if Biden indeed axes the project.
Canada, who remains hopeful about the pipeline, is keeping a watchful eye on what the Biden administration plans to do with Keystone, particularly Alberta, who has made significant investments in the pipeline, with construction well underway.
In light of Biden’s decision to name John Kerry as a special adviser on climate, both TC Energy and Canada have made significant innovations in regards to cutting emissions that could show Biden and Kerry how beneficial this project could be.
Biden has promised to eliminate federal subsidies to the oil industry, with the aim to have net-zero emissions by 2050, and has been clear about entering the Paris accord as soon as he can.
It’s not to be forgotten that as former vice-president to Barack Obama, Biden was a part of the administration that presided over-rapid expansion of U.S. oil and gas, becoming the world’s No. 1 producer.
Perhaps one of the biggest boosts for the struggling industry is to see the pandemic get under control, where Biden will have his hands full. The pandemic has significantly reduced global travel, which has contributed to a decrease in oil demand.
As we move towards the end of 2020 and Biden’s team prepares for his inauguration in January 2021, he could likely face resistance of his plans in the form of the Republican party and its control of the senate, and myriad conservative judges across the country appointed by President Trump.
There is hope and optimism in the U.S. oil and gas industry that there will be room for compromise and finding a middle ground and that Biden’s victory should not be seen as a death knell for the industry.