Washington’s Failure to Confront Climate Change

THOUSANDS HAVE DIED in the past few weeks because of unprecedented heat that has afflicted most of the world — and there’s little that Washington can do about it.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT has suffered a stunning collapse, with President Biden reduced to declaring a “climate emergency” in the next few days. Like most of his initiatives, there are internal divisions at the White House — and a declaration of an emergency will have little impact.

THE AMERICAN PUBLIC is more concerned over gasoline prices and inflation than climate change. Sen. Joe Manchin gets this, and every Republican in the 50-50 Senate is opposed to major new environmental initiatives.

JUST AS BIDEN WAS SLOW to react to the Supreme Court abortion ruling, he’s still wrestling with provisions that might be included if he declares a climate emergency.

BIDEN MAY CALL for banning U.S. energy exports and ending oil and gas drilling in the outer continental shelf, but the Supreme Court has made it clear — in its landmark West Virginia v EPA ruling — that policymaking by executive order will face aggressive litigation. And funding for projects like electric vehicles has been crippled by the Manchin revolt in the Senate.

THE GLOBAL OUTLOOK ISN’T ENCOURAGING, as Western Europe faces a long cold winter if Russia curtails natural gas exports; U.S. shipments of LNG will be constrained by infrastructure problems in Germany and other European countries. Vladimir Putin is in no rush to negotiate an end of the Ukrainian war, which will keep upward pressure on energy inflation.

HIGH HOPES after the Glasgow summit last fall are a distant memory. Global leaders are scrambling for more fossil fuels; China and India, huge coal consumers, are negating the Green sacrifices made in countries like Sweden.

THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES: We think nuclear power should play a role in curbing carbon emissions, but nuclear is politically toxic. Emmanuel Macron and a few other Western leaders view nuclear as a viable option, but most climate activists are opposed.

THE QUEST FOR FOSSIL FUELS will intensify as winter approaches, so the crisis over climate change will persist. Next on the hit list is California, which is rapidly running out of water. The Golden State has enough money to make a major commitment to desalinization of ocean water, but that’s not an immediate solution. The Western fire season is about to begin.

THE WHITE HOUSE BRAGGED yesterday that gasoline prices have fallen by nearly 50 cents per gallon in recent weeks, but the damage has been done; Biden needs gasoline prices to plunge to something close to $3 per gallon, which seems unlikely.

AMERICANS HAVE CONCLUDED, overwhelmingly, that the Biden Administration has bungled energy policy, and that sentiment won’t change much as the November elections approach. Biden set the tone within hours of his inauguration when he killed the Keystone pipeline, so declaring a climate emergency may simply focus on his role in this emergency.

Related: The Collapse of Confidence

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