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Energy bills

Rumors that an emergency climate proclamation could be used to halt crude exports and suspend offshore drilling started to resurface in mid-April.

When Bloomberg poked the White House for confirmation that the Biden administration is considering such a move, spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández declined to comment specifically on any internal discussions.

Instead, Hernández said: “President Biden has treated the climate crisis as an emergency since day one and will continue to build a clean energy future that lowers utility bills, creates good-paying union jobs, makes our economy the envy of the world and prioritizes communities that for too long have been left behind.”

In contrast, Forbes scoffed at the idea that forcing the nation off fossil fuels would reduce Americans’ energy bills.

“Just look at Europe,” he said. “Germany has two to three times the electricity costs than the U.S. because of the kinds of stuff the Biden administration is doing now. They’ve learned a hard lesson.”

According to Statista analysis, German households paid 40 cents (USD) per kilowatt-hour in September 2023, compared to U.S. households at 17 cents. The data shows that countries who rely heavily on fossil fuel imports for electricity generation are more vulnerable to market price fluctuations.

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A political move

White House advisers in favor of a climate emergency declaration think such a move could garner favor with climate-conscious voters — specifically younger Americans.

Aru Shiney-Ajay, executive director of the Sunrise Movement — a political action organization for young people fighting to stop the climate crisis — told Bloomberg: “If Biden wants to win the youth vote, he needs to take forceful action on climate change.”

But Forbes accused the Biden administration of “throwing all sensible policies away” to try and win the election. He added: “I think young people will see… through it … [there’s] a lot of verbiage that’s going to end up doing them harm.”

He specifically called out some “contradictions” in Washington’s climate directives. For example, the Biden administration introduced new tailpipe pollution limits in March that would ensure that, by 2032, more than half the new cars sold in the U.S. would most likely be zero-emissions vehicles.

But just last week, the administration rejected re-approval of the Ambler Access Project (AAP) in Alaska, denying copper development and other mineral mining, which Forbes believes is critical for the U.S. economy.

“If you are serious about EVs, you need more copper. If you’re serious about high tech, you need more copper for electricity. So, the whole thing is full of contradictions,” Forbes said. “It’s ending up doing harm and creating uncertainty — and you don’t get long-term investment, which is the only way to really get this economy going.”

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.


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