Joe Biden’s Green New Disaster
Joe Biden’s campaign website boasts a “Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.”1
But a closer look reveals that it’s modeled after the so-called “Green New Deal,” a pet project of Progressive politicians.
And if these proposed policies gain traction in the U.S., it will all rapidly play out as a Green New Disaster.
Energy is already heavily regulated in the U.S., from prospect to pipeline, refinery to gas pump, coal mine to the power plant — all the way down to the electric switch on your wall.
Yet somehow Biden is calling for even more government control over it all.
At root, the Biden Plan isn’t a recipe for wrecking the current energy system… it’s an entire cookbook.
From there it will screw up the economy, ruin your standard of living and impoverish the country.
The very least you can do is understand what could be coming.
So let’s dig in…
We caught a glimpse of the Biden Plan at last week’s presidential debate.
President Trump asked Biden, “Would you close down the oil industry?”
Biden replied, “Yes. I would transition.… Because the oil industry pollutes, significantly. Because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time.”2
I recently discussed the energy-angle of the presidential debate — describing it as its “worst moment.”
But there’s plenty more to say…
The Biden’s Plan will dramatically alter the U.S. energy economy to somehow “save” the environment.
Now, nobody is arguing — definitely not me, your geologist-editor! — that the environment is not under stress. There’s plenty of evidence that human activities affect the environment, from global macro-levels to microclimates.
It’s just that wrecking the U.S. energy system — and by extension, upending the overall economy — will not actually “save” the planet, as I’ll explain in a moment.
More likely, the Biden Plan will alter the power equation for American politicians, bureaucrats and well-connected corporations and oligarchs.
You and I will lose many personal freedoms that are grounded on abundant and affordable energy supplies.
A big part of the problems is that the Biden Plan takes cues from the Green New Deal. And that Progressive brainchild, in turn, is modeled after President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programs of the 1930s.
There’s an entire mythology about the New Deal — much of it wrong. In general, though, the New Deal was a hodge-podge of hastily assembled, poorly thought-out government programs that didn’t work very well.
It also failed its primary objective — to end the Great Depression.
You could say that World War II actually ended the Great Depression. But more precisely, the war ended the New Deal, which ended the Great Depression.
So anything modeled after the New Deal is automatically suspect… yet the Biden Plan manages to be even worse.
The idea is to use the pervasive power of government to tear down, then somehow recreate, the vast U.S. energy complex from both the ground-up and top-down.
It will be like driving down the highway at 75 miles per hour and rebuilding the engine along the way. What could go wrong?
Over time — and quickly, if proponents have their way — the Biden plan will throttle the U.S. fossil fuel industry.
The fundamental goal is to eliminate almost all carbon combustion at every level. It’s also not favorable to nuclear power either, despite its absence of carbon emissions.
Instead, solar and wind will generate electricity for our extensively revamped, de-carbonized economy.
Frankly, it’s ignorant industrial lunacy to preach that the U.S. can somehow power itself using solar cells and windmills — especially “by 2025,” as Biden has said. Though he may have meant 2035, as he clarified later. Or perhaps it’s 2045, as his web site states.
Whatever the case, even attempting to reach those goals will require a strong dose of energy fascism.
Even worse, the efforts will impoverish the United States while enriching other nations…
The idea of suddenly killing off fossil fuels and transforming our continental-scale energy system would seem slightly less insane if the U.S. had the industrial capacity to pull it off.
But as I explained last week, right now the guts of most solar and wind systems come from foreign sources, mainly… guess where… China!
The necessary electronics for these systems — as well as the large magnets in the windmills — require rare earth elements (REE). And I explained, the global REE chain is located in… guess where… China!
Meanwhile, the bulk of a typical solar panel is made of a material called polycrystalline silicon. This highly refined version of silicon is manufactured in many countries. But most of the world’s output comes from… guess where… China!
Meanwhile, most of the world’s solar panels are manufactured in… guess where… China!
Indeed, six of the top-10 solar panel makers in the world are Chinese. (Two are Japanese, one is Canadian and a U.S. maker brings up the rear of the list.)3
So right away, the Biden Plan for renewable energy will require buying large amounts of capital equipment — complex energy systems, no less — from… guess where… China, and a few other Asian and European nations.
Of course, the Biden Plan doesn’t see it playing out that way.
According to the magical thinking that undergirds much of the Green Movement, the federal government will simply wave its legal and regulatory wand… and presto… new U.S. companies will quickly spring up.
For example, the government will mandate “Buy American” for renewable equipment. And some way or another, entire new industries will take root and blossom in the U.S., complete with complicated supply chains.
At the stroke of a president’s pen, factories will suddenly appear across the land to refine mountains of polycrystalline silicon, extract REEs, fabricate subassemblies and assemblies, and eventually crank out carloads of solar panels and windmills.
Over the past decade, I’ve met many of the players in the REE arena. I assure you that numerous very smart people have tried to get mine-mill-refining programs up and running in the U.S. without success.
As it stands, there’s a single rare earth mine that operates in the U.S., at Mountain Pass, California.
Over the past 25 years, the project has had a series of owners — Unocal, Chevron, Molycorp, Neo Materials — and nobody seems able to make money at it. The assets have passed through a couple of bankruptcy courts.
Currently, Mountain Pass is operating at reduced scale. There’s basic mining — the digging and crushing. Then the ore is shipped to… guess where… China!
And gain, this is the only such REE mine in the U.S. There are no others, except a couple of recycling plays.
I’ve also mentioned other REE names here at the Whiskey bar — over-the-counter plays like Medallion Resources and Defense Metals.
But Medallion is an early stage development play, while Defense is an early-stage explorer. They are both promising, in my view, but not funded or staffed to support a crash-program of supplying REEs to a hungry marketplace, which is what the Biden Plan would require.
Even if they could suddenly start pumping out commercial-level volumes of ore, the U.S. lacks mine-mill-refining capabilities to make them useful. Building those facilities will take years.
It will also require extensive environmental reviews and permits.
In fact, the mining, milling and refining required to create our green energy could end up causing more pollution than what the Biden Plan is designed to stop.
After that the question becomes, who will design, build and maintain these assets?
The U.S. lacks significant trained people who can work in a new, big-time industrial effort like “renewables.” Indeed, the U.S. lacks an educational pipeline that can turn out large numbers of trained people any time soon. These things also take years, if not generations.
In short, proponents of the Green New Deal think it will be World War II all over again, when U.S. industry geared up to churn out ships, airplanes, tanks, ammunition, etc.
But in the 1930s, the U.S. already had the industrial capacity, supply chains and personnel to quickly switch to wartime production.
After all, it was a lot easier for an automobile factory to start making tanks. Management knew where to get the necessary steel, engine components, etc. Assembly line workers only needed a little retraining to apply their skills to a bigger product.
It’s nothing like building a new solar panel factory from scratch.
And we haven’t even touched the topic of where we’ll store all this green energy….
Obviously, solar and wind are at the mercy of the day-night rotation of the earth and good or bad weather. There’s no solar power at night, and the wind blows when it blows.
So you must store “renewable” energy when it’s captured for later use, like at night.
That means batteries — and not the kind in a flashlight, cellphone or even in an electric car.
No, we’re talking about “utility-scale” battery storage. Enough to power cities and factories around the clock. Battery systems that cover acres of ground, with storage capacity to hold a massive charge for days, weeks and even months.
Frankly, the technology is not “there” yet for this kind of battery storage. Nor is the utility-scale cost structure necessary for buying such systems.
Of course, there are promising ideas for long-term, utility-scale batteries using all manner of interesting metals like copper, nickel, vanadium, even sulfur. (Note: copper, nickel and vanadium are rather expensive.)
Now, though, we’re talking about using even more metals, which means more mining, milling and refining — industries that simply are not large-scale in the U.S. anymore.
So to go “renewable” per Biden, America will be buying cargo ships full of metals from other nations, including… guess where… China!
Not that the Chinese have solved the electric storage issues either. But to their credit, they have entire programs, universities, industrial and construction projects testing things out right now.
And China has a vast network of “procurement” projects across the world, mining ores from other nations. I actually discussed Chinese mines in Peru last year.
So here’s the bottom line on the Biden Plan, which is just another wrapper for the Green New Deal…
Members of the know-it-all political class want to hijack the American energy system, dismantle the fossil fuel-burning side and somehow legislate and regulate the country down an industrial road that is simply not ready for the ride.
I don’t doubt that the regulators can and will wreck the fossil side of things. Indeed, they’ll do it quickly.
Stand by for brownouts and blackouts as coal and natural gas plants shut down. We’ll all live in the energy-equivalent of California, expanded to a national stage.
And stand by for shortages of gasoline and diesel, plus sky-high prices at the pump.
Of course, oil and gas (even coal) are used in the chemical industry. So be prepared for shortages and price dislocations for things made of plastic, or for chemicals like agricultural fertilizers, packaging materials, pharmaceuticals and even textiles that go into clothing.
The Biden Plan’s approach to de-carbonizing will bring nearly everyone down to a shockingly low quality of life.
Only top-dog politicians, and their billionaire oligarch supporters, will still enjoy anything like good times as the rest of the country ekes out a living in an energy-poor economy.
The Biden Plan is a looming Green New Disaster.
On that note, I rest my case.
That’s all for now… Thank you for subscribing and reading.
Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder
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