“There is a real threat of backlash against the green movement,” said Greg Valliere, chief US policy strategist at AGF Investments. “Most people agree with the goals, but their good intentions tend to fade when they look for something to blame.”
Americans despise high gasoline prices and, right or wrong, tend to blame them on whoever is in the White House.
âYou can argue that it’s not Biden’s fault, but it’s the president,â Valliere said. “If you’re the quarterback and the team isn’t doing well, you take a disproportionate share of the blame whether you deserve it or not.”
More than perhaps any other good or service, consumers view gasoline prices as a proxy for the cost of living.
âYou stand there and watch the LED screen add up every dollar,â said Ed Mills, Washington policy analyst at Raymond James.
Rise in national gas prices, especially in Europe
It’s not just gasoline prices that are causing the angst at the moment.
âWell-managed clean energy transitions are a solution to the problems we face today in the gas and electricity markets, not the cause,â IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. communicated at the end of last month.
“A warning sign for what could happen here”
Yet critics of the climate provisions of Biden’s broad economic package have called the overseas experience a warning for the United States.
Beyond that, Mills doesn’t think the global energy crisis will change many minds in the current debate.
“On the contrary, it only complicates matters,” Mills said, adding that “all parties will dig into their existing positions.”
Advocacy for clean energy
“We depend on volatile fossil markets, but we don’t have to be,” Trevor Higgins, senior director of national climate and energy policy at the Center for American Progress, a group of liberal thinking. âSwitching to clean energy is actually a way to protect yourself from rising costs. “
Higgins compared the situation to that of an investor who puts too many eggs in one basket.
âJust like how an investor will diversify their portfolio, our energy system needs to diversify its resources so that we have layoffs,â Higgins said.
The logic behind supporting electric vehicles makes even more sense at a time when Americans are paying high prices for gasoline. The continued adoption of electric vehicles is expected to ease the demand for gas, preventing prices from rising.
Floods, hurricanes and heat waves
Another complicating factor in the climate debate is the role that extreme weather has played in limiting the supply of fossil fuels.
Heat waves in the United States have increased electricity use this summer, depleting natural gas reserves as this winter approaches.
Hurricane Ida shut down nearly all of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil and gas production and disrupted the region’s refinery activity in late summer.
âClimate change is part of the reason prices are high,â Higgins said. “If we stick with dependence on oil and gas, we will worsen the climate crisis and cause more disruption from more heat and stronger hurricanes.”
Yet the question remains open whether Democrats can credibly champion this cause.
Republicans may find it much easier to present the merits of more drilling to combat high gas prices.
âFor those who want climate provisions, they will have to sit there and explain the higher gas prices,â Mills said. “And in politics, when you explain, you lose.”