Joe Biden on Energy & Oil

Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Pushed cap-and-trade early; but $90B tax credits passed

Q: Why doesn't the Obama administration use the bully pulpit to talk about climate change like it does for gun control?

A: We have. In his inaugural address, the president said, "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations." In the very beginning, we decided that we had to move on this. And we thought, cap-and-trade. But it got shut down, even when we had a Democratic Congress. So from that point on, the president has been trying to figure out how he can use his executive authority to make some real changes.

Q: Despite the congressional opposition, do you feel the Obama administration has made inroads in the climate fight?

A: The thing I'm proudest of that we were able to get done in the first term was the Recovery Act. It had $90 billion in clean-energy programs. We had a lot of money going into research and development, and also tax credits for wind and solar energy.

Source: Douglas Brinkley in Rolling Stone Magazine , May 9, 2013

Switch China from coal to gas, instead of carbon tax

Q: You mentioned a carbon tax. Is the Obama administration going to follow the lead of China and propose such a policy?

A: The truth is, right now, no, because we know it will go nowhere. Look, one of the things we are doing, and the president is asking me to kind of get ahead of here, is that we have a real chance, both in this hemisphere and with China, to enter into joint ventures on renewable energy and on cleaner-burning natural gas. Let me give you an example: The Chinese are building something like one new coal-fired plant a week. The Chinese have figured out that they have a giant environmental problem. Folks in Beijing, some days, literally can't breathe. So we have a great opportunity here to figure out how we can not only begin to wean ourselves off of carbon-based fuels but wean the world off of them too. It's just a gigantic opportunity, and it produces a boatload of jobs. There are going to be 600,000 new jobs out there in the gas industry over the next 10 to 12 years.

Source: Douglas Brinkley in Rolling Stone Magazine , May 9, 2013

Set out vision for young people to deal with global warming

I was impressed in the discussion [French President Hollande and I] had relative to climate change. The President pointed out that there is an obligation here that extends way beyond these administrations. There is a need to set out a vision for the young people in both our countries that we understand. It's a rallying cry that can be a call for a united effort and support in both our countries to deal with global warming.

President Obama is committed to do that. And he is going to have an interlocutor in John Kerry. There is no one in my country who has been, over the period of time he's been in the Senate, more concerned with or knowledgeable about the issues relating to global warming.

Source: Press Conference with V.P. Biden & French President Hollande , Feb 4, 2013

Unprecedented investment in renewable energy

Obama announced that as part of his clean energy push, "You show us the best ideas to change your game on the ground; we'll show you the money. We will show you the money."

The solar company Solyndra was one of those companies that was shown the money at the beginning of Obama's presidency, as it was a recipient of the stimulus under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the time, Solyndra was touted as the model to follow by the Administration for its green energy economy.

Joe Biden said that the loan guarantee to Solyndra was an "unprecedented investment this Administration is making in renewable energy and exactly what the Recovery Act is all about."

Now Solyndra has completely collapsed and gone bankrupt; it is clear that the President's policies of "showing the money" has meant throwing the money away. In the end, Solyndra is more than just a bankrupt company: it is a metaphor for the failure of Obama's war on affordable energy and American fossil fuel jobs.

Source: The Greatest Hoax, by James Inhofe, p.162-163 , Feb 28, 2012

I have supported clean coal for 25 years

Q: Let me clear something up: Sen. Obama has said he supports clean coal technology, which I donít believe youíve always supported. Do you?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely we do. We call for setting hard targets.

Q: On clean coal?

BIDEN: My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology. A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it wonít be as dirty, it will be clean.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

Cause of global warming is clearly Man-made

Q: What is true and what is false about what we have heard about the causes of climate change?

PALIN: As governor of the nationís only Arctic state, Alaska feels & sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that itís real. Iím not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for manís activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet. But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I donít want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?

BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think itís clearly manmade. If you donít understand what the cause is, itís virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. Thatís the cause. Thatís why the polar icecap is melting.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

Obama believes in investing in alternative energy

BIDEN: We have 3 percent of the worldís oil reserves. We consume 25% of the oil. John has voted 20 times in the last decade-and-a-half against funding alternative energy sources, clean energy sources, wind, solar, biofuels. Obama believes by investing in clean coal and safe nuclear, we can not only create jobs in wind and solar here, we can export it.

PALIN: I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. Weíve got to reduce emissions. John McCain is right there with an ďall of the aboveĒ approach to deal with climate change impacts. As we rely more on other countries that donít care as much about the climate as we do, weíre allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for. Itís all the more reason that we have an ďall of the aboveĒ approach, tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

Nuclear OK after dealing with security, safety, and waste

Q: What role do you see for nuclear power?

A: I see a role for nuclear, but first you've got to deal with the security as well as the safety concerns. I'd be spending a whole hell of a lot of money trying to figure out how to reconfigure the spent fuel into reusable fuel. I would not invest in [growing our nuclear power capacity in its current form], but I would invest in sorting out the storage and waste problems.

Source: NEI Nuclear Notes (Nuclear Energy Industry blogspot) , Aug 25, 2008

The energy challenge take sacrifice and is a moral crusade

We should increase the mileage for automobiles required, make sure every new car in the US is a flex-fuel automobile, and invest in cellulosic research because corn ethanolís not going to take us the whole way. Youíve got to say we are going to make a major change, and that requires a significant investment on renewable energy, moving from 22% to 20% by the end of this next decade in 2020, and making this a moral crusade for the American people. Weíre going to have to sacrifice to be able to get by.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate , Dec 13, 2007

FactCheck: Oil did not jump $18/bbl due to Iran Resolution

A question about the Senateís September adoption of a resolution declaring Iranís Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization sparked lively debate, and a whopper by Biden. Sen. Biden said, ďThe moment that declaration was made, oil prices jumped over $18 a barrel.Ē

There are two things wrong with this statement. One, it took two months, not a ďmoment,Ē for the price of a barrel of oil to increase by $18. The price per barrel was $80.31 on Sept. 26, the date of the Senate resolution. It wasnít until Nov. 19 that it went up as much as Biden says, to $99.16.

The second problem is that connecting the increase in the price of oil to the declaration on the Revolutionary Guard is a rather stunning post-hoc fallacy. Thereís no evidence that something like the Senate resolution would have anything approaching such a dramatic effect on the price of oil. Some would expect [SOME] impact from Bushís sabre-rattling [but] risky financial maneuvers by high-stakes speculators may be having a bigger effect.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

Supports cap-and-trade for greenhouse gases

On climate change Biden occupies what has become the conventional liberal middle-ground, supporting ďa Ďcap-and-tradeí approach to regulating emissions and investment in technologiesĒ to reduce greenhouse gasses.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.180 , Nov 11, 2007

Provide for emergency fuel assistance immediately

A big piece of that cost of high oil prices is risk. People are betting on things getting worse. That old joke, you know: When youíre in a hole, you should stop digging. Why do we continue to cause the price of oil to rise by continuing to rattle the saber with Iran? Why do we continue to cause the price of oil to rise by a foreign policy that is absolutely moribund of any center? What we have to do immediately is to provide for emergency fuel assistance.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Make every automobile sold be a flex-fuel automobile

We have to make an equivalent of a Manhattan Project [on energy & climate change]. We have to fundamentally shift the way we do it. Barack and I have a bill to make sure that every automobile sold in the US is a flex-fuel automobile; every gas station in America, by the year 2009, has to have 10% of itís pumps pumping E85 ethanol.

We also have legislation in requiring we invest $100 million a year for the next couple of years in order to be able to find lithium battery technology to be able to power our cars.

We also have legislation talking about capping emissions. Cap them now; not wait. Cap them where they are now. Timeís running out.

But you have to be willing to make multi-billion dollar investments over the next 10 years and set hard goals in order to be able to get to the point where we are no longer dependent.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007

Joe Biden on Voting Record

1970s: Voted against the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

I respected Biden's decades of experience, but I also knew him as one of just a handful of members of the US Senate who way back in the 1970s had actually voted AGAINST the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, an economic lifeline that would ultimately result in thousands of American jobs, 15 billion barrels of oil pumped into the economy to date, and a huge chunk of domestic energy production.

Over the years, I had occasionally listened to Biden's discussions of energy and realized he had not changed. He still seemed opposed to sensible innovations, from clean coal to nuclear energy to responsible new directional drilling techniques in places like ANWR. On one issue after another, Obama's VP choice was loaded with government experience but still seemed to have no understanding of logical steps we could take to capitalize on American energy resources.

Source: Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin, p.288-289 , Nov 17, 2009

Voted YES on tax incentives for energy production and conservation.

OnTheIssues.org Explanation:A "Cloture Motion" would end debate on the bill, and then allow a vote on passage. This motion failed (3/5ths of the Senators must vote YEA), based on objections of how the new incentives would be paid for.Congressional Summary:A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide Tax incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, and to provide individual income tax relief.