HYPOCRISY WATCH: Joe Biden Changes His Tune On Energy

In a recent town hall, former Vice President Joe Biden said of fossil fuel company executives: “We should put them in jail.” In the same town hall, Biden also alleged “we’re all dead” if we don’t stop using fossil fuels.

It wasn’t so long ago that Biden was talking up the role of American energy companies in promoting global security and energy independence for our allies.

From the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2016:

Biden …  lamented periodic brown and blackouts in areas of that country and others in Latin America where energy shortages are not uncommon. He said U.S. production of liquefied natural gas is abundant enough to export, as evidenced by Port Tampa Bay’s investment in two new cranes to increase capacity.

He argued that natural gas production in the United States is the key to energy independence.

“Energy is the linchpin to economic growth,” Biden said. “You don’t set up shop if you can’t rely on affordable, accessible energy, electricity.”

In a 2015 speech on the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, then-Vice President Biden had this to say:

We have technologies in natural gas that are moving forward.  And we shouldn’t expect this to be a panacea for everyone, but it’s also true there are more options at your disposal now for natural gas delivery than there have ever been -— from small-scale barge trades of LNG, to floating import terminals.  And they’re not just — these aren’t just designs on paper.  They exist.  They operate.

You can now purchase gas on the open market from many countries, including your neighbor, Trinidad and Tobago right now.  There’s also LNG exporters in the United States with licenses to export to any of your countries, whether you have a free trade agreement or not.  If you want gas, go talk to them. 

Meanwhile, we’re in the midst of a seismic shift in the global economy:  the ascendancy of the Americas as the epicenter of energy production in the world.  We have more oil and gas rigs running in the United States, than all the rest of the world combined.  Mexico, Canada and the United States is the new epicenter of energy — not the Arabian Peninsula.  It is the new epicenter of energy in the 21st century. 

An integrated North America, working to promote energy security beyond our borders can be a major asset for the entire hemisphere.  And it’s profoundly in the self-interest of the United States to see the Caribbean countries succeed as prosperous, secure, energy-independent neighbors -— not a world apart, but an integral part of the hemisphere, where every nation is middle class, democratic and secure.  It’s the first time in history that can be envisioned.  You can see it if we make the right decisions.

In a 2014 speech on European energy security to the Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit, Biden called for more pipelines to be built in Europe:

When President Obama visited Poland in June and Estonia in September, he called on leaders across Europe to do far more to expand and diversify their energy supplies and to work closely with one another. We are hopeful the new E.U. Commission’s focus on Energy Union will be a step in that direction. So what do we need to do now? What actually needs to happen? Well, in our view, to start, we need to identify critical infrastructure projects, increase the interconnectedness between European countries — from pipelines, to electric grids, to integration of renewables, to energy efficiency standards.

Rather than pandering to narrow political constituencies in an attempt to secure the Democratic nomination for president, it’s time Biden returns to his former approach of advocating for pragmatic, realistic and comprehensive solutions to energy and environmental challenges.