Leading climate activists are not concerned about President Biden’s decision to tap into the country’s 50 million barrels of oil reserve.
Some leading climate hawks, however, said they were not concerned by the move because they see it as a short-term fix to meet a specific problem. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who has focused on combating climate change, said Biden was “taking effective action to protect Americans from oil price gouging” even as the administration continues to boost renewable energy that it hopes will eventually mean less dependence on fossil fuels.
“This is what reserves are for — defending our economy against disruption,″ Markey tweeted. “Profiteering can’t go unanswered, especially as Big Oil makes billions and fuels the climate crisis through exports.″
This decision aims to lower gasoline prices, but it could also contradict his long-term vision of combating climate change. It could undermine his climate goals, which includes a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Biden has authority under the legislation to declare an emergency and limit or stop oil exports for up to a year but is not expected to do so.
director of energy campaigns with the Sierra Club, hailed Biden’s actions as a way to ease Americans’ energy burdens. But she said the current spike in oil prices was a reminder that “the only way to truly achieve energy security is to rapidly transition away from risky fossil fuels like oil and gas and make it easier for more people to access clean energy.″
Lorne Stockman, research director of Oil Change International, an environmental group focused on creating a “fossil-free future,″ said Biden should have acted sooner, if only to counter a barrage of Republican criticism blaming him for high gasoline prices.
Biden has said the U.S. needs to transition away from oil dependence, and “now is the moment to keep that promise by urgently speeding the transition to electric cars and a renewable energy grid,″ said Kassie Siegel, director of a climate law institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, another environmental group.