President Joe Biden has made climate activism a central component of his presidential platform since day one on the campaign trail. But his approach is nothing new: Demonize reliable, affordable energy and limit American industries in the name of saving the planet and averting climate change. The only difference is Biden hasn’t hidden the need to overhaul our economy to meet his ambitious goals.
While setting up his new administration, Biden made clear that he wanted climate change addressed in all sectors — an approach his Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen described: “President Biden has outlined an ambitious strategy to transition the United States to net-zero emissions and has mobilized the entire government to achieve it… At Treasury, our goal is to take this ‘whole of government’ approach and turn it into a ‘whole of economy’ approach.”
The problem is this “whole of economy approach” won’t be good for the economy. At a moment when our economy continues to struggle, the Biden administration continually makes broad claims about all the jobs and opportunities that its climate change strategy will produce. But after months of touting those new jobs, the White House released a white paper where it admitted: “clean energy jobs will not automatically provide high salaries or sufficient protections.” And that “without a Federal strategy for the transition, well-paying jobs could be lost, and new, well-paying jobs may not be created.”
So the Biden administration is selling policies that will weaken our energy security, raise energy prices for Americans, and make us more dependent on foreign nations without assurances that we’ll reduce carbon emissions in any meaningful way or even create better jobs for Americans.
Faced with such an offer, independent-minded Americans must be asking: Is there another way? American innovation says yes.
The Biden administration isn’t wrong that renewable energy sources like wind and solar power have greatly improved in cost and efficiency in recent years, and their increased use is some proof of that. But the reality is that renewable energy sources remain capable of meeting only a small fraction of our energy demands. Enter nuclear power.
While the U.S. has used nuclear power since 1958, our nuclear power levels have remained the same for three decades. In contrast, France embraced the power source back in the 1970s as a way to improve their energy security by decreasing their reliance on oil from the OPEC nations. Since then, the country has enjoyed reliable, cheap, carbon-free power that it has used domestically and even sells to surrounding countries.
France’s approach to nuclear power has been wildly successful. Not only does it bring revenue into the country and keep energy prices low for consumers, but France also generates less than one-tenth of Germany’s carbon emissions at nearly half the cost. Germany, which has been hailed as a leader in renewable energy and fighting climate change, is far behind nuclear-loving France.
Ironically, as France has recently succumbed to pressure from surrounding EU countries such as Germany to increase its share of renewable energy, it has been forced to increase its use of natural gas to overcome the shortfall created by its decrease use of nuclear power, thus leading to higher emissions produced by the country.
To be fair, there are signs the Biden administration is waking up to the reality that, to fight climate change, nuclear power must be in the mix. Energy Secretary Granholm recently said: “Carbon-free nuclear power is an absolutely critical part of our decarbonization equation.” She continued to recognize that we need to preserve our current nuclear fleet and deploy new nuclear technologies already in development.
While these remarks provide hope that the Biden administration is becoming more realistic about America’s clean energy future, there is still a long fight ahead as many climate activists still oppose increasing nuclear power in any way. Until now, Biden has been friendly to progressive climate activists but he’ll have to break with them to embrace nuclear power.
If Biden really wants to reduce U.S. carbon emissions and fight climate change, he should take a cue from France and Germany and apply those lessons to our own energy sector. We don’t need to remake our entire economy to fight climate change. We need to make smart decisions that will decrease our carbon footprint while keeping energy affordable.