Activists, Media Praise Biden’s Comment To Transition Away From Oil
Former Vice President Joe Biden made waves in the final presidential debate last week when he declared that his climate plan would include a transition away from the oil industry in the United States.
When pressed by President Donald Trump about if he would “close down the oil industry,” Biden responded by firmly stating, “I would transition from the oil industry. Yes.” Those comments were immediately seized on by Trump who said this policy, “In terms of business, that’s the biggest statement.”
Biden’s attempted to walk back the comments after the debate, saying, “We’re getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time,” but in the past several days, environmental activist groups and mainstream media reporters have ignored his follow up statement and cheered on Biden’s pledge to transition away from the oil industry.
Evan Weber, a co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, an activist group that aims to completely eliminate oil and natural gas production within 10 years, saw no need for Biden’s follow up statement and praised his initial stance during the debate. “I was very happy to see the vice president be honest and go on offense,” Weber told the Washington Post.
InsideClimateNews reported that “Environmental activists largely applauded Biden’s performance, even as many vowed to push him to take bolder steps,” while The Guardian noted that his comments were “praised by environmentalists as being a candid acknowledgment of the scale of the climate crisis” and the story featured Bill McKibben, co-founder of activist group 350.org, saying Biden’s statement “Now counts as the conventional wisdom. That matters.”
NBC News echoed these sentiments by reporting that “some progressive groups struck a positive note on Biden’s oil rhetoric,” and quoted a top official with the activist group NextGen America, who said, “He leaned in on clean energy and transitioning away from fossil fuels, including big oil. … Good politics, good politician, good plan. I’m a happy camper.”
As Western Wire reported last week, the Sunrise Movement and 350 are just two of the many activist groups attempting to influence a potential Biden Administration on energy and environmental issues.
On ABC’s This Week, political analyst Matthew Dowd defended Biden’s original statement in the debate and said it wouldn’t cause him any problems politically.
“I think many people are looking this as an issue that it’s like it was 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. Let me give you a stat, more people work in renewable energy industry in Texas than work in the oil and gas industry in Texas. So, I don’t think that this is as near of a problem that many people think it is for Joe Biden’s campaign,” Dowd said.
But Dowd’s statement isn’t correct. According to a report from the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, there were more then 320,000 direct oil and natural gas jobs in the state during the first half of 2020, while there were only 39,000 renewable energy jobs in Texas last year.
Meanwhile, Catherine Rampell, a columnist for the Washington Post called Biden’s comments “inelegant and politically damaging,” but claimed it was not “a flub, a gaffe, a red flag for radicalism,” and she said Biden focus on moving away from oil wasn’t radical.
David Roberts, an energy reporter for Vox, defended Biden’s comments to transition away from oil as the “carbon math” and said that “these recent energy disputes” are starting “to be working in the Democrats’ favor.” Roberts also praised Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for focusing first on getting Biden elected and then later pressuring him to support a fracking ban.