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Biden’s American Economic Dilemma: Fossil Fuels and the 2024 Election

The American elections…and the fossil fuel dilemma

As he enters his re-election year, President Joe Biden, and most observers, realize that the state of the American economy will be a major factor in determining whether he wins the election or not. Meanwhile, most voters believe that there is no better indicator of their well-being than the price of gasoline at gas stations, and its contribution to the daily economy. Accordingly, low or medium oil prices will help Biden, while high oil prices will harm him.
In fact, Biden faces a difficult situation, as his administration is a global leader who has been stressing the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in order to slow the rate of global warming. Biden’s special envoy for climate change is former Secretary of State John Kerry, who travels around the world to attend conferences and demand more “green” policies to save the planet. But what is ironic is that the United States has now become the world’s leading producer of oil, natural gas, and refined oil, with current oil production reaching more than 13 million barrels per day. The United States has also become one of the four largest oil exporting countries. Thanks to new technology and corporate consolidation, the American oil and natural gas industry has been able to reduce the cost of production, making its products attractive and desirable in international markets.
Such statistics would have been something that most American leaders would have been proud of, given that a decade or so ago, pessimists were predicting that the United States would become increasingly dependent on imports of foreign fossil fuels, which would increase the country’s dependence on the free flow of oil from the Gulf and South America. However, Biden and his administration have remained remarkably silent about these impressive statistics. Meanwhile, Republicans have continued to criticize the restrictions imposed by Biden on areas of the United States that could be opened to new oil development projects.
In this context, Donald Trump confirms that he will encourage drilling and exploration for oil and gas on the first day of his new administration if he is re-elected. These are words Trump supporters love to hear. In general, Republicans are less concerned than Democrats about the risks of climate change and the role that carbon emissions from fossil fuels play in global warming.
In contrast, Democrats, especially younger voters, take climate change seriously and strongly support global efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. These are precisely the voters that Biden needs in order to win next November. These potential voters also support women’s right to choose regarding health issues, especially abortion, and are concerned about the role the United States plays in the Middle East. Biden’s strong support for Israel in the Gaza war has dissatisfied and alienated a large number of Muslim voters who might otherwise vote. Now for a third party, or perhaps they will prefer to stay at home and abstain from voting.
In other words, an important part of Biden’s voting bloc feels disturbed by his energy policies and foreign options. It is not clear whether the painful concessions made on climate change and fuels at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) will be acceptable and sufficient for young Democratic voters who strongly believe in the need to do more to slow global warming.
Therefore, how Biden will reconcile his administration’s conflicting messages on fossil fuels and climate change will be one of the many difficulties he will have to confront in the coming months. However, the challenge he faces will become more complex if the war in the Middle East expands and extends to the Red Sea and beyond to have a serious impact on the global oil market, and thus an impact on fuel prices for American voters themselves.

*Director of Strategic Programs at the National Interest Center – Washington

2024-01-04 20:00:18
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