Ethics & Public Policy Center

Joe Biden May Talk From the Center. But He Would Likely Govern From the Left.

Published in The Washington Post on May 19, 2020


Joe Biden’s announcement that he will revoke permits for the Keystone XL pipeline if elected is more than just bad energy policy. It’s yet another sign that the former vice president will talk to the center but govern from the left.

Blocking the pipeline has been a cause célèbre for environmentalists for more than a decade. Because it ships crude oil produced from Canadian tar sands in Alberta, they argue that it promotes the exploitation of environmentally dangerous fossil fuels. Environmentalists also argue that this encourages climate change by making another source of greenhouse-gas-causing fuel commercially viable. They succeeded in persuading President Barack Obama to block the project in 2015 by denying necessary federal permits, but President Trump reversed that decision after taking office.

Biden, for his part, has campaigned as a more centrist candidate on energy policy. He’s refused to fully support the Green New Deal, acknowledging the need for oil and gas for the time being and opposing a ban on fracking. But his decision to block an energy project already underway clashes with that message. So, too, does his decision to appoint the hard-line progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to co-chair one of his campaign’s committees on climate policy. It is a prime example of Biden acquiescing to the left to court progressive support.

Click here to read the rest of this piece at the Washington Post’s website.

Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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