Biden’s energy secretary pumps the brakes on rapid green energy transition: ‘We need both’
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm acknowledged in remarks to fossil fuel industry executives Wednesday that the U.S. would need to maintain oil and gas production “for years to come.”
Granholm’s comments – made during the annual CERAWeek conference in Houston where leading fossil fuel industry representatives have met this week – represent a departure from the climate ambitions of both Democratic lawmakers and other administration officials. While her speech highlighted her continued adamant support for clean energy development, Granholm also cheered increased domestic oil and gas production.
“Now, look. We know that oil and gas will remain part of our energy mix for years to come,” Granholm remarked during her keynote address. “And we know that even the boldest projections for clean energy deployment suggest that, in the middle of this century, we’ll be using abated fossil fuels.”
“We need to advance the technologies for abating fossil emissions, and we need to advance the technologies for clean sources. We need both traditional and new energy,” she continued. “As this transition progresses, our energy mix will change.”
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Later, during a discussion with conference host Daniel Yergin, Granholm applauded recent upticks in fossil fuel drilling and said the higher production levels helped “stabilize the world” amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which roiled global energy markets. She also noted the importance of continued investment in wind, solar and geothermal
“I’m glad, so grateful, that we have seen that increase in production – oil and gas at record levels,” Granholm said.
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The energy secretary then noted figures from the Energy Information Administration which projected this week that U.S. crude oil production would increase from an average of 11.9 million barrels per day in 2022 to 12.4 million barrels a day in 2023 and 12.6 million barrels a day in 2024. The forecast also showed natural gas production reaching record levels.
“Those are all records and obviously has helped our allies and it has helped at home, making sure that we don’t see volatility at the pump,” Granholm continued. “We’re grateful that there has been that increase to help stabilize the world.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration, Democrats in Congress and state leaders have increasingly pushed rapid deployment of clean energy sources paired with retirements of fossil fuel power generation.
For example, shortly after taking office in 2021, President Biden announced his goal for the U.S. to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. And leaders in Democratic-led states have rapidly pushed green energy while shutting down fossil fuel capacity.
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“Along with the governments of other major greenhouse-gas-emitting countries, the Biden-Harris administration has declared the United States’ intention to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst consequences of climate change,” the White House stated in a report last year.
“Because three-quarters of human-caused U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels for energy, the most important step in reducing emissions is to shift from carbon-intensive to clean sources of energy – in short, to pursue a clean energy transition.”
However, power grid watchdog groups, led by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), have warned that switching too rapidly to green energy will threaten reliability for consumers and could have devastating consequences.
“Two major concepts that came out of our report this year are about the transformation and being able to manage the pace of transition in an orderly way and that making sure new resources, when they are replacing retired generation, provide sufficient energy but also essential reliability services,” John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessment and performance analysis, said in December.
“In other words, we need to manage the pace of the changing resource mixture to make sure we are adequately planning and operating the bulk power system,” he added.
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Overall, 60% of U.S. electricity was produced by fossil fuel generation while 10% was produced by wind power and less than 4% was produced by solar power in 2022, federal data showed. And 99% of the hundreds of millions of cars are gas-powered, according to Car and Driver magazine.
A spokesperson for the Energy Department referred Fox News Digital back to Granholm’s speech.