Former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray published an editorial in RealClear Energy on May 4, explaining that while President Biden’s E15 waiver is a good first step, more is needed to confront the new energy crisis. He writes,
Moving towards a comprehensive, sound, and sustainable energy policy will require some course correction. The administration’s current approach reflects a tug-of-war between what might be called “climate idealism” and “climate realism.” Climate idealists in the administration are committed to the idea that the only way to confront “the climate crisis” is to bury the internal combustion engine and natural gas and to replace them with electric cars and windmills. On the other hand, the realists—including those like Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who pushed for the President to approve this E15 waiver—know that the costs of moving towards an all-electric fleet are enormous and probably politically unachievable.
The editorial argues that piling one temporary program on top of another is no way to make meaningful progress towards climate goals. Gray explains,
The weakness of much climate idealism is the notion that we are in a “climate emergency,” and that the only way forward is to simply quit fossil fuels cold turkey. The prevalence of this ethos is why the administration has largely ignored or been hostile to many proposals that would curb greenhouse gas emissions—like increased use and export of natural gas, building new nuclear power plants, or moving towards a high-octane, low-carbon fuel standard to enable the development of more efficient and lower emitting internal combustion engines. No one seriously disputes the environmental benefits of these approaches, but, for the climate idealists, if it’s not wind or solar, it’s only a halfway solution that won’t fix the “underlying problem.”
Instead, the President should take a proactive position and adopt what Senator Manchin has aptly described as an all-of-the-above strategy that focuses on market-based solutions to reaching our greenhouse-gas emissions goals. This blend of solutions would likely include expanded natural gas, nuclear, and measures to increase bio-fuel options like the Next Generation Fuels Act.
The full editorial, entitled Year-Round E15 Is a Good First Step, But More Is Needed to Confront the New Energy Crisis, is available here.
Amb. C. Boyden Gray served as White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush and as Ambassador to the European Union and Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy under President George W. Bush.