Why should the Middle East pay for Biden’s cheap oil?
US President Joe Biden flew all the way to Egypt last week to attend a conference on protecting the environment, and yet his message to oil-producing nations is that the environment in their countries does not matter.
It is hard to find a different explanation for the Biden administration’s misguided efforts at the Sharm El-Sheikh climate change conference, known as COP27, and his statements back home about no more oil production on our shores.
For many years, developing nations have demanded compensation from industrialized countries for the losses and damage caused by climate change. These are known as “loss and damage” payments. The US and EU nations, with the exception of Denmark, had until this month rejected these claims.
While Biden himself has not yet agreed to loss and damage payments, the Biden administration’s climate czar, John Kerry, has agreed to discuss the concept.
While Kerry is considering ways to give away more US taxpayer money — funds that are desperately needed here in the US — Biden continues to push Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other oil producers to increase their output, so that American voters will not blame him for high gasoline prices when they go to fill up their SUVs.
At the same time, Biden is catering to his virtue signaling Democratic Party, banning fracking, canceling oil pipelines and other anti-oil proclamations here in the US, at the cost of American jobs and American energy self-sufficiency. Though, in the run-up to the midterm elections, the White House claimed it was pushing US oil companies to produce more oil, that message rang false and seemed designed to deflect blame from voters for obscenely high prices at the pump.
Let us remember that, almost as soon as he was sworn in, Biden issued an executive order pausing oil and gas leasing on federal lands to make good on his campaign promise to reduce oil production. When Biden was running for office, he said there would be “no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period. Ends.” Why Democrats are so intent on harming the US economy by taking away jobs has never been made clear.
Let me take this opportunity to introduce two American acronyms to the readers of Arab News. They are NIMBY and BANANA. NIMBY stands for “Not In My Backyard” and BANANA stands for “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.” The phrases come into play whenever something unappealing has been proposed for a location and the people who live or work there have the power to stop it.
The president wants America to have cheap oil, but he wants Gulf nations to suffer the environmental consequences.
Jason D. Greenblatt
The threat might be low-cost housing in a wealthy neighborhood, where the rich people do not want to have to rub shoulders with the poor. It might be turning a wooded area into a shopping mall, thus surrendering an attractive part of the region so that a few people can make money. Or it might be something that negatively affects the environment, like, say, drilling for oil.
The president wants America to have cheap oil, or at least cheaper oil, and plenty of it. But he wants Gulf nations, far from American shores, to suffer the environmental consequences of extracting oil from the ground, refining it and shipping it to the US.
Biden is catering to his donors’ desire to have it both ways: lots of oil and cheap gas, without any messy environmental consequences. Let Saudi Arabia and the UAE pay that price, he is saying. You can sum up his position with these two acronyms: NIMBY and BANANA. Extracting oil from the ground? Not in our backyard. Expanding refinery capacity? Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything … in the US.
The president must assume that these countries are so hungry for money that they will enable his vision of an America that is at once environmentally sound and benefiting from gasoline at $3 a gallon. Biden is banking on the idea that Arab leaders will say, “Sure, we will do the dirty work for you at the low, non-market price you demand.”
As long as Biden’s limousine liberals are happy, then he is happy. And limousines need a lot of gasoline to get where they are going. Biden is essentially telling OPEC+ countries: “Sacrifice your environment so Westerners can pretend we are not the cause of the negative impact on the environment caused by oil. You guys handle the dirty work and we’ll cut you a check.” That is NIMBY and BANANA at its finest.
Will OPEC+ countries now line up for the loss and damage payments? Just how big a check is Kerry prepared to have the US Treasury write to nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, since these and other OPEC+ countries are doing our dirty work? The dirty work that Biden is reducing and aiming to no longer allow in the US. Enough to pay for the environmental damage that will follow, as Biden makes oil affordable for his supporters and, as he pretends, helps the environment? All he is really doing is sweeping the pollution under the rug.
The overall problem with the environmentalist movement is its sheer hypocrisy. Look at Al Gore, flying in private jets to events where he complains about how we are trashing the environment … while flying private. He will tell you that he is buying carbon offsets. Please, Al, if you really want to protect the environment, stay home. Have you not heard of Zoom?
Progressives in Biden’s camp are unwilling to allow Americans to drill for oil … on American soil. But once you get out of the country, anything goes. If all goes according to Kerry’s plan, do not be surprised if US taxpayers are soon subsidizing the ravaging of the environments of OPEC+ nations. NIMBY? BANANA? If you are in the UAE, Saudi Arabia or any other OPEC+ nation where oil flows, you better believe it.
• Jason D. Greenblatt served as White House Middle East envoy in the Trump administration. He is the author of the new book “In the Path of Abraham.”