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How the Biden Administration is Tackling Energy Efficiency

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Todd Carney's picture
Writer, Freelance

Todd Carney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Communications. He writes on many different aspects of energy, in particular how it...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Feb 24, 2022

With gridlock in Congress, the Biden administration is finding it difficult to enact many transformative parts of their agenda. But the threat of climate change, rising gas prices, and energy consequences from conflicts abroad remain, so the Biden administration needs to find other ways to respond to energy issues in America. If the Biden administration can make the US more energy efficient, they will be able to help solve the problems above, along with other potential threats. The Biden administration has engaged in unique strategies for several types of energy sources.

Nuclear Energy

One way the Biden administration is pursuing energy efficiency is by further preserving nuclear energy. The infrastructure legislation provided $6 billion to help subsidize nuclear energy. Two weeks ago, the Biden administration announced their plan for implementing that $6 billion allocation. 

Now spending $6 billion on nuclear energy might not seem efficient. Cost-wise, many would argue that the US government should not be spending money on helping any energy industry, as an energy source should sink or swim on its own. The nuclear industry has tried to do that, but the cost of keeping the infrastructure up to date on nuclear facilities makes it difficult for nuclear companies to make a profit. 

Further complicating the matter is that several states have enacted laws that force nuclear energy to compete against natural gas. In general, natural gas is cheaper to purchase, so competing against natural gas makes it all the more difficult for nuclear energy to be profitable.

Some might say that the market should just play out, and if more people want natural gas, so be it. However, nuclear energy is among the cleanest sources in terms of emissions. The Biden administration was to cut US gas pollution in half by 2030. Maintaining or even increasing nuclear energy could prove essential to this goal.

Offshore Wind

The Biden administration also held an auction on offshore wind leasing, where different industry players could bid for the right to set up wind turbines off certain coasts between New Jersey and New York. This was the first auction for that reason since 2016, and the first offshore wind auction in general since 2018.

The auction is part of the Biden administration’s plan to generate 30 gigawatts of power from offshore wind by 2030. This auction concerns about half a million acres and could generate 7 gigawatts of energy alone. The auction could also result in billions of dollars in capital and tens of thousands of jobs.

The cultivation of offshore wind could lower energy prices overall as it creates more competition in the energy market long-term. Additionally, offshore wind is extremely efficient in terms of emissions.

Mining in the US

The Biden administration is seeking to revamp mineral mining. The Biden administration has suspended mining in Alaska in an area that threatened Native American territory. The Biden administration is also calling for new mines to have a focus on renewable energy. Still, the Biden administration is providing grants for mining that will help reduce foreign energy dependence, and help fight supply chain issues. 

Short-term, the Biden administration’s decisions on mining could increase energy prices, but clearly the Biden administration hopes that long-term it will encourage a market with more diverse energy sources that have lower emissions.

Oil and Gas

Earlier this week, the Biden administration suspended granting new federal leases on oil and gas due to a federal court ruling that put an injunction in place for a program by the Biden administration to calculate the impact of fossil fuels on climate change. The Biden administration planned on using these calculations to regulate oil and gas accordingly.

The Biden administration is playing hardball by insisting that new leases can only occur when they can institute a regulatory system that helps curb the impacts of oil and gas on climate change. However, the timing of the suspension has won the Biden administration criticism, particularly from Conservatives, because the decision came as tensions are increasing with Russia, which could cause oil prices to increase. Additionally, gas prices are already high. The back and forth here demonstrates the inevitable political controversy when it comes to regulating fossil fuels.



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