Politics

Biden snubs oil execs, glad-hands wind companies: ‘We’re about to build a better America’

President Biden met with offshore wind industry executives Thursday after snubbing oil executives summoned to Washington to come up with “concrete solutions” to combat skyrocketing gas prices.

Mr. Biden, who has committed to fighting climate change by steering the U.S. away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, is now battling skyrocketing prices at the pump which critics say is partly due to his policies. 

The wind energy rendezvous, which included senior administration officials, labor leaders, and several East Coast governors, marked the White House’s launch of a new federal-state offshore wind partnership meant to “jumpstart the American offshore wind industry.”

“We’re about to build a better America,” said Mr. Biden, who was seated at the head of the table for the meeting in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. 

They plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, enough power, The White House said, to power 10 million homes.

Mr. Biden said the endeavor will support 77,000 jobs and spur $12 billion per year in private investment for offshore wind projects.

The president boasted that such a White House meeting could not have taken place just years ago but now he has improved the relationships between business, labor and government.

Mr. Biden’s relationship with oil companies, however, has soured in recent weeks.

Seven major U.S. oil companies sent their executives to Washington to meet with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm at the Department of Energy headquarters earlier Thursday, one day after Mr. Biden announced his comprehensive plan to bring down gas prices by asking Congress and state governments to temporarily waive gas taxes, and oil companies to boost production while cutting their profits.

Mr. Biden has blamed high gas prices on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine, which he says put global oil markets in turmoil. He also accused U.S. oil companies of adding to the pain by boosting profits as American families break the bank to fill up.

The meeting came on the heels of a tense back-and-forth with Chevron Chairman and CEO Mike Wirth who accused Mr. Biden of trying to “vilify” the fossil fuel industry.

The president dismissed him as being “mildly sensitive.”

Mr. Biden did not attend the highly-anticipated meeting with Mr. Wirth and his counterparts.

The White House said there was nothing behind the snub, and said his meeting with the clean energy crowd “is something that he does very often.”

“There were governors in that meeting who were virtual and in person,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said of the meeting on wind energy. “So we see this as a part of his schedule where there was actually a meeting at the White House.”

The tone of the administration’s meeting with oil executives was less chipper.

“The secretary made clear that the administration believes it’s imperative that companies increase the supply of gas and she reiterated that the President is prepared to act quickly and decisively using the tools available to him as appropriate,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said of the meeting.

Nonetheless, both parties came away optimistic that they will eventually solve through continued talks.

Ms. Pierre said the meeting was a “productive dialogue focused on creating an opportunity for the industry to work with the government to help deliver needed relief to American consumers.”

The American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers said in a joint statement that said talks will continue with policymakers in search of avenues to “unlock American energy, fuel economic recovery, and strengthen our national security.”

Mr. Wirth said he remained “optimistic about our ability to work together to achieve these shared objectives” and that the meeting was “an important step toward achieving greater energy security, economic prosperity and environmental protection.”

Also at the meeting were executives from ExxonMobil, Marathon and Phillips 66.

• Ramsey Touchberry contributed to this report.

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