President Biden recently issued a 5,400-word executive order directing all federal agencies to emphasize "environmental justice" in every decision they make.
After ducking questions for weeks on what remediation, remuneration and environmental justice the administration is providing East Palestine, Ohio residents following a toxic railway chemical spill, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained the EO in her inimitable style:
The President has "the most ambitious climate agenda than any other president in history, and one way that you can look at this today is that he's continuing to deliver on that ambitious agenda, and he's not done yet. This is a continuing continuation of what he's promised the American people."
In plain English, the order enables each agency to implement this infinitely malleable "justice" concept to justify whatever policies and regulations it is implementing in the name of abating the "climate crisis" and "fundamentally transforming" America's energy and economic systems. It also allows agencies to ignore any "justice" issues that might interfere with their plans.
The Environmental Protection Agency quickly issued a press release citing justice and "equity" rationales for eliminating coal and gas power plants, internal-combustion vehicles, and gas stoves, ovens, furnaces and water heaters – all of which it says contribute to global warming.
EPA claims "children are uniquely vulnerable" to climate-related impacts like rising temperatures that can cause "lifelong consequences" for their concentration, learning, academic achievement and earnings potential. Moreover, these effects "disproportionately fall on children who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color, low income, without health insurance, and/or have limited English proficiency."
Of course, air conditioning reduces high temperatures in schools and homes, thereby avoiding these far-fetched problems. During wintertime, gas furnaces (or reliable, affordable coal or gas-generated electric heat) keep students warm when outdoor temperatures plummet to deadly lows.
However, both cooling and heating systems will become unavailable or unaffordable to these same classes of people in the wake of government decrees that coal and gas be banished, and electricity provided by expensive, weather-dependent wind and solar. That's already happening in Europe.
The Economist reported that 68,000 people died in Europe this past winter because energy prices have rocketed so high that many families can no longer afford to heat their homes properly.
Meanwhile, EPA asserts that closing coal and gas power plants would prevent 1,300 "premature deaths" by 2042 from global warming. That's a hypothetical 65 deaths annually.
Allowing for Europe versus US population differences, more than 30,000 Americans would die needlessly every year, if energy prices soar as high as they have in Europe. Minority and low and middle income families would be disproportionately affected and least able to afford proper winter heating. Without affordable, dependable AC, thousands more would likely die during sweltering summers. Just keeping lights on and computers running requires reliable, affordable electricity.
EPA didn't consider these realities in its news release, regulations or "environmental justice" contortions, because the agency is pushing an agenda, not providing honest, scientific evidence. The agency and Biden EO routinely ignore inconvenient realities like the following, as well.
Eliminating coal and gas power plants will triple America's need for electricity generation, to replace that power and provide battery backup storage. Rushing to do this before America has sufficient reliable alternative electricity supplies will destabilize power grids, causing repeated blackouts, disproportionately affecting families that cannot afford emergency backup generators (most of which require fossil fuels).
EPA rules dramatically reducing tailpipe emissions will force families to buy electric cars that average over $65,000 in price – and light, medium, heavy-duty and long-haul trucks that could cost twice as much as gasoline or diesel versions. Blue-collar families will be hammered hardest.
Farmers will be compelled to pay far more for electric tractors, and for natural-gas-based fertilizers and pesticides that will likewise be much more expensive. Food prices will soar still higher, forcing disadvantaged families to choose between food, heat, clothing and other needs.
Families and landlords will also be required to replace high-efficiency gas furnaces with pricey electric systems ... or expensive heat pumps that don't even work well in sub-freezing weather.
Middle class families will see their living standards plummet. Poor households will be unable to improve their lives. Rural communities will become increasingly isolated, turned into energy colonies for heavily Democrat urban voting blocs, with wind turbines, solar panels and transmission lines horizon to horizon.
Federal agencies will likely just parrot the Bank of England's callous, imperious attitude: People just "need to accept that they're worse off and stop trying to maintain their real spending power." Ruling elites will do fine. Why would they worry about us commoners?
Soaring prices for intermittent electricity will force many factories and businesses to close. Workers will have to take low-pay jobs installing, maintaining, repairing and replacing wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment – and hauling worn out, obsolete and broken parts and dead battery modules to enormous rural landfills.
"Clean, renewable, sustainable" energy technologies require vastly more non-renewable, unsustainable metals, minerals and other raw materials than their fossil fuel counterparts. The overseas mining, processing and manufacturing operations run on fossil fuels and emit vast quantities of carbon dioxide and toxic air and water pollutants, generally under minimal or no laws governing pollution ... or slave and child labor, workplace safety, health, or other environmental justice and human rights issues.
The supply chains and even finished product chains increasingly run through China, which is also taking over electric vehicle markets. Especially under a Biden Administration that opposes almost any mining or processing in the USA, China will only increase its dominance of cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel and other critical material supplies, all but necessitating tepid responses to Chinese (and Russian) military and territorial ambitions. The injustices inflicted on Asian and African communities are serious and obvious.
Yet even doubling or tripling today's global mining levels would not meet the soaring materials demands for the millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, billions of battery modules, millions of heating systems and transformers, and hundreds of thousands of miles of new transmission lines that an American Net-Zero economy would require. Soaring demand for insufficient supplies will send prices skyward.
A global energy transformation would likely be catastrophic for affordable energy, economies, jobs, living standards, shortened human life spans, human rights, wildlife and environmental quality.
Abundant, reliable, affordable, mostly fossil fuel energy has liberated people from back-breaking toil. The energy scarcity and de-development promoted and imposed by Biden and other Western governments is rolling living standards, health and personal freedoms backward, in the name of "climate justice." The adverse effects will be worst for women, the poor and people of color, especially beyond US borders.
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini wrote in The Doctrine of Fascism: "The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its actions felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social and educational institutions, and all the political, economic and spiritual forces of the nation." [emphasis added]
That description sounds all too appropriate for the situation America and the world increasingly confront today. The gravest threat to our living standards, freedoms and true justice is not from climate change. It is from dictatorial edicts imposed in the name of controlling Earth's perpetually fickle climate.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, climate change, environmental policy and human rights.