President Joe Biden's sweeping ban on Russian oil and gas has prompted liberals to argue that he should further extend his executive powers and declare a national climate emergency.
In the past week, op-eds in the Nation and the Hill have argued that Biden should make use of the National Emergencies Act and the Defense Production Act to aggressively regulate the supply and demand of U.S. energy and move the nation off fossil fuels. Both articles reference climate reports published in February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, and echo a claim made last week by Biden that the invasion "should motivate us to accelerate the transition to clean energy."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) first introduced legislation to declare a national climate emergency in July 2019. Shortly after Biden was inaugurated in January 2021, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) also urged the president to declare one. Environmental groups have long advocated for the move.
The authors of the Nation op-ed, Jean Su and Maya Golden-Krasner, write that the president must withstand the pressure amid Russia's invasion to increase U.S. oil production, adding that "exploiting crises to push for more oil production has long been a favorite trick of the fossil fuel lobby."
"Biden must resist the inevitable pressure he will face to expand domestic oil production as a means of offsetting the energy disruptions caused by Russia's invasion," Su and Golden-Krasner write.
Eric Orts, the author of the Hill piece and a former Pennsylvania candidate for the U.S. Senate, also argues that dependence on fossil fuels empowers authoritarian leaders, such as Russian president Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. A transition to so-called clean energy, he counters, would "reduce the geopolitical power of petrostates such as Russia and Saudi Arabia."
The Washington Free Beacon has reported that the Biden administration's push to transition to green energy sources, however, may empower another authoritarian nation. China controls the majority of the production of the silicon wafers used in solar panels, the rare earths used in wind turbines, and lithium for electric vehicles.
Since it began on Feb. 24, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has scattered more than 2 million refugees across Western Europe and killed around 600 civilians.