Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with crafting the adage, “The only constant in life is change,” but he shouldn’t be. An observation so patently true in all places and every age deserves no attribution. The vicissitudes of 2022 are wracking Europe as it hastens to stave off the coming cold and dark resulting from energy policies that have rapidly devolved from adequate to antiquated. Squinting at a world in flux, President Joe Biden should harken to common sense and do the same.
For more than a decade, Europe has labored to reduce its atmospheric carbon dioxide by replacing emissions-heavy fossil fuels with renewable alternatives, supplemented with clean natural gas from Russia. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated the folly, though, of becoming energy-reliant on a dictatorial regime with a habit of devouring its neighbors.
For the European Union’s assistance to Ukraine, Mr. Putin has closed the valve on the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline as punishment. With the loss of nearly 40 percent of the EU’s natural gas, market shocks have sent the cost of 1 megawatt of electricity soaring from less than $80 in spring 2021 to the current rate of $211.
Germany last week announced a $64 billion appropriation to subsidize citizens’ energy bills and stave off recession, while the United Kingdom (UK) mulls a similar, $110 billion package. Europeans can’t burn government checks to stay warm, though, so shortages mean rationing and deprivation.
New U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss, for one, contends the obvious solution is to unshackle domestic energy by lifting a current ban on fracking for natural gas. She voices doubts over trendy Old World infatuation with new energy sources when adversaries control the switch. “I want to see us using more of our U.K. energy supply, including more oil and gas from the North Sea and nuclear power in Scotland.”
Still, Mr. Biden and fellow New World Democrats appear determined to stay the course in pursuit of their goal to reach “net-zero” emissions nationwide by 2050. The Biden Interior Department has clamped down on gas and oil drilling, leasing the smallest acreage offshore and on federal lands in more than 50 years, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Consequently, natural gas bills for U.S. consumers have more than doubled during the past year. Gasoline prices also doubled, but with the president having channeled 29% of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve into the supply line, the average cost per gallon currently stands at “only” 60% that of a year ago.
Even as California leads the anti-fossil-fuel charge with its mandate for phasing out the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, the “green” Golden State warns residents to refrain from charging their electric vehicles during peak evening hours for fear of blackouts.
Unless President Biden changes course, Americans are destined to face energy woes as debilitating as those currently suffered in Europe and, closer to home, in California. American philosopher Benjamin Franklin did his ancient counterpart Heraclitus one better when he said: “When you are finished changing, you are finished.”