House Democrats unveiled a revamped version of the “Build Back Better” plan on Thursday, watered down to a still-colossal $1.75 trillion price tag from the $3.5 trillion that failed to pass earlier last month.
The sweeping social spending bill with $550 billion allocated to climate change alone was released hours ahead of President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe for a global summit on emissions.
“It’s a framework that will create millions of jobs, grow the economy, invest in our nation and our people,” Biden said at the White House before boarding a flight to Rome. “[It will] turn the climate crisis into an opportunity and put us in a path not only to compete, but win the economic competition for the 21st century against China and every other major country in the world.”
Except the Democrats’ package implements an energy policy that’s an across-the-board win for American adversaries from the Middle East to East Asia. The new bill continues to suppress domestic oil and gas production, leading Biden to beg for increased output from OPEC while depending on more solar power, placing greater reliance on panels produced by slave labor in China.
While the outlined framework published by the White House made no mention of drilling leases in the Arctic, the nearly 1,700-page text of the bill from the House Rules Committee maintains the permanent protections of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge present in the original draft.
The provision seeks to lock off between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil under the 1002 area previously opened for leasing in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as gas prices soar to seven-year highs. While the text is subject to change, the ban on Arctic drilling has been supported by the president. In August, Biden suspended leasing on the 1.6 million-acre stretch of the nearly 20 million-acre refuge when he reinstated temporary protections until the Interior Department conducted a redundant review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
During a CNN town hall last week, Biden said he had no plan for rising gas prices. Meanwhile, on Thursday, Democrat lawmakers held a six-hour hearing to demonize the oil industry.
“I don’t see anything that’s going to happen in the meantime that’s going to significantly reduce gas prices,” Biden said, going on to blame OPEC for withholding supply increases as Biden suppresses those same increases at home. “My guess is you’ll start to see prices come down as we get … into next year, 2022.”
The president’s outright ban on Arctic drilling 60 miles east of where operations have been conducted for decades in Prudhoe Bay complements a cascade of taxes and regulation embedded in the “Build Back Better” plan to the industry’s detriment. Biden’s months-long illegal suspension of new oil and gas leases combined with pressure on Wall Street to restrict investment in a capital-intensive industry has also driven the spike in prices at the pump.
Local indigenous groups within the refuge have lobbied for decades to open up their backyard for drilling, only to be stopped by D.C. Democrats who demand the flat-tundra surface of Alaska’s north slope remain a museum they would maybe one day like to visit. Opposition from a rival tribe hundreds of miles south has been exploited to cloak Arctic protections under the left’s moral imperative of social justice, even though drilling in the adjacent Prudhoe Bay has shown no harm to the region’s major wildlife such as caribou.