Politico

Conservatives pounce on Biden’s desire to move away from oil


Conservatives pummeled former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday for saying he wanted to transition away from the oil industry, accusing the Democratic nominee of being callous with the economy in his proposals for tackling climate change.

“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden said during the final presidential debate.

“Oh. There’s a big statement,” President Donald Trump responded.

“It is a big statement,” Biden shot back.

Biden has called climate change an existential threat to the country and said he would prioritize renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind. He emphasized that the transition would be gradual, but said he wanted to move to net-zero emissions in energy production by 2035.

After the debate, Biden clarified to reporters that he didn’t want to end the fossil fuel industry, but rather get rid of subsidies for fossil fuels.

Still, Biden’s remark onstage in Nashville, Tenn., led to a fierce backlash from Republicans and Trump.

“Basically, what he’s saying is that he is going to destroy the oil industry,” Trump said. “Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania? Will you remember that, Oklahoma?”

Throughout his campaign appearances, Trump has cast Biden’s plan for combating climate change as an unrealistically expensive enterprise that would harm American industries. Shortly after the debate, the Trump campaign cast Biden’s comment as the most shocking moment of the event, saying that moving away from the oil industry would “kill millions of jobs and cripple our economy.”

Other conservatives chimed in on Biden’s comments a short while later. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tweeted that a transition from the oil industry would mean a “transition away from Texas.”

Biden “just killed paycheck earned by hardworking families in Texas,” Abbott wrote. “Remember that on election day.”

Rick Perry, Trump’s former Energy secretary and a former governor of Texas, echoed those sentiments in his own tweets denouncing a transition away from the oil industry, saying such a move would effectively kill 11 million jobs.

The opposition wasn’t just from Republicans. Kendra Horn, a Democratic House candidate in the oil-rich state of Oklahoma, tweeted that she disagreed with Biden, saying, “We must stand up for our oil and gas industry.”

“We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s consumer friendly, values energy independence, and protects OK jobs,” she wrote.

During the debate, Biden emphasized support for his energy plan among labor groups for creating new jobs in the clean-energy sector. His campaign points out that solar installers and wind turbine technicians are foreseen as two of the fastest-growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It’s the fastest-growing jobs and they paid good prevailing wages, 45, 50 bucks an hour,” Biden said. “We can grow and we can be cleaner if we go the route I’m proposing.”

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