Energy industry fears Biden to declare climate emergency, seize powers like COVID pandemic

U.S. Oil and Gas Association's president warned such a move would be a COVID 2.0.

Published: July 30, 2023 12:23am

Updated: July 30, 2023 7:25am

President Joe Biden appears to be facing increasing demands to declare a climate emergency, like the one declared for the COVID-19 pandemic that had a devastating impact on the country, warns a top advocate for the U.S. oil and gas industry.

"They're leaning to that direction," U.S. Oil and Gas Association President Tim Stewart recently told Just the News. "If you grant the president's emergency powers to declare a climate emergency, it's just like COVID.”

Stewart also said such a declaration would give the president “vast and unchecked authority to shut down everything from communications to infrastructure."

He said infrastructure would include water and electricity, and that Biden also could freeze assets under such a declaration.

The White House COVID emergency that was declared by President Trump in 2020 resulted in the closing of U.S. borders and required a vaccination for federal government employees. In the following months and years, with many businesses also shuttered, the country plunged into record unemployment and inflation. 

The calls for Biden to declare a climate emergency appear to be growing – amid what is being projected to be the hottest month in recent history and concerns the heat is the result of global warming created by greenhouse gas emmisions. 

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer recently introduced legislation to require Biden to make such a declaration that also was co-sponsored by 62 congressional Democrats.

More recently, the Guardian newspaper published an op-ed reading, "Biden must declare a climate emergency. And he must do so now.”

According to Congressional Research Service, presidential emergency powers “may be exercised in the event that the nation is threatened by crisis, exigency, or emergency circumstances,” and those powers may be stated explicitly or implied by the Constitution.

“They can literally do exactly what they did in COVID,” Stewart said.

Biden has repeatedly said the world, or at least the U.S., is in a “climate crisis” and on several occasions has called it an emergency.

The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity issued a non exhaustive “legal guide” saying that Biden, under an emergency declaration, could:

  • End crude oil exports
  • End all offshore oil and gas leasing
  • Restrict U.S. fossil fuel exports and end hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas fossil fuel investments
  • Dramatically accelerate a transition to clean energy

Stewart also warned that declaring an emergency could result in the censoring of those disagreeing about a climate crisis, like critics of so-called COVID mandates on masks and vaccines were.

"If you disagree with the climate emergency, [speech] can be shut down," Stewart said. “We really need to be paying attention to that because that power could be extended indefinitely until the ‘climate emergency’ is over. Who knows how long that would last."

Short of full emergency declaration, a Los Angeles Time staff writer recently wrote a story that asked whether Americans should be subject to “occasional” power grid blackouts.

"What’s more important: keeping the lights on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or solving the climate crisis?” he asked.

Stewart said the article appears like a "softening up of the public."

"What they're saying is ... it’s your patriotic duty," he said. "It's your ethical duty or spiritual duty to the state."

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