- The Washington Times
Friday, October 23, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden unleashed a gusher of criticism for his debate comment about making a “transition” from the oil industry, but former Democratic primary rival Pete Buttigieg was solidly in Mr. Biden’s corner.

“Remember, there’s no do-over on climate,” Mr. Buttigieg said Friday on CNN. “We’re literally entering the event horizon. We’ve got a matter of just a few short years before some of these things become irreversible.”

Mr. Biden sought to clarify his comments after saying at Thursday night’s debate that “I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” his response to a question from President Trump over whether the Democrat would “close down the oil industry.”

“We’re not getting rid of fossil fuels. We’re getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we’re not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time … probably 2050,” Mr. Biden said on the tarmac before boarding his plane back to Delaware, as shown on video.

That clarification did little to ease concerns about what an oil-and-gas shutdown would do to the economy.

“Phasing out oil as Biden says he wants to do means mandating electric cars,” tweeted Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, adding that it would “devastating to Iowa farmers.”

Not all the criticism came from the right. Several Democrats in swing districts sought to distance themselves from Mr. Biden’s comment, including Rep. Kendra Horn, Oklahoma Democrat.

“Here’s one of the places Biden and I disagree,” she tweeted. “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. I’ll keep fighting for that in Congress.”

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, New Mexico Democrat, tweeted, “I disagree with VP Biden’s statement tonight. Energy is part of the backbone of New Mexico’s economy. We need to work together to promote responsible energy production and stop climate change, not demonize a single industry.”

Mr. Buttigieg, meanwhile, criticized the president, saying he was “trying to cling to this vision that nothing has to change.”

“What I love about Joe Biden’s way of talking about the climate is he makes clear that this is not a choice between doing what’s right for the climate and doing what’s right for the economy,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “The only way to have the economy continue to grow is to have an economy wired up to the benefits of the many transitions and improvements that we’ve got to make.”

Mr. Biden’s clean-energy plan calls for net-zero emissions in electricity generation by 2035, and net-zero emissions across the economy no later than 2050, which would essentially mean halting the use of oil, natural gas and coal.

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