Now that President Biden has made his 2024 run official, he has plenty of work to do if he hopes to shore up his lagging support among key constituencies. According to a recent NBC News survey, a full 70 percent of Americans do not want the President to run again. One demographic to watch is younger voters, who backed Biden by a wide 61-36 margin in 2020.
Younger Americans are exceptionally aggressive and vocal on climate policies. Nearly two-thirds (62%), support phasing out fossil fuels entirely, said Alec Tyson, an associate director of research at Pew Research Center. According to a recent Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics poll, an amazing half of those polled prefer the government do more to curb climate change, even if U.S. economic growth is damaged in the process.
As friendly as Biden has been to the eco-left, and outright hostile to our domestic, traditional energy industries, he is still facing backlash from these eco-centric voters over three recent decisions dealing with energy development. As always, my state of Alaska is at the epicenter.
First, the President – through the Department of Interior – approved Alaska’s Willow oil and gas development project last month. His decision elicited a collective groan of disgust and disapproval from the environmental movement. They’d dedicated years opposing the project, and spent the weeks ahead of the final decision bombarding social media, protesting outside of the White House and using their extensive, inside access to stop Willow from progressing.
Afterward, they vented.
“Biden approved [Willow] knowing full well that it'll cause massive and irreversible destruction, which is just appalling, particularly coming from an administration who has pledged to address the climate crisis, has pledged to address environmental injustice, has pledged to address the extinction crisis,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, who, along with other activist organizations, promptly took legal action to oppose the decision.
Next, Biden greenlit the export plan for Alaska Gasline Development Corp’s goal to build an 800-mile pipeline to bring trillions of cubic feet of gas from the North Slope to homes, businesses and eventually a tidewater port for export to Asia and other Pacific Rim countries. Having previously been held up under the guise of environmental and Indigenous justice reviews, the approval on April 14 gave a significant boost to the $43 billion project.
Environmentalists went apoplectic. “Joe Biden’s climate presidency is flying off the rails,” said Lukas Ross of Friends of the Earth. Ross pointed out this was the second U.S. approval of a “fossil-fuel mega-project” in as many months.
Finally, the tipping point for climate activists may have come on April 21, when Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm penned a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), asking to “expeditiously” approve regulatory authorizations for the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia. Granholm noted the gas pipeline can "play an important role as part of the clean energy transition".
Once again, green activists hit the roof, including former National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney and current Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA), who stated bluntly, “She (Granholm) sounds like a cheerleader for the fossil fuel industry; it’s really quite pathetic.”
The same groups who previously cheered when the Green New Deal was introduced, celebrated when the Keystone Pipeline was shuttered and nearly danced in the streets when copper mines in Alaska and Minnesota were ruled off-limits to development are now blasting Biden for losing his way on what they see as an ‘existential threat’ to their survival, and turning his back on mankind.
The group Gen-Z for Change recently put out a statement that clearly spells out the position of many young voters. "There is no deeper form of betrayal than watching a president who has claimed to value the voices of youth…blatantly disregard one of our generations' largest and clearest movements." Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was even more blunt: ''Young people are plugged in and more informed than they have ever been about climate change,'' he said. ''Now they're feeling stabbed in the back.'' If Mr. Biden doesn't reverse course, ''young people stay home in 2024, that's the consequences.''
Make no mistake: Biden is a dedicated disciple to the green cult. If given another four years, he will take steps toward fulfilling his promise to “end fossil fuel.” The next 17 months will determine whether Joe Biden will turn 86 in 2028 as a two-term President or defeated, one-term leader. Ironically, voters much younger will make or break his fate, and they see the world through a very green lens. Right now, they’re seeing red, and that spells trouble for Team Biden.
Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs and opportunities. Contact him at Rick@PowerTheFuture.com and follow him on Twitter @PTFAlaska.