Mar 2, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden's State of the Union climate pitch was short but revealing

Illustration of a lectern floating on an ice berg.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

President Biden's State of the Union speech highlighted the White House political strategy on climate and energy markets as Russia's invasion of Ukraine sends oil prices skyward.

Driving the news: Here are three takeaways...

1. The economic pitch was front and center. That's always been true for Biden when talking about clean power and electric vehicles, but the appeal was especially direct last night.

  • "Cut energy costs for families an average of $500 a year by combating climate change," he said, and also said that lowering EV prices would save drivers "$80 a month because you’ll never have to pay at the gas pump again."
  • That was part of his pitch for the major expansion of renewable electricity tax credits and EV purchase incentives in the wider domestic spending package that has stalled in Congress.
  • Biden also sought some credit, touting jobs stemming from Ford and GM's already announced plans to boost domestic EV production.

2. It was pretty light on climate overall compared with Biden's first speech to a joint session of Congress as president last April. Biden didn't offer any new proposals or initiatives and, unlike last year's speech, didn't promote the revived White House climate diplomacy efforts.

3. He didn't cede ground on oil-and-gas appeals from the GOP and industry groups.

  • Advocates are lobbying for scaling back restrictions on leasing and other development and promoting even larger exports to boost energy security here and in Europe (Bloomberg has a good look).
  • But Biden didn't talk up the U.S. reemergence as a petro-superpower in his remarks on Ukraine, instead, focusing on the newly announced release of more strategic oil reserves from the U.S. and other nations.
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