Loading...

Biden Administration Pulls Support for Coal Plants, Carbon-Intensive Projects Overseas

December 29, 2021 by Dan McCue
(Photo by Ella Ivanescu via Unsplash)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has ordered an end to federal support for the construction of coal plants and other carbon-intensive projects overseas.

The policy, which was communicated to U.S. embassies earlier this month, is expected to be fully in force by the end of 2022 and will apply to all fossil fuel-related projects, “except in limited and clearly defined circumstances,” a State Department spokesman said in an email to The Well News.

The shift in policy is an outgrowth of the United States’ participation in the United Nations climate change conference, more commonly referred to as COP26, in early November.

In the email, the State Department spokesperson said the administration has elevated climate change as a core tenet of its foreign policy and that accelerating the global transition to a net-zero emissions future is a key part of that work.

“We are committed to doing so in a way that safeguards U.S. geostrategic interests and access to reliable, resilient, affordable energy, while also accounting for rising energy demand around the world.”

“This commitment, which is consistent with the president’s Jan. 27 executive order on tackling the climate crisis and the commitment the U.S. made in June along with other G7 countries to end public financing of unabated coal generation by the end of 2021, will reorient tens of billions of dollars of public finance and trillions of private finance towards low carbon priorities,” the spokesperson said.  

The cable, the existence of which was first reported by Bloomberg, said going forward the United States’ “international energy engagement will center on promoting clean energy, advancing innovative technologies, boosting U.S. clean-tech competitiveness and providing financing and technical assistance to support net-zero transitions around the world.”

Among other things, the communique — referred to by the State Department spokesman as “guidance for official international energy engagements” — emphasizes that the administration will not support the construction or operation of coal-fired power plants overseas unless and until the operators deploy carbon capture technologies to minimize their impact on the climate.

But U.S. embassies were also told that some oil and gas projects will be given exemptions if they are considered to significantly advance national security interests.

In addition, the administration said while it will not support such projects, it won’t force U.S.-based companies to stop building coal, oil and gas facilities in foreign countries.

The policy and the exemptions are intended to “steer U.S government investment toward clean energy projects that will power the future and maintain our foreign policy interests,” the State Department official said.  

“Official international energy engagement will focus on promoting clean energy, advancing innovative technologies, and providing financing and technical assistance that supports countries’ emissions-reduction goals,” they added. 

“The clean energy transition is imperative to our ability to address the climate crisis and ensure long-term energy security, but we also know that it will not happen overnight,” the official continued.

“In some cases, engagement on a carbon-intensive energy project may still be necessary to protect national security or advance development goals, and no viable low-carbon alternative exists — which is why related exemption pathways are defined in the guidance distributed to agencies. The Biden administration is committed to meeting this moment responsibly and helping to build the safer, healthier, and more prosperous future Americans expect and deserve,” the State Department official said. 

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

In The News

Health

Voting

Climate

May 24, 2022
by Kate Michael
Budget Hawks Want Carbon Taxes Despite Nominal Support from Congress

WASHINGTON — Although the House-passed Build Back Better agenda stalled in the Senate, many seek to reinvigorate discussion around its... Read More

WASHINGTON — Although the House-passed Build Back Better agenda stalled in the Senate, many seek to reinvigorate discussion around its $550 billion in climate-related provisions, including new spending as well as tax breaks for eco-friendly activities. However, with a high and rising national debt, spending opponents... Read More

May 24, 2022
by Reece Nations
GAO Requests Federal Action on Oil and Gas Methane Emissions 

WASHINGTON — The Government Accountability Office is calling for parity on federal methane emission requirements for oil and gas companies.... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Government Accountability Office is calling for parity on federal methane emission requirements for oil and gas companies. The GAO issued recommendations on Friday for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management to cut down on methane emissions from oil and... Read More

May 20, 2022
by Dan McCue
Oil and Gas Titans Embracing Carbon Capture

HOUSTON — Two titans of the Texas oil industry are teaming up on a carbon capture and transportation project they... Read More

HOUSTON — Two titans of the Texas oil industry are teaming up on a carbon capture and transportation project they believe could be the cornerstone of a future low-carbon economy in the heart of oil and gas country. The partners on the ambitious projects are Oxy... Read More

May 20, 2022
by Kate Michael
$3B in DOD Budget to Address Climate Change

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department is requesting $3 billion in fiscal year 2023 “to address the effects of climate change,... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department is requesting $3 billion in fiscal year 2023 “to address the effects of climate change, bolster … installation resiliency and adaptation to climate challenges,” and start to invest in what it believes is a more efficient airplane for the future. At... Read More

May 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
US Army Leading by Example on Climate Change Adaptation

WASHINGTON — Though its primary mission remains warfighting, the U.S. Army is playing a leading role in an entirely different... Read More

WASHINGTON — Though its primary mission remains warfighting, the U.S. Army is playing a leading role in an entirely different battle — the nation’s response to the challenges of climate change. The scope of this mission is laid out in the Army’s Climate Change Strategy, which... Read More

Colorado, Nebraska Jostle Over Water Rights Amid Drought

OVID, Colo. (AP) — Shortly after daybreak on the high plains of northeastern Colorado, Don Schneider tinkers with seed-dispensing gear... Read More

OVID, Colo. (AP) — Shortly after daybreak on the high plains of northeastern Colorado, Don Schneider tinkers with seed-dispensing gear on a mammoth corn planter. The day’s task: Carefully sowing hundreds of acres of seed between long rows of last year’s desiccated stalks to ensure the... Read More

News From The Well