Achieving energy independence, and advancing clean energy have long been goals of the Biden administration, which set out its vision in a January statement. Today, the president expanded on what he sees as possible.
With congressional approval for his plans, Biden said, “We can take advantage of the next generation of electric vehicles. The typical driver will save about $80 a month from not having to pay gas at the pump. If your home is powered by safer, cheaper, cleaner electricity like solar, or heat pumps, you can save about $500 a month on average.
“Don’t take my word for it. The CEOs and 11 of America’s largest utility companies came to see me at the White House. They told me if we pass my plans before the Congress now typical families will see savings in utility bills immediately.
“Costs will come down even more as we innovate and develop cutting edge energy storage technologies, clean hydrogen technology, advanced nuclear technology, carbon capture and sequestration technologies.”
In closing, Biden returned to the economic impact of the Ukraine war.
“Look, I know gas prices are painful. I get it. My plan is going to help ease that pain today and safeguard against tomorrow,” he said.
“I’m open to ideas and to strengthen the plan, but I will not be put off and put it on hold. I will do everything at my disposal to protect you from Putin’s price hike. It’s not time for politics. Americans can’t afford that right now.”
Biden says his energy plan is twofold, and as well as lowering oil costs and saving American families money by tapping the reserves, he was including a directive “to strengthen our clean energy economy.”
“We need to embrace all the tools and technologies that can help us free us from our dependence on fossil fuels [and] move toward more homegrown clean energy technologies made by American companies and American workers,” he said.
“I’m going to use the defense production act to secure America’s supply chains for the critical materials that go into batteries for electric vehicles and the storage of renewable energy, lithium, graphite, nickel, and so much more. We need to end our long term reliance on China and other countries for inputs that will power the future.”
He went on to list the benefits he sees from his action.
“Yes, building a base in America clean energy future will help safeguard our national security. Yes, it will help us tackle climate change. Yes, it’s going to help us ensure that Americans create millions of good paying jobs for generations to come. But the most important thing my plan will do right away is save your family money.”
Biden confirms draw on oil reserves to lower gas prices
Joe Biden says his plan to release 1m barrels daily from the US strategic oil reserves will: “Ease the pain families are feeling right now, end this era of dependence and uncertainty and lay a new and new foundation for true and lasting American energy independence.”
The president is speaking live at the White House to announce the move, which he said would last up to six months and which will represent the largest ever draw ever on the country’s emergency supplies.
“I know how much it hurts,” he said of rising gas prices that have followed the decision by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.
“Putin’s price hike is hitting Americans at the pump.”
Biden makes his announcement at the White House. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP
Biden said he decided on the measure in consultation with western partners, who have joined the US in imposing economic sanctions on Russia.
“Working with our Nato allies, European partners and beyond that, we are responding,” he said.
“Thus far these actions are crippling Russia’s economy, isolating Putin from the world and helping Ukrainians fight for their country.”
at 2.05pm EDT
It also emerged during the Nancy Pelosi press conference that she is planning a House hearing on the ethics of the US supreme court, in the wake of the insurrection scandal involving Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni.
Thomas has been silent amid calls for his resignation over his wife’s supportive texts to Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows on the day of the 6 January Capitol riot, and Pelosi pointed to a lack of standards governing supreme court justices’ behavior.
“They have no code of ethics,” she said, noting that the House had already passed the For the People act seeking to introduce one, but it was blocked in the US Senate.
“Really, it’s the supreme court of the United States. They’re making judgments about the air we breathe and everything else and we don’t even know what their ethical standard is.
“Why should they have lower standards and members of Congress in terms of reporting and the rest?”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi addresses reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill. Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters
Pelosi added: “I would like to have a hearing, not the whole bill, but taking out that piece, to focus on the supreme court ethics standard legislation.
“People say it’s a personal decision of a judge as to whether he should recuse himself. Well, if your wife is an admitted and proud contributor to a coup of our country, maybe you should weigh that in your ethical standards.”
Pelosi wants inquiry on Russia’s ‘crimes against children’
The House speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for an investigation into Russia’s “crimes against humanity” over its treatment of children in the Ukraine conflict.
At her weekly press conference on Thursday morning, Pelosi said she was horrified at what she learned from five female members of Ukraine’s parliament who visited with House members on Wednesday.
“To hear the stories of the children, you know, children are my reason to be here,” Pelosi said. “When some of these parents are killed by the Russians, the children have been sent to Russia. I think we should get more evidence and documentation about the crimes against humanity that the Russians are committing to the children, in some cases with a parent, in some cases not.”
Ukraine has already accused Russia of forcibly moving hundreds of thousands of its citizens into its territory as “hostages” to force a surrender.
Pelosi said she was deeply moved by meeting the women from Ukraine, who were introduced to her by Oksana Markarova, the country’s ambassador to the US.
“These women were young, they had children, one child was two, another eight years old, small children,” she said.
“Their husbands in large measure [are] on the battlefield. They thought it was important to come to the United States to tell the American people how they see it. It was factual, inspiring, emotional.”
at 12.08pm EDT
As social media companies promise to crack down on Russian disinformation about the war in Ukraine, studies show they continue to fall short, allowing disproven narratives to reach millions.
Facebook failed to label 80% of articles on its platform promoting a fast-spreading conspiracy theory that the US is funding the use of bioweapons in Ukraine, according to a study released Friday by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).
The nonprofit disinformation research group studied a sample of posts from between 24 February and 14 March sharing external articles containing baseless claims about bioweapons. It found Facebook in 80% of cases failed to label posts as either “missing context”, containing “partly false information” or “false information” outright.
“If our researchers can identify false information about Ukraine openly circulating on its platform, it is within Meta’s capability to do the same,” said the CCDH chief executive, Imran Ahmed. “But we found that in the vast majority of cases, conspiracy theories are given a free pass.”
Read the story here:
at 11.31am EDT
The North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn will not face immediate disciplinary action over his claim to have been invited to orgies and to have seen Washington figures using cocaine.
Madison Cawthorn. Photograph: Octavio Jones/Reuters
“There’s a lot of different things that can happen,” McCarthy added, regarding possible consequences.
“I just told him he’s lost my trust, he’s gonna have to earn it back, and I laid out everything I find is unbecoming. And you can’t just say, ‘You can’t do this again.’ I mean, he’s got a lot of members very upset.”
The Guardian’s voting rights expert Sam Levine has taken a look at the US supreme court’s interest in Wisconsin’s electoral maps, and how its intervention reflects the panel’s hostility to equal voting rights nationally:
Even for experts who closely follow the US supreme court, there was something stunning about an emergency decision from the justices on Wednesday.
In an unexpected move, the court decided to throw out new districts for the state legislature in Wisconsin that had been picked by the state supreme court. But what was even more surprising was that the court’s conservative majority seemed to go out of its way to attack the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important civil rights laws designed to prevent discrimination in US elections. “Extra headspinning,” was how Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, described it. “Bizarre,” observed Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. David Wasserman, a redistricting expert at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, tweeted that the supreme court had entered “uncharted territory”.
The court’s decision in the Wisconsin case was the latest in a series of rulings that have left little pretense of how aggressively it is trying to weaken section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the most powerful provision of the law, which outlaws racially discriminatory voting practices. The court is not hiding its skepticism of the use of race in redistricting, even when it’s used to protect minority voters, and is making it harder for litigants to justify considering race when district lines are redrawn.
Read more here:
at 10.59am EDT
Mike Pence, the former vice-president who fell out with Donald Trump over his old boss’s obsessive attempts to steal back the 2020 election, has launched a policy agenda urging Republicans to look ahead instead of backwards.
“Elections are about the future,” Pence told reporters as he released a 19-page “freedom agenda” designed to guide his party’s policy positions for this year’s midterms and the 2024 presidential election, according to Politico.
Although the document promotes conservative policies designed to repair the “damage” he believes “the radical left” has inflicted on the US since Joe Biden took over the White House last year, Pence’s underlying message is unmistakable: Republicans have no business supporting Trump’s ongoing efforts to relitigate the 2020 election he lost by more than 7m votes.
Mike Pence, as Senate president, certifies Joe Biden’s election victory on 6 January, 2021. Photograph: Reuters
“He strongly believes it’s important to have a forward-looking agenda for the American people and not look backward,” Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, told reporters on the Wednesday call, Politico reported.
The agenda’s launch is seen by analysts as an attempt by Pence to position himself in the race to seek the Republican nomination for the 2024 election.
It isn’t the first time that he has taken such a swipe at Trump, whose supporters wanted to hang the then-vice-president on the day of the 6 January insurrection after he refused to cede to the one-term president’s demand to not certify Biden’s win.
He bluntly told Trump at a conservative conference in Florida in February that he was “wrong” to believe the election could be overturned.
at 10.28am EDT
Oil prices plunge as Biden mulls 180m barrel release
Oil prices fell sharply on Thursday morning amid speculation that Joe Biden will order a record release from US emergency reserves later today, intending to ease Americans’ pain at the gas pump.
The plan to release up to a million barrels daily, first reported by Bloomberg, is set to be announced at the president’s scheduled lunchtime briefing on energy. CNBC reported an initial drop of almost 6% in crude oil futures on Thursday at the news, leaving the cost of a barrel hovering around the $100 mark.
At the peak earlier this month, a barrel of Brent crude was about $139. The national average price for a gallon of gas, meanwhile, was $4.22 on Thursday, according to the AAA.
Analysts have tied high gasoline prices, caused largely by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the inflation crisis, to Biden’s slumping popularity and the Democratic party’s prospects in the upcoming midterm elections.
It’s clear Biden wanted to act sooner than later, with an NBC poll this week reflecting an approval rating of only 40%, the lowest of his presidency to date.
The White House notification of Biden’s briefing today referred to “his administration’s actions to reduce the impact of Putin’s price hike on energy prices and lower gas prices at the pump for American families.”
The US currently has about 568m barrels in its strategic petroleum reserve stored in salt domes in Texas and Louisiana, and according to Bloomberg the draw would last for up to six months and see about 180m barrels released into the US market.
Biden has tapped the reserve before, 50m barrels last November to address supply issues, but the new plan would be a record.
at 9.44am EDT
Good morning, and welcome to Thursday’s US political blog.
Joe Biden will address high gas prices in a lunchtime briefing on energy from the White House, at which he is expected to announce a record release of up to a million barrels of oil daily from US strategic reserves. Oil prices have already fallen sharply today at the news.
The Ukraine conflict continues to dominate the headlines globally, and you can follow all the developments in the Guardian’s main live news blog here.
Here’s what else we’re watching in the US today:
- The Trump-era immigration policy that blocked asylum seekers at the border because of the pandemic is likely to end on 23 May, with an announcement expected as early as this afternoon. We wrote about it yesterday here.
- The former vice-president Mike Pence has taken another dig at his old boss Donald Trump by releasing a conservative policy agenda urging Republicans to look forward, and not to focus on past grievances.
- There’s growing agitation among congressional Democrats over lack of legislative action from the Biden administration. The president met with progressive and moderate caucuses separately last night, and House speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely to be asked about it at her weekly press conference this morning.
- White House communications director Kate Bedingfield will hold her daily press briefing at 3pm.
Source by www.theguardian.com