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By Diana Furchtgott-Roth*
With reports that classified documents were found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania, questions arise about the potential connection between the university’s receipt of $54 million in Chinese donations and President Joe Biden’s promotion of energy policies that are strengthening China’s economy at the expense of our own.
Under Biden’s anti-fossil fuel energy policies, Americans have been left with higher costs and a weaker economy while China has gained a larger market for its “green energy” wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicle batteries.
Could the money and the policies be related?
The New York Post reported that tens of millions in donations to the University of Pennsylvania came from Chinese donors after the Penn Biden Center was first announced in 2017.
Between 2017 and 2019, Biden also allegedly received $775,000 from the university, although he had no teaching responsibilities.
Around the same time, Biden’s son, Hunter, was conducting lucrative deals in China that are alleged to have included a cut for Biden.
The National Legal and Policy Center filed a complaint with the Justice Department in 2020 alleging that Hunter Biden’s Chinese energy client, CEFC, was trying to avoid registering as a foreign company.
One reported text message regarding CEFC in May 2017 from Hunter to his colleague, Tony Bobulinski, stated, “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents … which is much more expansive than people who should know choose not to know.”
The Chinese donations seem to be paying off. The Biden administration is following California’s lead with a goal of transitioning to sales of only battery electric vehicles by 2035; an executive branch focus on climate change; and support of the environmental, social, and governance movement.
Battery Electric Vehicles
The California Air Resources Board has issued a rule that all new vehicles sold in the Golden State be plug-in hybrid or pure battery powered by 2035. In Washington, Biden issued an executive order calling for half of the nation’s new vehicle sales to be electric vehicles by 2030 and instructed the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to “coordinate the agency’s activities” with the state of California.
The rule and executive order trade America’s energy security—and its reliance on inexpensive domestically-produced oil and natural gas—for dependence on batteries made in China, reportedly with slave labor from the Xinjiang region. America cannot produce these batteries at a lower cost than those that are slave-made in China.
Moreover, electric vehicles have limited range and are more expensive than equivalent gasoline-powered vehicles, so the orders emanating from the White House will raise the costs of transportation for Americans—further weakening the U.S. economy. More money spent on cars also means less money to spend on other products and services.
Over the last year, executive branch agencies have used climate change to justify slowing the production and delivery of U.S. oil, natural gas, and coal, and to encourage the use of wind turbines and solar panels made in China. This drives up Americans’ electricity bills. And, once again, it’s the Chinese who profit: Seven of the top 10 wind and solar manufacturers are Chinese.
- The administration is actively discouraging investment in oil, gas, and coal, claiming that such investments pose a risk to the environment. Companies producing and relying on conventional fuels are finding it harder to get capital to expand because they face higher rates to borrow.
- The Department of Transportation is prioritizing climate initiatives such as funding for electric vehicles, charging stations, and electric transit, as well as bike and pedestrian paths.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is slowing the approval of new pipelines to carry oil and gas from the interior of the country to consumers nationwide as well as to the coasts, where it can be exported.
- The Interior Department has called for fewer leases for companies to drill for oil and gas on federal lands, higher royalties for those leases, and a more complex bidding process to screen buyers, knowing that this raises prices for consumers.
- Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler has proposed rules to require private companies to disclose information about governance and management of climate-related risks, how climate-related risks will affect companies’ strategies and outlooks, and the effects of climate events such as hurricanes and wildfires on financial statements.
- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates banks, has appointed a new chief climate risk officer to oversee climate-driven risks to banks. If she deems investments in oil and gas “risky,” banks will be discouraged from lending to oil and gas companies—reducing available capital to further develop resources.
Environmental, Social, and Governance Movement
Led by BlackRock Inc. and State Street Global Advisors, major financial institutions are pressuring international development organizations, private corporations, and pension funds not to invest in conventional fuels. This weakens America, which produces these fuels, and helps China, which manufactures the alternatives—wind turbines and solar panels—using coal-fired power plants.
ESG means fewer jobs for Americans, more jobs for the Chinese.
As my colleague, Heritage Action for America Executive Director Jessica Anderson, explains, “The ESG movement is set on taking over culture and business to control working Americans.”
On its website, State Street suggests four ways to influence companies’ investments, all of which would benefit China. First, require countries to adopt regulations to reduce carbon emissions. Second, raise consciousness of climate change through “more ESG education, guidance, solutions, and analytics.” Third, take over corporate boards and use customers and investors “to compel companies and organizations to address climate risks and opportunities.” Finally, organize global pledges to cut fossil fuel carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.
By following the ESG movement and discouraging investments in conventional fuels, America is giving up geopolitical power overseas as well as economic strength at home. For example, China is financing the production of coal-fired power plants in developing countries that American institutions refuse to fund, giving the Chinese significant influence as it helps those countries provide cheap power to homes and industry.
Some might justify these “gifts” to China on the grounds that the world’s climate will benefit from lower emissions as a result of U.S. decarbonization. But China is producing the wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries it sells to the U.S. with coal, increasing global emissions.
Consider that America has 225 coal-fired power plants and China has 1,118 (half of all the coal-fired plants in the world). Since 2010, America has reduced coal-fired electricity generation by 100,000 megawatts; China has increased it by 580,000 megawatts. Between 2005 and 2020, America cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 970 million metric tons, while China increased its emissions by 4,689 million metric tons.
Many people have been puzzled that Biden has oriented American energy policy toward a country that enslaves its people, steals intellectual property from the United States, and threatens our allies and partners.
The ongoing federal investigation into son Hunter’s multimillion-dollar Chinese business deals and the reports of tens of millions of dollars in Chinese donations flowing to the University of Pennsylvania just as it was creating Biden’s new think tank may give a clue as to why.
*Diana is director of the Center for Energy, Climate and Environment and the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow.
This article is part of an agreement between El American and The Heritage Foundation.