Joe Biden’s “Middle Ground” on Climate Change

Following up the last post — Reuters is reporting that Joe Biden is working out his climate change plan. It involves the words “middle ground.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump, according to two sources, carving out a middle ground approach that will likely face heavy resistance from green activists.

In other words, Biden is crafting his policy around political appeal. Paul Waldman:

It’s probably too early to criticize this vague set of ideas until we see exactly what it entails. But there’s already cause for concern: the people who have been authorized to speak to the press about this are framing it explicitly as something Biden “hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump.”

We’re not naive here. Of course candidates are going to consider how the policies they propose will be received by voters. But can you at least pretend that you first decided what the best policy would be, and only afterward set about determining the most effective way to sell it to the electorate?

Biden’s people are just coming out and saying that he has an existing election strategy — hold Democratic voters and poach conservative blue-collar white voters from Trump — and they’re fashioning his climate plan so it slots into that strategy.

First, Dems, you aren’t going to “poach” voters from Trump. Any voter who isn’t already disgusted with Trump isn’t poachable. Forget those votes. But take heart; a substantial majority of respondents in a recent poll said they won’t vote for Trump. The challenge, then, is not to poach voters from Trump but to, first, rally the base. Including the lefty-progressive base. Second, persuade disaffected voters who already don’t like Trump that it’s worth getting to the polls to vote for you. Please stop with the safe wishy-washiness that makes people wonder why they bother to vote.

Waldman writes, “it’s pretty clear that Biden suffers from a common Democratic malady, one that produces a constant fear that taking policy positions they perceive to be too liberal will produce electoral disaster.” Yeah, that’s my impression of him, too.

Back to Reuters:

The backbone of the policy will likely include re-joining the United States with the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who is part of a team advising Biden on climate change. She previously advised President Barack Obama.

The second source, a former energy department official also advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy could also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities.

A site called Sludge with which I am not familiar says that the above-mentioned Heather Zichal was once on the board of a Texas-based liquified natural gas company. That doesn’t necessarily make her a bad person, but it doesn’t look good.

Bernie Sanders has already pounced.

And see Naomi Klein —

That was my reaction to the “middle ground” headline before I’d read the article. And it’s still my reaction, although if actual climate scientists say Biden’s plan is reasonable, I will listent to them. I am skeptical, though.