WASHINGTON – If there's one thing that makes Americans sit up and take notice it's when gas prices and other energy costs go up. President Biden wants to reach net-zero emissions across the economy by 2050 which means transforming America's energy market and, some fear, making the U.S. more dependent on China.
This aggressive energy policy targets fossil fuels with the goal of making America 100% carbon pollution-free over the next 15 years.
It includes plans for more windmills, billions to build new energy-efficient housing, and a national network of charging stations to encourage more Americans to buy electric vehicles.
"We're gonna reduce electric consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs in the process," the president said during a recent speech about his plans.
But his critics don't buy it.
"What the Biden plan would do is actually remake the entire United States in the image of California or Europe," Joel Griffith with The Heritage Foundation tells CBN News. "And for those who don't live in those areas, well here's what it looks like. California – thanks to the renewable energy mandate and other regulations that are in place – Californians often pay up to twice as much to heat their homes, to cool their homes, and to fill up their vehicles and we see this playing out across Europe as well," he continued.
Liberal Cities Target Natural Gas
Add to that cities like San Francisco, Denver, and New York proposing or passing measures banning the use of fossil fuels in new homes and buildings.
In response, a number of states are outlawing bans over fear they would drive up energy bills, require expensive appliance conversions, and leave Americans without any alternative during major outages like many Texans experienced last winter.
While seen as an energy saver, electric vehicles remain more expensive than their gas-drinking cousins and have been slow to take off in the U.S.
"The future of the auto industry is electric. There's no turning back," Biden said speaking at a Ford plant in Dearborn, MI in May.
Along with more charging stations, Biden wants taxpayers to spend $174 billion on incentives for people to buy electric vehicles like Ford's new F-150 Lightning.
Dependence on China
However, these landmark proposals could make America even more dependent on China.
In 2019, the communist regime provided the U.S. with 80% of its rare earth imports – elements needed to manufacture batteries, wind turbines, and solar panels.
In fact, of the 35 minerals deemed critical by the Departments of Defense and Interior, China is the top global supplier for 23.
"Of course, we have a regulatory structure that makes it very difficult sometimes for companies to access those materials – that is a very real concern, and political leaders in both parties should be working to ensure that we can access those minerals that we have been blessed with," Griffith says.
In testimony to Congress, Simon Moores, with Benchmark Mineral Intelligence likened global battery supply to an "arms race."
"What western economies are only beginning to recognize," he tweets, "is that in the electric vehicle and battery supply chain, they are the developing nation, and China is the developed nation."
— Simon Moores (@sdmoores) May 9, 2021
Today China boasts 107 battery factories with 53 actively producing. The U.S. has nine and just three are active.
Reversing and Following Trump
Meanwhile, Biden reversed much of President Trump's energy decisions like canceling the Keystone Pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, and more recently trying to suspend oil leases in Alaska's Arctic refuge – something Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) called, "A naked political move by the Biden administration to pay off its extreme environmental allies."
However, now Biden must follow Trump's lead in trying to strengthen energy supply chains here at home.
"We've got to take over the world market, that's what this is about, being the best in the world and exporting these," Biden told some Ford workers while touring the plant in Dearborn.
He's directed the Energy Department to light a fire on battery research, manufacturing, and processing.
"This is going to include new rules to ensure that companies that develop new products based on federal R&D funding manufacture those products in the U.S. So what is invented in America can be made in America by American workers," explained Sameera Fazili with the White House Economic Council during a recent briefing with reporters.
But as the president works to boost new energy sources, many Americans are focused on sustaining what they use today. That issue was amplified when the Colonial Pipeline hack left five southern states with empty gas stations and long lines.
A poll by the Convention of States and Trafalgar Group finds: 80% of Republicans, 45% of Democrats, and 57% of Independent voters say pipelines are an important part of American infrastructure.
And the Pew Research Center finds 64% of Americans prefer a mix of energy sources that includes oil, natural gas, and renewables.
Transforming the way Americans think about, use, and interact with energy sources is one of the many heavy lifts Biden is attempting during his first year in office.
"This is a case where conscience and convenience cross paths, where dealing with this existential threat to the planet and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one in the same," Biden said during an energy speech.
However, he faces many hurdles and critics who predict his plans will hit homeowners and businesses where it hurts – in their pockets.