President Joe Biden has turned heads by invoking a Cold War-era law to use taxpayer money to fund electric heat pump manufacturing in an effort to curb the use of gas-powered furnaces, with experts saying the move is “corporate welfare” and using wartime policies as “instruments to advance a policy agenda.”
The plan is advertised as part of the Biden administration’s “Investing in America Agenda.” The Department of Energy (DOE) announced Friday that $169 million will be allocated for nine projects to “accelerate electric heat pump manufacturing at 15 sites across the country.”
Biden’s utilization of the 1950 Defense Production Act (DPA) gives the president “a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense.”
The DOE’s “historic” announcement boasted that Biden is using “emergency authority” on the “basis of climate change,” arguing that the funding still fits into the “national security” category by “reducing energy resilience [sic] on foreign adversaries.”
According to the agency, millions of taxpayer dollars will go to billion-dollar multinational corporations including Copeland, Honeywell International, Mitsubishi Electric, and York International Corporation.
Biden administration officials applauded the funding as a tool for job creation and fighting back against the climate change “crisis.”
“Getting more American-made electric heat pumps on the market will help families and businesses save money with efficient heating and cooling technology,” said DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “These investments will create thousands of high-quality, good-paying manufacturing jobs and strengthen America’s energy supply chain, while creating healthier indoor spaces through home-grown clean energy technologies.”
“Today’s Defense Production Act funds for heat pump manufacturing show that President Biden is treating climate change as the crisis it is,” said John Podesta, who serves as Biden’s senior advisor for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. “These awards will grow domestic manufacturing, create good-paying jobs, and boost American competitiveness in industries of the future.”
Biden’s national climate advisor, Ali Zaidi, said the president was “using his wartime emergency powers under the Defense Production Act to turbocharge U.S. manufacturing of clean technologies and strengthen our energy security.”
Experts from outside of Biden’s inner circle are criticizing the move, which comes less than two months after the DOE issued new regulations targeting traditional home gas-powered furnaces.
“This is absolutely shameful corporate welfare. But we’re to believe that, because it’s for the sake of climate change, all is well. I think that’s ridiculous,” Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in an interview with Fox News.
“Of all the Biden administration’s claimed climate emergency declarations, this may be the craziest of them all,” Lieberman continued. “There is no shortage of heat pumps — it’s just that not every homeowner wants them. Consumers ought to decide for themselves. The government has no role in tilting the balance in favor of one energy source over another. That’s clearly what’s happening here.”
American Gas Association (AGA) President and CEO Karen Harbert also slammed the move, telling Fox News the AGA is “deeply disappointed to see the Defense Production Act, which is intended as a vital tool for advancing national security against serious outside threats, being used as an instrument to advance a policy agenda contradictory to our nation’s strong energy position.”
“Increased use of natural gas has been responsible for sixty percent of the electrical grid’s CO2 emissions reductions,” she added. “This vital tool for emissions reductions and energy system resilience should not be unfairly undermined through misuse of the Defense Production Act.”
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Congressional lawmakers have also begun to voice their concern, with Rep. Erin Houchin (R-IN) calling the move “irresponsible and dangerous.”R
President Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act and spending $169 million that we don’t have on electric heat pumps in the name of climate change. All while Israel is at war and China and Russia remain a threat.
This is irresponsible and dangerous! https://t.co/qcW63fIcUX
— Congresswoman Erin Houchin (@RepHouchin) November 18, 2023