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Alert! Covid 2.0?! Biden urged to ‘essentially nationalize private industry’ to ensure lower energy prices & ‘a tool to combat climate change’ – ‘Invoke Cold-War Powers’ 

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden is under pressure to invoke Cold War-era powers to force more domestic oil production as the war in Ukraine strains supplies, raising gasoline prices and fueling inflation. Lawmakers and labor activists have urged Biden to compel deployment of drilling rigs and solar panels using the 1950 Defense Production Act, the same authority wielded by Harry Truman to make steel for the Korean War and Donald Trump to spur mask production to battle the coronavirus. … 

Nevertheless, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is rapidly shifting the window of what’s possible. The administration is already weighing a narrow use of the 72-year-old law to jump-start production of electric heat pumps that can help Europe curb its reliance on Russian gas.

And in Washington, lawmakers eager to tame gasoline prices and combat Russia’s energy dominance are pushing the Defense Production Act as a prescription for supply-chain bottlenecks and languished gas projects. …

The Treasury Department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund, used to avert currency crises, could be tapped to fund oil drilling that Wall Street now shuns. And the president could invoke the Defense Production Act to ease supply chain problems that are holding back crude production, by ensuring supplies of low-cost pipes, sand and other essential equipment.

It’s a novel option in Washington, where policy makers are used to grasping for the same limited set of options to confront high gasoline prices, said Benjamin Salisbury, director of research at Height Capital Markets. “There is a growing understanding that any one of these tools is inadequate.”

Beyond gas, the DPA is being considered as a tool to combat climate change.

More than 200 environmental, indigenous and progressive groups asked the president to use the DPA to rapidly scale up the production and deployment of electric-vehicle chargers, weatherization equipment and other clean energy technology.

And environmentalist Bill McKibben has pitched government officials to invoke the DPA to manufacture electric heat pumps that can help wean Europe off Russian gas.

Climate activists warn the administration risks forfeiting the campaign against global warming by propping up fossil fuels.