Biden described his father’s embrace. “[He] gave a bear hug, and he said – and just cried, and said – ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. Please’.”
In his first interview since his father took office, the president’s second-oldest son told CBS News what he thought of Biden’s pleas.
“I thought: ‘I need to figure out a way to tell him that I’m gonna do something, so that I can go take another hit.’ It’s the only thing I could think. Literally,” he said. “That’s how powerful. I don’t know of a force more powerful than my family’s love…except addiction.”
Hunter Biden said that this scenario was “the hardest part of the book to write,” referring to his newly released memoir.
In “Beautiful Things,” he shares candid details of his struggle to become sober. At one point in his drug and alcohol spiral, Biden reveals he was smoking crack cocaine every 15 minutes.
He writes about spending a month in a Washington apartment bingeing on vodka while his father was vice president, The New York Times reported.
Biden’s son also credits his wife, Melissa Cohen, for helping him reach sobriety, The Times reported.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reverse efforts by President Donald Trump in the final days of his presidency to lift a COVID-19 travel ban on passengers arriving from Europe and Brazil.
Trump on Monday signed an executive order effective from January 26 which lifted the restrictions imposed last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under Trump’s plan the restrictions would be lifted on non-US nationals arriving from the UK, Ireland, most of the EU, and Brazil. The ban on travelers arriving from China and Iran would remain.
Shortly afterward a spokesperson for Biden, who will be inaugurated Wednesday, said the new president would reverse the order to extend the existing travel restrictions.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” said spokesperson Jen Psaki on Twitter.
“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” she added.
Biden last week announced an ambitious $400 billion plan to fight the coronavirus. It included a $20 billion vaccination program, funding for a scaled-up testing regime, and policies which focus on helping underserved communities.
You know what was so hot? 2020. In fact, it tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record, according to NASA. Sigh.
That was big news this week, as was a mass-retreat from corporate political donations, following the attack on The Capitol incited by President Donald Trump.
ConocoPhillips and BP said they’re suspending PAC donations for the first half of the year, The Washington Post reported. Marathon Petroleum, the largest US refiner, and Occidental Petroleum will also temporarily ban contributions. Exxon and Chevron didn’t go so far and said their PACs are under review.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the industry is aligning with President-elect Joe Biden’s priorities …
David McNew/Getty Images
Big Oil promises to put up a fight if Biden tries to restrict fossil-fuel development
This week, the head of the American Petroleum Institute – the most powerful oil and gas trade group – said his industry is prepared to fight policies Biden has proposed that could restrict fossil-fuel producers, per Inside Climate News. Those include:
A ban on new leasing or permitting for oil and gas projects on federal lands.
The elimination of tax credits that support the fossil-fuel sector.
Funding for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
His words: “The surest way to bring recovery to a stop is to remove affordable energy from the picture – with more regulations, more taxes, more restrictions on access,” API president and CEO Mike Sommers said at the group’s State of American Energy event Wednesday. “If lawmakers curtail resource development and energy prices spike, it’s working people and consumers who will suffer.”
Biden has proposed a plan to build out clean-energy infrastructure that he said will create jobs and help curb climate change.
Plus, oil and gas firms thought ahead and have been stockpiling drilling permits on federal lands, AP reports, so any kind of ban on federal lands would be largely symbolic.
“The permit stockpiling has centered on oil-rich federal lands in New Mexico and Wyoming,” per AP.
In other news: Total withdrew from the API Friday, after what it called a “detailed analysis” of the group’s climate positions. It’s the first major oil company to do so.
The Biden-Harris Transition
Meanwhile, Biden just beefed up his climate team
Joe Biden’s climate and energy team continues to grow, with more announcements this week.
At the White House office of domestic climate policy …
Sonia Aggarwal was selected as senior advisor for climate policy and innovation. She’s a cofounder of the think tank Energy Innovation and served as VP there prior to her appointment.
David Hayes will be the special assistant to the president for climate policy. Hayes is an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law, and was deputy secretary of the Interior Department under former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Maggie Thomas was appointed as chief of staff. She serves on Biden’s transition team and previously served as climate policy advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren and deputy climate director to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state.
Finally, Jahi Wise will be senior advisor for climate policy and finance. He previously served as the policy director for the Coalition for Green Capital, a nonprofit that aims to drive investment towards clean energy.
At the Environmental Protection Agency …
Janet McCabe will fill the big role of deputy administrator. McCabe is a professor of environmental law at Indiana University McKinney School of Law and leads IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute. She’s also an EPA alum.
At the Council on Environmental Quality …
Cecilia Martinez, Ph.D. will be the senior director for environmental justice. Martinez serves on Biden’s transition team and is cofounder and executive director at the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy.
At the Presidential Personnel Office …
Jeff Marootian was tapped to be special assistant to the president for climate and science agency personnel. An Obama administration alum, Marootian is director of DC’s Department of Transportation and serves on Biden’s transition team.
2020 by the numbers
Results are in. 2020 was a bad year (with a few things for climate-tech folks to celebrate.)
1.84: How much warmer 2020 was, on average, compared to the baseline temperature in 1951-1980, in Fahrenheit, according to NASA. 2020 tied with 2016 for the warmest year on record, the agency said.
10.3: Estimated percent decline in US greenhouse gas emissions last year, which amounts to “the single largest drop in annual emissions in the post-World War II era,” according to Rhodium Group. The pandemic is largely responsible for the dip.
112: The number of oil companies that filed for bankruptcy protection, including producers, oilfield service firms, and midstream companies, according to Haynes and Boone.
237: The number of companies that went public via SPAC, more than four times as many as in 2019, per Clean Edge. Two dozen or so were cleantech firms, the firm said. 15 were EV-related, according to Raymond James.
429,300: The number of clean-energy workers who lost their jobs, according to an analysis by BW Research Partnership. The oil industry is expected to report similarly high numbers.
Major Wall Street banks revised their oil forecasts as prices soar
JPMorgan is among the major banks to revise their outlook for oil prices, which were hammered as the pandemic dried up demand for gasoline and jet fuel. On Wednesday the bank moved forward its price forecast by six months.
What to expect: JPMorgan now thinks Brent crude, the international benchmark, will breach $60 a barrel in the second quarter and average as high as $68 – about where it was at the start of last year – towards the end of 2021.
Bank of America said something similar this week: “A trend following rally to $67 can’t be ruled out.”
“JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Wednesday joined Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Well Fargo & Co. in upgrading Exxon to ‘buy’ in recent weeks,” reports Bloomberg’s Kevin Crowley.
Still, US producers are unlikely to ramp up production much because they’re under pressure to reign in spending, JPMorgan analysts said.
In other Exxon news: The SEC has launched an investigation into Exxon after an employee filed a whistleblower complaint that the company overvalued an important asset in the Permian Basin, the top US shale field, the Wall Street Journal reported.
3 other big stories this week
Oil major Equinorwon a contract to supply offshore wind energy to New York state. It’s the largest renewable energy deal for a US state.
Electric-bus maker Proterraannounced it’s going public via SPAC.
Chevron made an investment in Blue Planet, a startup focused on carbon capture and utilization.
I thought we were done with horrible weeks for a while, but 2021 is already showing us that it, too, can surprise.
For Democrats and clean-energy advocates, there was, however, some good news: Democrats won both runoff elections in Georgia to regain control of the Senate. That’s a big deal for pretty much every issue, from healthcare to voting rights to energy.
Though there’s a hefty caveat: The Democratic majority is so slim that any major (and controversial) bills – including those related to climate change – are unlikely to find traction.
Who wants one stressful election when you can have two?
The news: Democrats won both runoff elections in Georgia, giving them 50 of the Senate’s 100 seats. The tiebreaking vote will fall to incoming Vice President Kamala Harris – in other words, Dems regained control.
Not all Democrats may vote in favor of big climate bills.
Plus, don’t forget about the filibuster. It’s unlikely to go away anytime soon, and it essentially means that climate-specific legislation could require 60 votes.
Fun fact! Filibuster comes from the Dutch word for pirate. “It came to mean a legislator who was ‘pirating’ parliamentary proceedings,” NPR reports.
All eyes on Joe: Not that Joe. I mean Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He’s “the most powerful person in US energy policy right now,” said Ed Crooks, Vice-Chairman of Americas at Wood Mackenzie.
Of all Democratic Senators, he appears most likely to oppose legislation that constricts the fossil-fuel industry, experts told me.
The high-profile fight to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling appears set for a rather anticlimactic ending.
The news: After a three-year push by the Trump administration to allow oil companies to drill in ANWR – considered to be the largest remaining swath of wilderness, and likely home to a huge amount of oil – leases for acreage in the refuge finally went up for sale. But there were just three bidders … one of which was the state of Alaska.
Oh, and half of the available leases had no takers at all.
You may remember that a big reason for opening up the refuge was the revenue these leases could raise. Now it appears they could net as little as $15 million.
Amid a global pandemic and a historic oil market collapse, clean-energy stocks casually soared. The ECO index, a benchmark for clean energy, grew last year by a stunning 203%, according to Raymond James.
For comparison, the S&P 500 grew by 16%, while the E&P Index (including companies that find and extract oil and gas) fell by 38%, per Raymond James.
This year: It’s already looking up, thanks to a Democratic takeover of the Senate and a late-2020 relief bill that included all kinds of goodies for clean energy. This year it’s already up about 20%. (The S&P is up 3%).
For investors: Analysts are predicting another good year for the sector and sharing their top picks.
Ps. I went cross-country skiing on New Year’s Day and discovered it’s not as boring as skiing on a flat surface sounds. I also discovered that it’s a great workout because I woke up cocooned by sore muscles.
A plane that President Donald Trump sometimes uses is scheduled to land in Scotland the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration, a Scottish newspaper reported.
The Sunday Post reported that the US military plane is scheduled to land at Prestwick Airport, near Trump’s Turnberry golf resort, on January 19.
Multiple reports have suggested that Trump is planning to skip Biden’s inauguration to host a rival, attention-grabbing event at the same time.
However, a White House spokesman, Judd Deere, told Insider the president has “no plans” to visit Scotland adding: “anonymous sources who claim to know what the President is or is not considering have no idea. When President Trump has an announcement about his plans for Jan. 20 he will let you know.”
The White House has denied that President Donald Trump will fly to Scotland for Joe Biden’s inauguration following a report that a US military plane the president sometimes uses is scheduled to land in the country the day before the event.
The Sunday Post, a weekly Scottish newspaper, reported that a US military Boeing 757 was scheduled to land at Prestwick Airport – near the president’s Turnberry golf resort – on January 19, one day before Biden’s inauguration in Washington, DC. The report fueled speculation that the president plans to leave the US for his luxury Scottish golf resort rather than attend Biden’s inauguration.
While White House spokesperson Judd Deere initially said Trump was not ready to announce his plans for January 20, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later told Business Insider: “This is not accurate. President Trump has no plans to travel to Scotland.”
“We are not allowing people to come into Scotland, and that would apply to him just as it applies to anybody else,” Sturgeon told Scottish reporters on Tuesday. “And coming in to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.”
The president has used the plane on previous trips abroad, though a source at the airport told the newspaper it is more frequently used by the vice president or the first lady.
A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, told Business Insider on Tuesday morning: “Anonymous sources who claim to know what the President is or is not considering have no idea. When President Trump has an announcement about his plans for Jan. 20 he will let you know.”
Sources at Prestwick Airport told The Post that US surveillance aircraft had flown above Turnberry in recent weeks, adding to speculation about a presidential visit.
Reports have suggested that Trump, who has refused to acknowledge Biden’s election victory and has claimed without evidence that the election was rigged against him, is planning to skip Biden’s inauguration.
Even if he does not travel to Scotland, he could be planning attempt to host a rival, attention-grabbing event at the same time. That could complicate several things, including the transfer of the so-called nuclear football, a suitcase giving the president the means to conduct a nuclear strike.
Axios reported in December that Trump was considering a plan to fly in Air Force One to Florida, then address supporters at a rally held at the same time as Biden’s inauguration.
And NBC News reported that Trump was considering announcing a presidential run in 2024 on Inauguration Day.
Prestwick Airport did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.