On Comedy Central, Biden Calls For Oil’s Demise In a Decade – And Coal’s Even Sooner

Biden wasn’t joking on Comedy Central’s "Daily Show" this week when he said the U.S. could rapidly eliminate all fossil fuel use within a decade – and nix coal in an even shorter timeframe. Energy experts aren’t laughing.

March 15, 20234 min read

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President Joe Biden went on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” this week to discuss energy and climate change. 

Host Kal Penn asked the president how he would respond to young people who feel he’s not doing enough to address climate change. 

Biden said, without any hint of humor, that his administration has “gone faster than anyone’s ever gone” in transitioning America away from fossil fuels.

Even so, he also said that “we’re going to need fossil fuel for at least 10 more years.” 

He then went on to say that the United States can get rid of coal entirely within a shorter timeframe. 


The statement that we can rapidly eliminate the energy source that supplies about 80% of the world’s primary energy was a bit of a departure from what Biden said in February during his State of the Union Address. 

In the address, Biden said another decade of oil was enough, which drew laughter from lawmakers in the audience, to which Biden added, “And beyond that, we’re going to need it.” 

American Coal Council CEO Emily Arthun, who lives in Gillette, questioned how Biden thought the energy transition to wind and solar was going to happen without metallurgical coal, which is used in the production of steel and other heavy industries. 

Coal also is a source of rare earth minerals, Arthun said, which are vital to all kinds of electronics, including wind turbines and batteries. 

Powering the grid with wind and solar farms will require an extensive buildout of transmission lines – by some estimates the grid will need to be three to seven times larger – which will require large amounts of steel production. 

Arthun said the U.S. would also have a hard time maintaining a reliable electricity supply if coal plants, which use thermal coal like that produced from Wyoming mines, were rapidly retired in less than a decade. About 20% of the nation’s electricity is produced in coal-fired plants. 

As more transportation, home heating and appliances are electrified, the demands on the grid also increase, Arthun added. 

“While we’re taking baseload electricity off the grid, we won’t be able to sustain our needs. We’ll face rolling brownouts and blackouts,” Arthun said. 

Confusing Statements

David Blackmon, a longtime energy analyst and writer, said that it’s becoming more confusing listening to Biden and his appointees talk about energy. 

Earlier this month, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm remarked at CERAWeek, an annual energy conference that was held in Houston, Texas, that “oil and gas is going to remain a part of our energy mix for years to come.” 

“There’s not a credible service on the face of the earth that estimates we will be able to eliminate fossil fuels — coal, oil, natural gas, any of them — within the next 10 years,” Blackmon said. 

Despite claims that the world is moving away from fossil fuels, global consumption of coal, gas and oil is increasing, and no long-term trends show a reversal, according to data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy. 

Besides the energy derived from fossil fuels, there are thousands of products made from oil, including clothing, fertilizers, food preservatives and aspirin. 

Energy Absurdity 

Blackmon said a big part of the problem is the national media and poor messaging coming from the oil industry, which is often reluctant to openly defend its product.  

The American Petroleum Institute “spends $80 million to $100 million on slick ads every year. I see their ads on TV, and it’s hard to know what it is they’re advertising,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon’s substack, which is called “Energy Absurdities,” tracks misinformation concerning fossil fuels and the energy transition coming from various media sources. 

On Wednesday, Blackmon wrote about comments made by CNN’s chief climate correspondent during a segment on the news network. 

Weir was criticizing Biden’s approval of the Willow project in Alaska

“At the current rate of electrification, and the price of renewables coming way down, the country’s not gonna need a national petroleum reserve in six years,” Weir said. 

Blackmon said that well-funded groups, such as Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity, send out talking points that reporters like Weir repeat without question. 

“Weir spends about a minute and a half throwing out some of the most ridiculous disinformation related to energy,” Blackmon said. 

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