West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice said Tuesday he doesn’t believe the U.S. is ready to move away from coal and gas, despite President-elect Joe Biden making tackling climate change a central part of his agenda .
“We’d all be in favor of all alternative energy sources and everything if we went forward … but if we believed this nation could do without coal and natural gas today, we’d blow our legs off,” Justice said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street “.
President Donald Trump was a huge proponent of fossil fuels. His administration rolled back many regulations that affect oil, coal and gas companies during his presidency. Biden’s energy plan calls for a “100% clean energy economy” so that the US “achieves“ net zero emissions ”by 2050 at the latest and for a“ historic investment in research and innovation in clean energy and climate ”.
During the presidential debates, Biden called for a “transition” from the oil industry, although he later tempered that statement and assured him that he would not ban or move away from fossil fuels anytime soon.
The president-elect shared key tips for his climate team on December 19, including former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm for the energy secretary. People familiar with the transition told CNBC that Granholm has a strong clean energy record.
Justice said he believes that “common sense will prevail” when it comes to Biden’s energy plan and that it will be “reasonable”.
“I’ve worked very hard with the Trump administration,” Justice told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan. “If our new president is President Biden, I’ll work just as hard with him.”
Justice is a prominent ally of Trump and joined a cohort of Republicans in November who refused to recognize Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud to dismiss the election results.
The governor admitted on December 2nd that “it sure looks like … Biden will be our president”.
The billionaire governor is the richest person in West Virginia, according to Forbes. He inherited a coal business from his father and owns coal mines in five states, among other companies.
A coal company owned by Governor Bluestone Coal promised to end violations of West Virginia water pollution regulations in a settlement filed in federal court on Dec. 3, ProPublica reported. ProPublica also found that the governor’s companies have amassed more than $ 140 million in judgments and settlements over unpaid bills.