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Joe Biden’s Climate-Friendly Energy Revolution

Kelly Sims Gallagher speaks with The Economist about the challenges President Biden faces in developing clean-energy manufacturing in the U.S.

Amid the dust and sagebrush of New Mexico there are 61 rigs at work. The south-eastern part of the state, which sits over the shales of the Permian basin that spans the border with Texas, has over the past decade attracted shale-oil specialists, oil majors like ExxonMobil and innumerable camp followers fixing pumps, selling pipe and hauling the sand used to fracture the underground strata. About 40,000 people in the state now work in the sector; the taxes it generates pay for a third of the state’s budget; and it accounts for about 1% of America’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

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The size of any surge in American clean-energy manufacturing should not be overestimated. America is late to the game; industrial policy has already made China the world’s dominant producer of solar panels and batteries, and that is unlikely to change. “The United States needs to be clear-eyed about where it will be very hard for us to gain a competitive advantage at this point,” says Kelly Sims Gallagher a professor at Tufts University and a former adviser to Mr Obama.

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