Republicans Ratchet Up Fossil Fuel Insanity

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Call them what you want — Republicans, conservatives, reactionaries. The point is, elected officials with an R after their name, individually and collectively, have staked their political futures on the fossil fuel industry. Which is understandable. The industry paid to get them elected and if there is one thing a politician focuses on more than anything else, it is getting re-elected.

John Roberts and his henchmen on the Supreme Court made sure America would have the best government money could buy when they issued their abominable Citizens United ruling. The Court, in its infinite wisdom, never stopped to consider that a corporation backed by a 5 million watt amplifier can easily drown out a person on a street corner with a megaphone. Its decision effectively made corporations the holders of the sovereign power of the nation and struck the words “We the people” from the Constitution.

A recent article in The Guardian says Republicans have closed ranks around the idea that “the fossil fuel industry should be protected at almost any cost.” Need proof? Consider this. Political leaders in Louisiana — a state that has seen its air, water, and land degraded for generations by fossil fuel activity — have proposed legislation that would make it a “sanctuary state” for fossil fuels.

The treasurers of more than a dozen Republican-led states have sent a letter to John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, accusing the administration of pressuring banks not to lend money to coal, oil, and gas companies. They say the administration’s policies threaten to “eliminate the fossil fuel industry in our country” in order to promote the president’s “radical political preferences.”

Riley Moore, treasurer of West Virginia, whose office controls assets worth $18 billion, says “undue pressure” is being put on banks which could end the financing of fossil fuels and “devastate West Virginia and put thousands of families out of work.” The letter suggests Republican-led states could decide to penalizing banks that refuse to lend money to fossil fuel companies.

“If a bank or lending institution says it is going to do something that could cause significant economic harm to our state … then I need to take that into account when I consider what banks we do business with,” Moore told The Guardian. “If they are going to attack our industries, jobs, economy, and way of life, then I am going to fight back.”

Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, has instructed state agencies to challenge the “hostile attack” launched by Biden against the state’s oil and gas industries. In Wyoming, Republicans have established a legal fund to sue other states that refuse to buy its coal.

The Republican assault on renewables seems to be having an effect on the party faithful. The latest poll by the Yale Climate Connection shows support for clean energy among GOP voters has dropped dramatically over the past 18 months.

Idiocy, Lunacy, & Willful Stupidity

The word lunacy is derived from the Latin word lunaticus, which means “of the moon” or “moonstruck.” According to Wikipedia, a lunatic is someone who is mentally ill, dangerous, foolish, or crazy. If there is anyone in politics who fits that description, it is Louie Gohmert, a Republican Congressman from Texas (where else?) who asked a representative of the US Forest Service last week whether it or the Bureau of Land Management can “change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun” because “obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate.”

Goofy Gohmert told Faux Business News last month, “We can’t do anything substantive about the climate change right now when the moon’s orbit is apparently changing some, the Earth’s orbit is changing some, according to NASA.” If it were possible to lasso the Earth and tow it further into space, that would cut down quite a bit on the troublesome solar radiation that is really the root cause of global heating. It’s amazing someone other than Gohmert didn’t think of it sooner.

It’s a simple, elegant solution that would allow humans to keep on pumping poisons and toxins into the air, the water, and the land in perpetuity. In the words of Steely Dan, “What a wonderful world that would be. What a glorious time to be free.”

American Taliban

If Republicans had their way, worship of fossil fuels would be the official religion of America and anyone who questioned the wisdom of basing our society on burning coal, oil, and unnatural gas would be dragged into the public square and flogged. Government minions could break down the door of any home where environmentalists lived and haul them off to re-education camps much like the Chinese did during the Cultural Revolution. If it worked for Mao, why wouldn’t it work for The Donald and his acolytes?

If freedom means anything, it is that thought police should protect us from impure ideas. Liberty means bending the knee to tyrants and swindlers. The Founding Fathers would be so proud to see how their grand experiment has been distorted beyond all recognition by true believers who demand unswerving obedience to their twisted, hare-brained schemes.

If you think writing a letter to your Congressman will help end the madness, consider this little ditty by YIP Harburg, the satirist and lyricist who wrote “Over The Rainbow,”

Each Congressman has two ends —

A sitting and a thinking end.

And since his whole career depends upon his seat…..

Why bother,  friend? 

Delaying The Inevitable

“We are seeing desperate attempts to delay the inevitable, to squeeze one more drop of oil or lump of coal out of the ground before this transition,” Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at New York University, tells The Guardian. “They are looking to go back to a prior time but the trend is absolutely clear. The stone age didn’t end for the lack of stones and the oil age won’t end for the lack of oil,” he added, paraphrasing a quote attributed to former Saudi oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani. “If you have aspirations of higher office in some states, you just want to signal you will sue those hippie liberals. These are delay tactics and some of them are very ham-fisted.”

“The Republican response is predictable and pathetic. It is from a very old playbook,” says Judith Enck, a regional administrator for the EPA during the Obama administration. “The party will cling to fossil fuels to the bitter end. It’s so sad because so many Republican voters are damaged by climate change, if you look at deaths from the heat or wildfires we are seeing in California. But the party right now is just completely beholden to the fossil fuel industry.”

And thanks to Citizens United, Republicans will continue their warm embrace of that industry in order to qualify for the generous campaign contributions they receive from oil, coal, and unnatural gas companies.

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

Before the automobile was invented, people used to make a living by scooping up the excrement left behind by millions of horses. Today, people make a living by wallowing in the excrement left behind by coal, oil, and unnnatural gas companies. Biden has been promising a flood of new, good paying jobs in the renewable energy industry but they haven’t materialized fast enough to quiet the naysayers. Many union leaders are nervous that the workers they represent will be hurt by the transition away from fossil fuels.

Riley Moore of West Virginia says Biden’s promises of a bonanza of new jobs have proven to be an empty one. He calls the pledge to retrain miners a “patronizing pipe dream of the liberal elites completely devoid from reality. And now they are trying to sell us on the same failed idea again.”

Clearly the jobs are coming. Wind turbines, solar parks, battery installations, and transmission lines won’t build themselves. And it really isn’t Biden’s fault if sunshine and wind are free while coal, oil, and unnatural gas have to be extracted, shipped, and refined before they can be burned.

In fact, a big chunk of Biden’s plan is capping and cleaning up the thousands of abandoned wells that dot America from sea to shining sea — a job the companies should have done but didn’t because their bought and paid for shills in Washington wrote special legislation that let them off the hook.

The message from the Rupugnican crowd is that is perfectly OK to turn the planet that sustains us into a festering sinkhole just as long as they get to stay in power until the lights go out for humanity. No wonder they are so proud of themselves! What a legacy, to be able to say you presided over the demise of your own people! Puts them right up there with Stalin, Franco, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and a host or other world leaders who happily slaughtered their own citizens to maintain their grip on power.

It’s The Environment, Stupid!

One could draw an analogy between the Earth today and the crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft. Both are hurtling through space and on the edge of disaster. In one scene, a roomful of very smart people are arguing about how to get the astronauts home alive. In the background, representatives of the companies that built the spacecraft are arguing about who is responsible for the accident that imperiled the mission. Think of them as the Repugnicans who defend the very people who have placed the Earth in jeopardy.

In the foreground, a bunch of people are throwing out ideas for getting the crippled ship home. Think of them as the people who want to try geoengineering or sucking carbon out of the air with technologies that don’t exist. Then one engineer tells the group they have to turn off almost all the electrical systems or there won’t be enough power left to deploy the parachutes that will keep the capsule from crashing into the ocean and killing everyone onboard. “It’s all about power,” he says. “We have to turn everything off…now!”

Make that phrase, “It’s all about carbon emissions,” and you have a pretty good analogy for the challenge facing humanity today. We have to slash carbon emissions NOW or we are all going to die! Well, 98.6% of us anyway. It’s not a stretch to say that Joe Biden is like Gene Kranz, the mission controller who had to make the decision to order the electrical systems aboard Apollo 13 turned off. Was it a popular decision? No. What is a necessary decision? Absolutely.

We have about 8 years left to slash carbon emissions before a cascading chain of events is triggered that will put every person on Earth in jeopardy. Yet Repugnicans want to force us to burn more coal, oil, and unnatural gas to preserve our way of life? It’s hard to believe these people made it past the third grade.

When all is said and done, the odds are getting better all the time that we will make the Earth uninhabitable for humans despite having all the knowledge and all the tools we need to prevent that from happening. YIP Harburg saw all this coming and wrote an epitaph for the human race:

God made the world in six days flat.

On the seventh, He said, “I’ll rest.” 

So he let the thing into orbit swing,

To give it a dry run test. 

A billion years went by,

Then he took a look at the whirling blob. 

His spirits fell as He said, 

“Oh, well. It was only a six day job.”

If you really want to understand the dimensions of the climate warming emergency we face, take a few minutes to watch this CNN interview with Dr. Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion, in which she calls the idea that we can continue to expand our economic system indefinitely as a “form of cancer.” It’s powerful stuff.


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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

Steve Hanley has 5412 posts and counting. See all posts by Steve Hanley