US House Republicans Push Through An Energy Bill That’s A “License To Pollute”

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In How to Fix a Broken Planet, Julian Cribb makes it quite clear: in order to solve climate crisis, we must “end all extraction and use of fossil fuels and their byproducts — pesticides, plastics, and petrochemicals by 2030.” It’s also evident that the divided, GOP-controlled US House of Representatives isn’t listening. This week they passed an energy bill aimed at expanding mining and fossil fuel production that would repeal sections of the landmark climate change legislation that President Biden signed into law last summer.

Don’t you love the Orwellian-name of the House Republicans’ bill? “Lower Energy Costs Act.” As if.

It has no chance of passing or even being considered in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has called it “dead on arrival,” adding that he measure is “a giveaway to Big Oil, pretending to be an energy package.”

President Biden’s advisers issued a veto threat against the bill. They described it as “a thinly veiled license to pollute.”

In a rare act of language savvy, Democrats have nicknamed the bill the “Polluters Over People Act.”

The energy bill legislation, which passed entirely along party lines on a vote of 225 to 204, was the GOP-led House’s top legislative priority of the new season. It would:

  • shorten some of the environmental reviews that are currently required before construction of oil and gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure;
  • lift some restrictions on imports and exports of oil and natural gas;
  • limit the president’s power over energy development, curb his authority to restrict or delay the development of energy on federal land, and bar him from banning the use of fracking to extract oil and gas;
  • direct the Interior Department to sell new leases to drill on federal lands and in federal waters;
  • reclassify what types of activities would be subject to high levels of environmental review;
  • loosen requirements for repair and maintenance of electric grid infrastructure and for some activities around oil and gas drilling sites; and,
  • create deadlines for environmental reviews.

The measure combines dozens of separate proposals and represents more than 2 years of work by Republicans who have cringed at Biden’s environmental activism. They counter that the current administration holds back the potential of US energy production and has elevated prices for gas and groceries.

The Real Costs of Fossil Fuels for US Citizens

Republicans presented thinly veiled arguments that the legislation would lower energy costs. The reality is that perpetuating the use of fossil fuels and propping up Big Oil costs every citizen in the US and around the world.

  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the bill would increase the deficit by $430 million.
  • As it was, in 2022, subsidies for natural gas and electricity consumption more than doubled compared with 2021, while oil subsidies rose by around 85%.
  • The bill would reduce the royalties that oil and gas companies have to pay to drill on federal lands.
  • No longer would oil and gas companies be required to pay a fee on emissions of planet-warming methane gas.
  • Other climate programs from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), including funds for energy efficiency improvements in buildings and a federal fund for greenhouse gas reduction, would be reduced or eliminated.

“The central argument and logic of this bill is that if you give Big Oil everything they want, then perhaps they will lower our gas prices,” said Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- NY). “It’s a form of trickle down fantasy that just will not make life easier for everyday Americans.”

Four Democrats actually voted in favor of the bill: Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzales of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington state. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., opposed the bill. Watch your back, Brian…

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A Primer about Renewables to Bolster Domestic Energy Production — Duh

The House Republicans boasted that their bill is designed to bolster domestic energy production, claiming Biden’s climate policies, such as pausing oil and gas leasing and banning mining development, have harmed US producers.

The House energy package “would gut important environmental safeguards on fossil fuel projects,” locking the US “into expensive, erratic, and dirty energy sources while setting us back more than a decade on our transition to clean energy,” Schumer said. The Senate majority leader supports streamlining the nation’s cumbersome permitting process for energy projects, especially those that will deliver clean energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal power. “But the Republican plan falls woefully short on this front as well,” he noted, calling on Republicans to back reforms that would help ease the transition to renewable energy and accelerate construction of transmission lines to reinvigorate the nation’s aging power grid.

It’s obvious that the House Republicans need a primer about the relationship between fossil fuels and the climate crisis.

Cribbs, in How to Fix a Broken Planet, offers a pathway to eliminate the world’s main source of toxic pollution, to replace fossil fuels and petrochemicals with renewable energy bioplastics, and develop green chemistry. To achieve these goals, countries around the world must:

  • accelerate investment in renewables;
  • develop carbon cap-and-trade schemes;
  • enhance distributed energy generation;
  • improve energy storage;
  • revamp energy efficiencies in industry;
  • decarbonize transport and agriculture;
  • construct sustainable cities and homes;
  • advance smart energy technologies;
  • promote electric vehicles;
  • investigate more methods for green hydrogen;
  • reforest and re-vegetate landscapes; and,
  • recycle materials — which will lead to reduced toxicity and increased wilderness.

The House Republicans should be reminded that fossil fuels and petrochemicals need to be eliminated because, as Cribbs notes, “they are the world’s main source of pollution, which causes colossal unseen damage to the health of wildlife and humans — directly and indirectly, through brain poisoning, reproductive dysfunction, developmental disorders, and immune system breakdown — as well as causing climate damage.”

UPDATE: We reached out to Julian Cribb about this article, and he replied as follows:

To persuade politicians, we have to persuade the majority of citizens of Earth of the urgency of action to solve the ten megathreats – and so save their own futures. The path to this is detailed in my book – but all of the solutions are practical, technically feasible and can be done if the will is there. Above all we need to help the citizenry understand they can influence the behaviour of corporations, companies, business and politics by using their power as consumers to choose sustainable products and services – and reject those which are destroying our habitable Earth. This, more than any other action, will influence those with the economic and political power that they must change their ways – or else lose their markets, their profits and their powerbase. Some may say it is impossible – but they said that of ending slavery and giving women the vote, too. If humanity wants to save itself, it will find a universal way. If it doesn’t it won’t.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack:

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