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"Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction"

A frog, finding itself in a slowly boiling pot, would jump out


The fossil-fueled collapse of the stability of our global climate system is accelerating, with deadly drought in Madagscardeadly cyclone in Mozambique, and the north and south poles under absurd, record warmth. So, this morning, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres scorched global leaders for responding to the Russia invasion of Ukraine with new pushes into fossil-fuel dependence:

“As major economies pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to replace Russian fossil fuels, short-term measures might create long-term fossil fuel dependence and close the window to 1.5 degrees. Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use. This is madnessAddiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”

One might think that record windfall profits on surging gasoline prices and complicity in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and climate-destroying pollution would be a political liability for the universally loathed oil and gas industry and the Republican Party which does its bidding.

Not according to the DC consensus!

How the DC consensus kills the climate, redux

THE CONSENSUS VIEW: Experienced climate journalists report that high gas prices have thrown Democrats into disarray, and that non-partisan energy experts find fault with Democratic criticisms of the oil industry.

Axios’s Ben Geman, in his Thursday newsletter:

Democrats look to limit gas price fallout . . . The White House and top Capitol Hill Democrats are scurrying to limit the political damage from high gasoline prices . . . Several analysts and economists said the crude-pump price discrepancy simply reflects the time it takes oil price changes to filter through the refined product market.

The Washington Post’s Maxine Joselow, in her Friday newsletter:

High gas prices present a big dilemma for Democrats . . . Meanwhile, some energy industry analysts questioned the accuracy of President Biden's claims on Twitter that the oil industry has engaged in price gouging.

Politico’s Josh Siegel, in his Friday newsletter and Twitter account:

Gas price futility . . . Democrats are scrambling to figure out what to do about record-high gasoline prices, recognizing a major political liability that has only gotten worse with Russia’s war in Ukraine. . . . Democrats blame oil companies for high fuel prices. But the facts don't back them up. Charges of anti-competitive behavior are being swatted by analysts and even some Democrats who note there is always a lag between falling oil prices & pump prices.

THE CONSENSUS VIEW, BEHIND THE CURTAIN: The “analysts” cited by these reporters (including Josh Siegel, who came from the right-wing, climate-denial rag Washington Examiner) are all members of the National Petroleum Council!

  • Cited by Joselow and Geman: Bob McNally, the president of the fossil-fuel industry’s Rapidan Energy Group, fellow at the Big-Oil-funded Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy, and member of the National Petroleum Council

  • Cited by Siegel: Kevin Book, managing director of the fossil-fuel industry’s ClearView Energy Partners and member of the National Petroleum Council

  • Cited by Geman: Jason Bordoff, head of the Big-Oil-funded Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy and member of the National Petroleum Council.

None of the reporters mentioned that these “experts” are members of the National Petroleum Council.

And as to the “Democrats in disarray” trope: in actuality, Democrats are working on multiple fronts to rein in the fossil-fuel industry — for example, Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and House Energy chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) are planning hearings to grill oil executives, as Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and others build support for a windfall profits tax.

It is true that Joe Biden’s White House is not doing enough to organize the Democratic caucus around a coherent narrative and policy agenda to claw back power and money from the Putin-backing, war-profiteering, planet-destroying oil industry. But it is also true there are Democrats on the offense, like progressive Montana candidate for Congress Tom Winter:

A LITTLE MORE SUNLIGHT: The Securities Exchange Commission, the federal agency which regulates Wall Street, today proposed a new set of rules which would require publicly traded companies “to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports.”

The proposed rule, which will be open for comment until May 20th, will require companies to regularly disclose internal carbon price metrics, climate-change risks, and the greenhouse pollution footprint of their business activities. With some caveats, the latter includes the impact of say, ExxonMobil selling gasoline or Goldman Sachs financing a coal company, known by the jargon of scope 3 emissions.

Speaking of which, you’ll be shocked to learn that Goldman Sachs has broken its 2019 pledge to stop financing coal. The investment bank has bailed out coal giant Peabody Energy to the tune of $150 million, protecting it from the commodity market whipsawing occurring in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As Adele Shraiman, the campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Fossil-Free Finance campaign, told FT’s Patrick Temple-West:

“A $150 million loan to a coal company that doesn’t violate Goldman’s supposedly ambitious climate policy should be all the proof we need that Wall Street banks can’t be left to their own devices to fix their climate problem.”

PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND: I sincerely would like to know why the top lobbyists for top environmental organizations are still arguing that Joe Manchin is open to passing meaningful climate legislation, as Manchin is going around vetoing climate-hawk nominations and demanding the president use war powers to build new fossil-fuel pipelines.

Elizabeth Gore, senior vice president for political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund:

“Senator Manchin has said he thinks there is agreement — and 50 votes — for major investments in clean energy. And we’re eager to see that move forward.”

Matthew Davis, director of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters.

“The House-passed package is ready to go. It has been well-vetted, and Sen. Manchin himself has said more than once publicly that he’s ready to move forward.”

Maybe I’m dumb and naïve, but I would rather my movement’s best-paid lobbyists to be fighting for climate hawks against the fossil-fuel war profiteers, instead of pushing happy talk about our petulant coal baron in the Senate, who as consensus has it, is a snake.1

The U.S. Postal Service Inspector General has issued a major report calling out Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for failing to electrify the postal delivery fleet:

“We identified several clear benefits of adopting electric vehicles into the postal delivery fleet, including improved sustainability and environmental impacts. Electric vehicles are generally more mechanically reliable than gas-powered vehicles and would require less maintenance. Energy costs will be lower for electric vehicles, as using electricity to power an electric vehicle is cheaper than using gasoline.”

Longtime environmental journalist Mike Grunwald is writing a new column on the global food system, which produces a third of global warming pollution, at Canary Media. In his column, he’ll argue that better factory farms with cool new technology could hold the answer, as anything else would be “unwise and unrealistic.”

The House of Representatives is on break this week, while the U.S. Senate is focused this week on the U.S. Supreme Court nomination hearing for Ketanji Brown Jackson. Tomorrow, Sen. Cantwell’s committee will be considering several pieces of legislation, including right-whale conservation, limiting PFAS, and improving tornado forecasting. On Wednesday, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) will hold a “climate solutions” hearing with electric vehicle advocates, including former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. DMs are open@climatebrad

1. Apologies to actual snakes, you’re great.

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