Drill-Baby-Drill Democrats

Chewing gum with both sides of your mouth at the same time


The indomitable Kate Aronoff is in Houston covering CERAWeek, where oil and gas executives go wild. Don’t believe me that they can let their hair down? Check out her recordings of CERAWeek SINGS!

When the oil execs aren’t lining up for the latest innovations in climate denial, they’re dancing with glee about the money rolling in.

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, oil companies were swimming in profits from skyrocketing oil prices. The combination of high prices and low gas taxes mean that customers pay and executives and investors profit. It's a very effective way to transfer wealth from the working class to billionaires.

Raising the federal gas tax now would be both strategic and equitable: it would weaken Russia and ensure that the revenues from the speculator-driven hike in prices goes to working families instead of right-wing oiligarchs, both here and abroad. And it would help drive the clean-energy mobilization the world needs.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is working on an upstream version of such a policy, with a windfall profits tax, in the vein of the successful 1980 windfall tax:

And she’s not alone: yesterday, the EPA restored California’s power to set strong climate tailpipe standards. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) the Green Postal Service Fleet Act to ensure the U.S.P.S. buys a pollution-free fleet. And in a hearing yesterday, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) blasted the fossil-fuel industry and their enablers who have profited from blocking clean energy.

However, unlike Warren and Escobar, much of the Democratic Party is not standing with President Joe Biden’s call to reject fossil fuels and mobilize for clean energy. Of course, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) is the most outspoken; he’s using his chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee today to call for more and more domestic drilling.

As Aronoff has reported, Biden’s administration itself isn’t really on board with Biden’s rhetoric either. At CERAWeek, climate [sic] envoy John Kerry and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm have told Big Oil that Biden is committed to an “all-of-the-above transition. Granholm pleaded: “In this moment of crisis we need more supply.”1

Dozens of Democratic politicians are going even further to increase Big Oil power. Well before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a passel of Congressional Democrats proposed suspending the federal gas tax (S. 3609 has six co-sponsors from five states; H.R. 6747 has 13 co-sponsors from ten states).

Now Democratic governors Gretchen Wilmer (Mich.), Jared Polis (Colo.), Tim Walz (Minn.), Tom Wolf (Pa.), Tony Evers (Wisc.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.) have chimed in to support this legislation. It’s probably not a coincidence several govern states with major fracking industries (Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico).2 So this is a very clever move—the call for a gas-tax holiday will get them a political victory with rube voters while giving their fracking-investor-class donors the profits.

But few are as goofily drill-baby-drill as Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), the powerful chair of the House Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the oil and gas futures markets. At a hearing this week on inflation, Scott delivered a semi-incoherent monologue calling for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in response to the Russian invasion. Scott seemed not to know that KXL would bring Canadian tar-sands oil to the Gulf Coast for export and would do nothing to reduce gas prices for Americans, but boy can he string together Fox News talking points.

In excellent news, progressive Green New Dealer Vincent Fort officially announced his primary challenge to Scott on Tuesday. I’ve chipped in for his campaign, and hope you join me.

Thanks to fossil-fueled global warming, archeologists were finally able to find Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, lost 107 years ago to the now-disappearing Antarctic ocean ice. Look at those pictures!

“We can frack — into shale —

This might sound like it's a fairy tale…

That’s what dreams often do,

They seem crazy until you make them true”

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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1. She continued: “We have to still reckon with the impact of climate change. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.” Or talk from both sides of her mouth, more like. At today’s National Environmental Justice Conference, Granholm professed her commitment to environmental justice and bemoaned how “too many Black and Hispanic communities live in the shadow of oil and gas refineries.”

2. And of course Michigan is the hub of the automotive industry.

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