Houston, we have problems

The New York Times discovers Big Oil likes the GOP


We’re putting this delightful yellow warbler snapped by my friend Jim Ankrom up front, because whoof, today is a doozy.

yellow warbler

A barrage of fossil-fueled tornadoes struck Iowa yesterday afternoon, demolishing the town of Greenfield, snapping wind turbines, and killing multiple people. The stormfront now threatens a broad swath of the nation today, from Texas to New York.

Speaking of fossil-fueled stormfronts, billionaire oil executives Harold Hamm and Kelcy Warren and Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub are holding an oil-soaked fundraising lunch with Donald Trump today in sweltering Houston, a follow-up to last month’s fundraising dinner where Trump demanded a $1 billion payout from the oil industry. Houston—where swaths of downtown are closed for fear of falling glass from buildings damaged by last week’s killer storms—is already overrun by blood-sucking monsters, so the attendees will fit right in. Trump is just missing FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, who visited the damage wreaked by Big Oil’s pollution on Houston yesterday.

Trump Oil Lunch

Greedy Oil Party

As Hill Heat has previously noted, the sharp rise in highly damaging extreme storms like these, thanks to the pollution of the fossil-fuel industry, is destroying the home insurance market.

The New York Times, which has collaborated for decades on greenwashing and climate denial campaigns with ExxonMobil,1 has discovered the collapse of home insurance due to global warming, but managed in 3,800 words to not mention that climate disasters are caused by climate pollution. The story, by Christopher Flavelle and Mira Rojanasakul, ran in today’s print edition alongside a piece about Trump’s Big Oil lunch by Lisa Friedman and Rebecca Elliott, an oil-industry reporter recently snapped up from the Wall Street Journal.

Friedman and Elliott (with an assist from Jonathan Swan) frame the multi-generational lockstep alliance of Big Oil and the Republican Party as a surprise, claiming that President Joe Biden’s pause on authorizing new LNG export terminals “galvanized oil and gas companies against Mr. Biden.”

Frankly, this is some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever read. There hasn’t been a “truce” between oil companies and Democratic candidates for the White House since the days of LBJ.

Biden’s pause is politically meaningful—he cited the “devastating toll of climate change” and credited climate activists—but only because of the extreme grip of the fossil-fuel industry on American politics. In real-world terms, the moratorium is at best a very very small step towards slightly slowing the grotesque growth of the U.S. fracking boom.

The pause is to allow the Department of Energy to assess the terrible climate footprint of LNG exports, which should have been done years ago. Instead, the US went from zero exports in 2016 to being the world’s largest LNG exporter in 2023, and is on track to double export capacity by 2030. And that’s with this moratorium, which doesn’t affect projects that have already been approved for construction.

Big Oil was in Trump’s corner in 2016 and 2020, and it’s there now.

A full page of climate news in the New York Times, May 22, 2024

A full page of climate news in the New York Times, May 22, 2024

There are two excellent events for climate nerds today:

  • At noon, the flood-risk-modeling First Street Foundation hosts a virtual panel on climate disclosure regulation with California state Senator Henry Stern and ESG attorney June M. Hu, who will discuss the new rules from California and the Securities Exchange Commission.

  • And at 6 pm, Clean Creatives, the team campaigning to decarbonize the public relations industry, is hosting a happy hour in DC at MetroBar.

The weekly climate hearing of Senate Budget chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is about water scarcity in a changing climate. Witnesses are New Mexico water policy advisor Tanya Trujillo, Southern California water manager Adel Hagekhalil, Oregon hay farmer Kevin Richards, and Iowa State soil scientist Michael Castellano. Republicans have invited the cartoonish insult artist Roger Pielke, Jr., son of climate-denier scientist Roger Pielke, Sr. and now officially a right-wing hack, as their witness.

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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1  At 12:30 pm, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) are holding a joint press conference to announce the next steps in their bicameral investigation of the oil industry’s long-running climate deception campaign.

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