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How much do we want to tackle climate change, really?
Leading Democrats on the Banking Committee have the answer.
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PRESENTED BY BIG PIE
Welcome back to the daily rundown, fine readers! I’m still digging myself out of an avalanche of pie-making. I love baking and also have the problem that I like eating pie more than anyone else in my household. Anyone who wants some Triple Silken Pumpkin Pie, let me know.
Catching up on the holiday week: The Biden White House has brought on carbon capture and sequestration expert Sally Benson, of the oil-and-gas-industry-funded Stanford Energy program, to be “deputy director for energy and chief strategist for the energy transition” for the newly created Energy Division of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“Stanford innovators value the support and expertise of companies like ExxonMobil and Bank of America as we all try to help create this next era in energy.”
Also coming to the OSTP Energy Division is civil engineer and “interdisciplinary policy analyst” @CostaSamaras, an expert on electric vehicles and greenhouse pollution measurement, as “principal assistant director for energy.”
BANKRUPT POLITICS FTW: Green New Deal progressive Saule Omarova’s nomination to be Comptroller of the Currency (and thereby be one of the top banking regulators) has been tanked by a group of upper-crust corporatist Democratic senators on the Banking Committee—Mark Warner (Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)—with the support of fracker John Hickenlooper (Colo.) and Mark Kelly (Ariz.) .
The big banks hated Omarova’s nomination, because she has expressed the need to actually regulate them. Even worse, she wants government officials to be in charge of any future bailouts, instead of BlackRock or Blackstone. The banks butter up the members of the Banking Committee. Republicans were happy to beat the stuffing out of “Comrade Omarova” for growing up in Soviet Kazakhstan and wanting to crimp the business of big banks, but the Democrats needed a different public excuse to go after Biden’s nominee. It turns out it was her concern for climate that helped get Democrats to dessert her.
The “gotcha” moment came from an interview in February, in which she said of fossil-fuel companies:
As it turns out, if “we” includes the U.S. Senate, then the answer is “no.”
Unsurprisingly, Republicans hammered her on this quote; fossil-friendly Democrats like Tester joined in. Omarova repeatedly apologized, but the damage was done.
As a service to readers, here’s the quote in context, where it’s clear she’s talking about her vision for a just transition for the fossil-fuel industry, led by her proposed National Investment Authority (NIA) and the National Capital Management Corporation (Nicky Mac):
The NIA will be able to negotiate equity stakes in private enterprise that receives that public aid, be it a part of a systemic bailout or be it part of, for example, individualized restructuring help. For example, for certain troubled industries and firms that are in transition--and here what I'm thinking about is primarily the coal industry and oil and gas industry--a lot of the smaller players in that industry are going to probably go bankrupt in short order. At least, we want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change, right? But that creates a lot of the sort of loss of jobs, a lot of displacement and economic fallback that we can we cannot afford. So Nicky Mac could actually become the kind of equity investor at that point, taking over management of those companies and basically leading them through restructuring to a new technological basis and to a new technological business model.
Leftovers: Fossil-fuel divestment is “woke capitalism.” The Pentagon is trying to go green, which, as Brian Kahn writes, may give us EV Reaper drones that drop biodegradable bombs. Win! India is flooding, which is very bad. Jair Bolsonaro is doing all he can to strip-mine the Amazon, fighting against the remarkable opposition of its indigenous peoples. And it turns out that sucking up to the Koch brothers and other climate-denying carbon billionaires and downplaying global warming wasn’t such a good long-term strategy for the Smithsonian’s survival after all.
P.S. I’m serious about needing help on eating this pie, if you’re in D.C., drop me a line.