Man Tanks and Gas Babies

Big Oil is a crime syndicate

It’s a busy week on Capitol Hill; as expected, the Democratic Senate and Republican House offer radically competing visions of how the government should respond to the climate crisis. An overview of the week’s hearings can be found below the very green roof.


The climate crisis means we have to eliminate the billions of cars powered by fossil-fueled internal combustion engines. I understand the appeal to politicians of getting rid of macho gas-guzzlers by replacing them electric man-tanks. Imagine if we could solve global warming without threatening contemporary symbols of toxic masculinity!1

But electric man-tanks like the electric F-150 Lightning are wasteful behemoths. Enterprise reporting from Jessica Brice and Sheridan Prasso uncovers how the astounding amounts of aluminum required for Ford’s marquee electric truck—about 100 times that needed for an e-bike—is refined from bauxite from strip mines in the heart of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest by the “sustainable” Norwegian concern Norsk Hydro:

A typical North American car contains about 500 pounds of aluminum, almost twice the amount 20 years ago, and electric vehicles have about 150 pounds more, according to consultants Ducker Carlisle. Ford, which made the switch to aluminum from steel for the exterior of the combustion-engine F-150 in 2015, says it uses 682 pounds of the metal in the electric version, not counting what’s in the battery and other pre-assembled components. Much of the aluminum that sheathes the truck, in addition to what Hydro provides, can also be traced to the Amazon, a Bloomberg News investigation found.

Norsk Hydro’s massive Alunorte alumina refinery in Barcarena, Brazil. Credit: Bloomberg

DeSmog’s Rebecca John is the latest to unearth evidence exposing the vast organized-crime syndicate popularly known as Big Oil. Specifically, the natural-gas industry has known for decades that gas stoves are toxic threats to their users:

Now, newly discovered documents reveal that the American Gas Association was studying the health and indoor pollution risks from gas stoves as far back as the early 1970s — that they knew much more, at a far earlier date, than has been previously documented.

Armed with that knowledge, the American Gas Association produced a series of advertisements warning the American public of the risks of their product. Ha ha ha, no, they did this:

1972 American Gas Association ad

For decades they poisoned children for profit. Thank goodness we have politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) holding them to account with legislation like S.240, the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, and Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), with H.R. 263, the Stop Trying to Obsessively Vilify Energy (STOVE) Act.

Another true American champion, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is back again to tanking the nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis to be the Department of Interior’s top energy official. He’s mad that Daniel-Davis, currently Interior’s principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management, recognized in an internal memo that oil drilling off the coast of Alaska would worsen climate change. We can thank Fox News for exposing this stunning admission.

In completely unrelated news, the Iditarod sled dog race is collapsing as Alaska’s permafrost and snows disappear.

From Lauren Leffer: California’s punishing winter storms killed off about half of the monarch butterflies in the state. In the 1990s, millions of monarchs wintered in California; now there are only a few hundred thousand.

The Inflation Reduction Act offers massive tax subsidies for any company that can produce hydrogen-based fuel from renewable energy, known by the marketing term “green hydrogen.” Evan Halper reports that a furious industry lobbying effort is underway to ensure the Treasury Department rules implementing the subsidy allow for fossil-fuel-based hydrogen to receive it, which would be somewhat bad, in the sense of catastrophically terrible.

From Jon Hurdle: Seven members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation have urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to permanently ban shipments of liquefied natural gas by rail, arguing that a plan to ship the highly explosive fuel through their districts to a proposed export terminal in New Jersey poses the risk of “catastrophic impacts.’’

From Rebecca Ratcliffe: Authorities in the Philippines are scrambling to contain an oil leak from a sunken tanker that could threaten the rich biodiversity of more than 20 marine protected areas. The MT Princess Empress, which was carrying a cargo of about 200,000 gallons of industrial oil, sank last week off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro province.

From Leo Sands and Dino Grandoni: More than 190 countries have reached a landmark deal for protecting the biodiversity of the world’s oceans, agreeing for the first time on a common framework for establishing new protected areas in international waters. It might help if oil tankers stopped sinking in those areas! The United States is not likely to ratify the treaty, though.


SENATE: On Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) chairs an Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing on the environmental costs of crypto-mining, and his legislation to require crypto-miners to report their climate pollution.

On Wednesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) chairs a Budget hearing on the rising costs of wildfires fueled by climate pollution. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) chairs an oversight hearing with Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair Rostin Behnam.

And on Thursday, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) chairs an EPW hearing on the Norfolk Southern train disaster, with testimony from Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.). Also testifying are Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw and federal and local environmental protection officials.

HOUSE: This week, the Republican-run House will vote on H.J. Res. 27 to disapprove of the Biden administration’s Waters of the United States rule to protect wetlands. House Rules meets on Tuesday in preparation for the vote, and sea-level-rise denier David Rouzer (R-N.C.) chairs a Transportation subcommittee hearing attacking the WOTUS rule on Wednesday; environmental law professor Dave Owen is arguing against the four industry lobbyists invited by Republicans. Small Business chair Roger Williams is also chairing an anti-WOTUS hearing, though he hasn’t managed to get his committee’s website working.

On Wednesday, climate denier Pat Fallon (R-Texas) chairs an Oversight subcommittee hearing on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The Republican witnesses are climate denier Alex Epstein and long-time Koch Industries quant Ilia Bouchouev, now an independent hedge fund manager and NYU visiting professor. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) is the ranking member of the subcommittee, so the hearing should get interesting.

Election denier Troy Nehls (R-Texas) chairs a Transportation subcommittee hearing on fossil-fuel pipeline safety and the reauthorization of the PIPES Act of 2020. In an all white-male panel, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration official Tristan Brown and pipeline watchdog Bill Caram are testifying alongside pipeline lobbyist Andrew Black and pipeline executive Kenneth Grubb.

Also on Wednesday, climate denier Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) chairs an Agriculture subcommittee hearing with timber industry lobbyists on the forestry provisions in the Farm Bill; Tom Tiffany (R-Wisc.) chairs a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing attacking “preservationist policies” on federal lands; Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) chairs a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on fisheries and hydropower; and in what appears to be a perfectly reasonable hearing, Science chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) takes testimony on encouraging scientific collaboration between the Department of Energy and NASA, NOAA, and the NSF.

On Friday, climate denier Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) chairs a Financial Services subcommittee hearing on increasing flood insurance coverage.

Also this week, Appropriations is taking two days of testimony from American Indian and Alaska Native witnesses; hearing from members on State Department and foreign operations appropriations; and holding an oversight hearing with the Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General.

Climate Action Today:

This morning, the Brookings Institution hosted Tobias Adrian of the International Monetary Fund, Carolyn Fischer of the World Bank, former Federal Reserve economist Glenn Rudebusch, and climate finance professor Irene Monasterolo, discussing papers on the case for phasing out coal globally and the challenge of limiting warming to 2°C.

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1 Speaking of, Elon Musk’s bodyguards follow him everywhere at Twitter HQ, even into the bathroom.

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