Order must prevail!

The Big Oil hearing, the Democratic vice, the ultimate lesson of capitalism


Yesterday’s hearing on Big Oil’s continued campaign of climate deception began with a video presentation by House Oversight’s Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Senate Budget chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), on the result of their multi-year joint investigation:

I found it instructive to compare the reporting on the report and hearing from fossil-fuel-financed outlets and from those outlets which, like Hill Heat, refuse such funding.2

The journalists at fossil-fuel-financed outlets:

  • The paywalled New York Times ignored the report and the hearing.

  • The Axios Generate newsletter ignored the report and the hearing.

  • The paywalled Washington Post’s Maxine Joselow wrote about the report, but there was no coverage of the hearing.

  • The paywalled Wall Street Journal opinion editor James Freeman decried the hearing as a “bizarre spectacle” of a “a sort of virtual encampment for climate zealotry.”

  • The paywalled Financial Times’s Aime Williams reported that the American Petroleum Institute called the investigation “unfounded election-year rhetoric” and Exxon “tired allegations.”

  • The Hill’s Zach Budryk reported that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) called Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) a “climate fatalist” for acting like nothing can be done about global warming, below a Sponsored Content link from the petrochemical front group American Chemistry Council that claims “Rising Regulations Threaten to Sink U.S. Leadership.”

  • In Politico Power Switch, Arianna Skibell linked to Emma Dumain and Corbin Hiar’s report on Big Oil’s influence on academia next to an attack on a “barrage of new EPA rules” by the newsletter’s current fossil-fuel sponsor, the industry front group National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The journalists at fossil-free outlets:

  • The Guardian’s Dharna Noor noted that Sen. John Kennedy (R-Oil), who “has accepted more than $1.5m from the oil industry,” challenged Dr. Geoffrey Supran to call him a “sick fuck,” which is how a Climate Defiance protester confronted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Coal).

  • At DeSmog, Adam Lowenstein wrote a comprehensive analysis of Exxon’s algae biofuel greenwashing campaign and of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) mocking Exxon’s claim that the First Amendment allowed it to defy a Congressional subpoena.

  • Bill McKibben, writing that “natural gas has always been the Democratic vice,” was elated to see Raskin’s harsh criticism of the “serious deception around natural gas that’s at the heart of Big Oil’s current efforts to prolong the energy transition.” “Go back and look at Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses,” McKibben notes, “nearly every one contains a paean to the rise of fracked gas.”1

  • Common DreamsJessica Corbett reported on the “scathing indictment” of Big Oil lies.

  • Arielle Samuelson at Heated highlighted the exchange between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former tobacco prosecutor Sharon Eubanks (whose steel-trap mind is dressed in velvet), in which she called for Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the oil industry for racketeering. [Ed.: Read on to find out what the Department of Justice is doing instead!]

Our Important Thinkers Have Questions About the Campus Protests.

Tilda Swinton cosplayer Joanna Coles wonders “Is Protesting the New Sex for Gen Z?

President Joe Biden answered these questions with: “Dissent is essential to democracy, but dissent must never lead to disorder.” He continued, “Order must prevail!” Slowly, slowly, he closed his folder and shuffled out of the room.

Which does kinda raise more questions.

Getting back to the Democratic vice: Tasked with ending methane plumes, oil and gas companies across the globe are installing “enclosed flare” equipment. But an investigation found that what enclosed flares do is prevent scientists from accurately detecting the pollution. Tim Doty, a former regulator at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, told the Guardian’s Tom Brown and Christina Last:

“Enclosed combustors are basically a flare with an internal flare tip that you don’t see. Enclosed flaring is still flaring. It’s just different infrastructure that they’re allowing. Enclosed flaring is, in truth, probably less efficient than a typical flare.”

In 2020, Colorado banned routine methane flaring, but provided a carve-out clause for enclosed flaring devices. “Oops!” said the fracking lobbyist who got that included.

Meanwhile, the EPA also underestimates methane pollution from landfills and urban areas, Harvard scientists have found.

A few years ago I was (for some reason) asked to guest-judge a children's science fair. Fear not for the future: our greatest scientific advancements are ahead of us

Speaking of children inventing solar death rays… Following an emergency request from the Biden administration, three Donald Trump-appointed judges on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said Juliana v. United States—the lawsuit filed by 21 young people claiming the US has violated their civil rights by allowing climate change to go unchecked—must be dismissed.

So that’s what the Department of Justice is busy doing.

President Biden can still make this right by coming to the settlement table,” Our Children’s Trust attorney Julia Olson told Dharna Noor. “And the full ninth circuit can correct this mistake.”

A male eastern towhee singing at the top of his lungs. Leesburg, Virginia, USA. 2MAY2024.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Democrats like Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) struck back against the Republican fossil-fuel agenda at yesterday’s Energy budget hearing, so that was good.

Hearings on the Hill:

Finally: CleanTechnica’s Steve Hanley went the hardest on his coverage of the Big Oil hearing. Under the headline US Universities At The Center Of Fossil Fuel “Money For Research” Scheme, Hanley discussed the real-world implications of fossil-fuel corruption of academia. He concludes:

“As this is being written, armed security forces and police are storming many of the universities that have been sucking off the fossil fuel industry for decades. Some of these so-called institutions of higher learning charge $100,000 a year or more for the privilege of attending them. In exchange they are supposed to teach their students how to be part of civilized society. And what a lesson they are getting. Those of you old enough to remember what happened at Kent State must be having grave concerns about how this will all end.

Today’s students are learning that any peep of protest will be met with the harshest of reactions — which is just what fossil fuel companies want people to understand. Mess with us and we will mess with you ten times as hard. We will have our minions in the police and National Guard arrest you as violently as possible, cart you off to jail, and threaten to keep you there for years or even decades to punish you for your impudence. Echoes of the civil rights era are everywhere in America today, while fossil fuel companies pursue their never ending campaign of lies, innuendo, smears, and half truths as they struggle to keep making boat loads of money at the expense of the environment and the health of millions.

Autocracy tolerates no dissent — that is the lesson today’s college students are learning at all these exalted colleges and universities across America. The ultimate lesson of capitalism is that it will crush all who oppose it with truncheon-wielding thugs committed to teaching the real meaning of democracy — it is for the rich and powerful, not ordinary people, who will only allowed to survive at the pleasure of their corporate masters.”

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. If you’ve got job listings, event listings, or other hot news, I want to hear it. Connect with me—@[email protected], @climatebrad on Threads, and @climatebrad.hillheat.com on BlueSky.

Again, Hill Heat isn’t financed by the American Chemistry Council or the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association or by Exxon ads touting algae biofuels. We’re sponsored only by climate hawks like you. Become a paid subscriber:

1  The Climate Silence archive has a comprehensive dataset of Obama’s pronouncements on climate change and his first-term pivot to praising fracked gas, tar sands, and offshore oil drilling.

2  I’m not even going to bother with the coverage from the fossil-backed hard-right climate-denial media, but yes, they were happy to churn out stories on the hearing.

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