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The king shall have wreck of the sea

Big Oil lies, Manchin cries, and the value of a whale

PRESENTED BY A GREENLAND WHALE IN AUNTY MABEL’S NIGHTIE

This morning, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) chaired an examination of Big Oil’s history of lies, its record-breaking profits and fossil-fueled climate disasters, as Chevron offers the Calvin and Hobbes defense of its climate denial. The hearing is built on a new trove of internal oil-company documents demonstrating their continued campaign to distort climate science and obstruct climate action. One of my favorite lines is from an internal 2020 Shell document outlining their latest climate-pollution talking points:

Please do not give the impression that Shall is willing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to levels that do not make business sense.

Make sure to read Emily Sanders’s roundup at ExxonKnews for all the details.

Cracks are showing in the very-difficult-to-justify1 campaign by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to force Democrats to pass Cotton Eye Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) fossil-fuel-fast-tracking plan by attaching it to the government-funding continuing resolution.

Although Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the only senator who has publicly spoken out against the plan to force the construction of the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline and expedite future oil and gas projects such as the Line 3 tar-sands pipeline in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Eversource fracked-gas pipeline in Massachusetts, LNG export terminals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Oregon, as well as Pebble Mine in Alaska and mines on sacred tribal lands in Nevada and Arizona, Schumer is having to engage in questionable behavior to stop fellow senators from speaking out.

According to multiple Senate staffers, Schumer angrily and loudly chewed out Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at a caucus meeting when she spoke up against the Manchin deal. Schumer behaved so disrespectfully towards Warren that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) rebuked him for his incivility.

Warren is one of 18 members of the Senate Environmental Justice Caucus, founded by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.) who rebuked then-President Donald Trump for his administration’s attack on the National Environmental Protection Act in 2020. Environmental justice leaders are now challenging those senators to stick to their commitment to protect the “communities that have faced the greatest burdens of legacy environmental injustice and structural racism” from “industrial projects [that] threaten their health and well-being.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have spoken out against the Schumer-Manchin plan for the first time, telling E&E News that House Democrats have agreed to “nothing” regarding the Manchin deal.

The Inflation Reduction Act is already have an effect on the climate! “The Biden administration on Wednesday said it had reinstated bids from a November 2021 Gulf of Mexico sale of offshore oil and gas drilling rights” as mandated by the IRA, breaking Biden’s campaign promise to end fossil-fuel drilling on federal lands and waters.

But, you see, if we export the oil and gas, then it’s not counted in the IRA climate models, so don’t worry.

As billionaire tax dodges go, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s transfer of nearly all of his wealth to the climate-activism group Holdfast Collective is pretty cool.

Railroad companies, flush with record profits, are trying to shut down their workers’ pleas for better working conditions. Railroad workers are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, without sick leave or vacations, and have seen their wages stagnate even as the workload increases. The House has a hearing today on the impact rail disruptions could have on agriculture. But who will think of the petrochemical plants and refineries?

As part of a comprehensive energy plan, the European Union plans to raise $120 billion with a windfall profits tax on fossil-fuel companies to support its rapid transition to a renewable economy independent of Russian supplies. At today’s Big Oil hearing, Rep. Khanna wondered when the United States is going to do the same.

The Prince of Wales is now the King of Whales. Since a 1324 edict by King Edward II, the kings of England have owned the whales of Britain:

“The king shall have wreck of the sea throughout the realm, whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm, except in certain places privileged by the king."

This of course, raises the question: How can you own a whale? And: How much is a whale worth? Fortunately, Adrienne Buller has written the book to answer those questions, and more: The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism. She breaks down the illusions of mainstream climate economics and the deadly contradictions inherent in the market ideology dominant in global climate policy today.

More Thursday hearings: nuclear fusion, a look at five years of recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and rail service and agriculture. Securities and Exchange Commissioner Gary Gensler will be grilled by the Senate Banking Committee—expect questions on the SEC’s plans for greenhouse pollution reporting rules.

Hearings on the Hill:

At today’s Big Oil hearing, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) cited the research by the incomparable Emily Atkin and Molly Taft on the total corruption of the daily climate tipsheets by Big Oil sponsorship.

Unlike my competitors at Politico, Axios, and Punchbowl News, I don’t accept sponsorship by fossil-fuel companies: Hill Heat is a fully reader-supported publication. To support this work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.

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1 Expect to see a flurry of economic models by fossil-fuel-funded academics purporting to show that fast-tracking fossil-fuel projects will be good for the climate any day now.

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