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Predictable But Still Dumb: Pro-Dirty Energy Politicians Assault Voter-Approved Renewable Energy Standards

3 min. read

Across the nation, the assault by the dirty energy industry - and the politicians who love them - on clean energy and the environment is chugging along, full-steam ahead. This past week, for instance, SolveClimateNews reported, “Republican legislators in Montana, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri are separately trying to weaken or dismantle the renewable portfolio standards in their states, which are seen as crucial to U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a globally competitive clean economy.” Another example of this assault is in Virginia, where HB 1397 would – according to the Virginia Sierra Club – “actually prohibit the implementation of federal regulations in Virginia that promote more efficient housing.” And, of course, Californians last year beat back a dirty-energy-industry-funded effort to roll back that state’s landmark clean energy and clean air standards.

As if the state-level assaults on clean energy aren’t bad enough, the U.S. House of Representatives appears hell-bent on gutting the Clean Air Act, as well as federal support for transitioning America to a clean energy future. As the Natural Resouces Defense Council reports, “Republicans in the House Appropriations Committee today released a list of 70 proposed cuts to the federal budget this year that would have a drastic and harmful impact on future clean energy innovation and investment.” These cuts include $2.1 billion “from energy and science programs at the Department of Energy, representing a 20% cut;” a “massive 35% hit” to energy efficiency and renewable energy technology programs; a billion-dollar cut to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The list goes on and on.

Meanwhile, despite all the evidence that cutting wasteful corporate welfare to dirty energy companies would benefit our health, economy, national security and environment, not to mention provide significant budgetary savings at a time of deep concern over the deficit, fossil fuel supporters on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across America are having none of it. Instead, these folks are digging in their heels and arguing that eliminating subsidies for super-profitable oil companies “would kill jobs and slow economic growth.” This Palin-esque line by pro-dirty-energy politicians echoes the message they’re getting from a major donor to their campaigns – the American Petroleum Institute.

Like many of his industry colleagues, [API President Jack] Gerard said API has been making its pitch to the freshmen by sticking to fundamentals. Oil and gas lobbyists on the Hill are handing out copies of their recent report “State of American Energy,” which details the reach of the 9.2 million people directly and indirectly employed through their part of the fossil fuel extraction industry.

“I tell you what, the message resonates,” Gerard said. “When people understand the breadth and scope of the oil and gas industry, it’s generally an ‘Oh, hmm’ moment.”

According to Open Secrets, the oil and gas industry has already donated big bucks to freshmen on energy-heavy committees. On Energy and Commerce, GOP Reps. Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Cory Gardner of Colorado have raised $187,700 and $154,174, respectively. On Natural Resources, Republican Reps. Bill Flores of Texas has raised $175,728 and Jeff Landry of Louisiana, $71,200.

That’s how the fossil fuel industry plays the game: full contact all the way. For those of us who believe in clean energy, we’re going to have to start playing that way as well; that is, if we want to slow or stop the massive assault on clean energy we’re watching unfold across America right now.