We’ve started to hear recently that the GOP is considering a new approach to climate change: accept that it’s real, and offer their own policies that address it. For example, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently said that in order to credibly oppose the Green New Deal, it’s time for Republicans to “cross the rubicon” and accept that climate change is real.
It appears as though there are now essentially two camps. On the one side there are the old-school deniers, epitomized best perhaps by James Inhofe (R-OK), whose Senate snowball stunt was probably one of the dumbest and most widely-mocked displays of denial to date, and who is hosting a climate denial event for the CO2 Coalition today. And we can’t forget, of course, former Inhofe staffer Marc Morano, who goes on Fox News to say laughably dumb things, and then brag about it when real media corrects him.
On the other side of this supposed rift are moderate GOP Congresspeople. This rank includes Florida’s Matt Gaetz, who apparently thinks Holocaust denial is fine but climate denial isn’t, and Louisiana’s Garret Graves, who the GOP tapped as minority chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and who acknowledges that climate change is real.
Polling has increasingly shown that the public doesn’t buy the right’s denial, and even a majority of Republicans want clean energy solutions. This puts the GOP in a delicate position: to serve the base, or serve fossil fuel campaign donors? Which will they choose?
Spoiler alert: there’s no indication the GOP is giving up on fossil fuels, and there’s still no sign this shift on climate is anything but empty rhetoric.
Graves said as much, telling the New York Times that “if we can find strategies that allow us to reduce emissions while continue to use fossil fuels, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.” What about those strategies? Well, the only way to burn fossil fuels without destroying the climate is to capture the carbon emissions. How’s that technology doing? Not good, to put it mildly.
Don’t take our word for it: in response to Graham’s rubicon comment, Marlo Lewis Jr at CEI pointed out that carbon capture and storage is so expensive that it isn’t commercially viable. In rolling back Obama-era regulations, even Trump’s EPA is arguing that CCS isn’t the “best system of emission reduction,” and CEI agrees its cost are simply too high. Especially compared with renewables, which are already out-competing coal plants without the costly CCS upgrades.
Hmm, so maybe Graves just doesn’t know the latest bad news about the continued failure of the technology capable of reconciling fossil fuel use with a livable climate. Maybe he’s more of a moderate on other climate issues, like the Paris agreement! A coalition of Koch-ed up groups just sent a letter to Reps to oppose HR. 9, the House Resolution to force us to stay in the Paris agreement.
Perhaps Graves can prove his moderate meddle by opposing the fossil fuel industry’s attack dogs...but that doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon. Graves recently told PoliticoPro that “one of the flaws of Paris” is that it “doesn’t look globally.” That’s right: the supposedly sensible and moderate new position the GOP is taking on an international climate agreement signed by literally every nation in the world is that it isn’t international enough.
What about the folks that Graves is bringing in to work with him on the House Climate Crisis committee? Bloomberg describes one as being pro-Paris, so maybe there’s hope?
Nope! Turns out the GOP tapped (pro-Paris) George David Banks to be their senior strategist, and Marty Hall as minority staff director. Hall spent nearly a decade at FirstEnergy Corp, the energy company lobbying for a coal and nuclear power bailout that we wrote about yesterday. And Banks, you may recall, was the Trump advisor who put on the pro-coal event at the 2017 COP, and then left to work for a group that fights against climate action-oriented shareholder resolutions. According to E&E, Banks is excited to be “promoting policies that help preserve a role for all U.S. fossil fuels in any national climate policy.”
Oh, and both Hall and Banks are former Inhofe staffers.
So please forgive our skepticism that there’s all that much difference between the pro-fossil fuels denial of climate science from former Inhofe staffers like Morano, and the pro-fossil fuels acceptance of climate science from former Inhofe staffers like Banks and Hall.
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