Last week, we patted ourselves on the back for being right about the GOP’s new two-faced climate policy of pretending to care while remaining in denial about the need to reduce fossil fuel use.
This week, the GOP’s bad-faith approach has come further into focus. Back in May, Texas senator John Cornyn told reporters that “the days of ignoring this issue are over.” But on Thursday, when Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted about July being the hottest month ever recorded, Cornyn proved he’s not done ignoring the issue by tweeting in response that “It’s summer, Chuck.” Predictably, Twitter proceeded to drag him.
Then, on Friday, Scott Waldman reported at E&E about an unusual occurrence. Polluter-lobbyist-turned-EPA-administrator Andrew Wheeler met with a group that actually cares about protecting the environment: the American Conservation Coalition (ACC). The catch? It’s a conservative group, specifically for young Republicans who care about the environment. Apparently the White House has, over the past few months, become increasingly receptive to the group’s entreaties, but not so much as to indicate that Team Trump is actually committed to acting on climate.
Odds are, though, that’s all it is. Because there’s all of one person pretending like Trump’s an environmental champion--his former EPA appointee Mandy Gunasekara. She left the administration in 2019 to found the Energy 45 Fund, a 501c4 organization with an explicitly political mission: “informing the public about the environmental and economic gains made under the Trump Administration.” (Gunasekara has refused to disclose the group’s funders.)
Ted MacDonald at Media Matters has a great write-up of Gunasekara’s mad dash through conservative media, which makes it pretty obvious that the Trump administration fully intends to continue pretending that burning fossil fuels is a climate solution while taking credit for emissions reductions that are a result of Obama-era policies (many of which Trump has rolled back).
But it’s not just the Trump administration taking this approach. Yesterday, Marco Rubio joined the propaganda parade with an op-ed in USA Today that argues for “adaptive solutions” instead of “regressive overreaction.” Rubio points to an Everglades restoration project and a bill aimed at protecting coral reefs as examples of ways in which Americans can adapt to climate change.
What he doesn’t address, however, is the need to eliminate fossil fuel emissions, in the absence of which no adaptation measure will ever be effective for long. Because there’s no point in rehabilitating coral reefs if we’re just going to let the seas warm and acidify to the point where even currently healthy reefs die off. Similarly, restoring the Everglades may stave off some saltwater intrusion into Florida’s drinking water, but without reducing carbon pollution, there’s no amount of money we can throw at the Everglades to keep the sea from rising up and claiming large swaths of Florida.
Under the guise of avoiding the “high cost” of climate action, Rubio is instead inviting Florida to constantly fight a losing battle. Adaptation without mitigation is an ask for infinite spending, to constantly clean up a mess you refuse to stop making.
Rubio’s op-ed makes it clear that the GOP’s climate plan is to embrace the broken window fallacy, the false premise that breaking a window then paying someone to replace is a net positive for the economy.
And as climate change breaks one window after another, the Trump Administration will likely do exactly what Backer fears, avoiding accountability by using his conservative, pro-climate group as window dressing.
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