Hip hip hooray, it’s another Earth Day! And just like you would expect, deniers have been busy with their own counter-programing to distract from the very real stuff happening in the White House.
Since Republicans are increasingly not in denial about the popularity of climate action, particularly among those who have to survive potentially apocalyptic conditions, there are more calls than ever this year for the GOP to, in the words of former Trump-EPA appointee Samantha Dravis, “offer more than criticism on climate and infrastructure.” That’s her advice, in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner that, to be honest, she should probably read. Because four of the five paragraphs are, in fact, complaints. The first three are standard Republican complaints about President Biden’s Infrastructure plan and its spending on climate-friendly infrastructure.
The fourth paragraph is, for a change, complaints about Republicans, who should “offer viable alternatives” instead of just continuing to complain and oppose. “It is not enough to argue against government spending anymore," she says.” So now, “Republicans must negotiate in good faith to try to curb some of the more extreme aspects of the bill.”
Then finally, in the last paragraph, Dravis stops complaining and actually mentions the GOP’s “BUILDER Act,” which “offers a means to modernize permitting processes and streamline projects.” Sponsored by oily Louisiana Republican Rep. Garret Graves, and cosponsored by oily Sam Graves (R-MO), the act shows even Dravis’s plea for good faith negotiations is being offered in bad faith. Because the BUILDER Act isn’t a proposal to fund new infrastructure projects, but instead is an attempt to gut the National Environmental Policy Act to make it easier for polluters to ignore local objections from the people they’re harming.
It’s just more of the exact sort of deregulatory agenda that makes the problem worse. Granted, it’s better than the accidental socialism or ponderings of how to make tea that we’ve seen young conservative climate activists recently, but only because adult Republicans are capable of a well-thought-out distraction instead of an off-the-cuff one.
Not that they can execute it particularly well. As you probably didn’t notice because the adults were doing real things this week, House Republicans introduced their own “energy innovation agenda”, which is basically just a rehash of all their existing distractions, so not all that innovative.
There is one notable new thing though, the use of “American Energy” as a distinct new euphemism for oil and gas. It’s an interesting new phrase we’ve started seeing from the sedition caucus, making an obvious play to connect (white) nationalist jingoism with energy policy, to sell the public on exporting gas.
With proposals ranging from giving money to the timber industry to cut down trees in the name of climate to giving money to the oil industry to pollute more, to giving money to the nuclear industry to fail to build power plants with, the three-day virtual summit could more accurately be described as “a list of videos uploaded to Kevin McCarthy’s website.”
So it’s hard to believe Republicans are open to good faith negotiations, when their idea of climate policy is giving comfort to polluters and overturning NEPA, a bedrock environmental law communities have used to protect themselves for decades.
Trust these fossil-fuel-funded deniers to negotiate in good faith on climate policy, and you’ll be digging our Graves.