ClimateNews & Opinion
by Peter Hart
It’s fair to say that President Biden has been a disappointment in confronting the climate crisis — especially given his record of approving new fossil fuel projects. But the policies championed by the Republican Party are a stark reminder of how much worse things could get if they prevail in the 2024 elections.
This was underscored by a debate between GOP presidential hopefuls, which included an upsetting display of climate denialism. Nearly all of the contenders refused to even acknowledge the science of human-caused climate change, and they were united in their calls to increase drilling and fracking.
Despite the rising pitch of the crisis, climate deniers and Big Oil’s cronies dominate the Republican Party. They’re threatening to plunge us deeper toward climate chaos and tear down vital health and environmental protections.
And their plans are not exactly a secret — making the stakes of the next election crystal clear.
Republicans’ Abysmal Stance on Climate, Brought to You By Big Oil
Republican leaders would rather see polluters profit than listen to science and many of their constituents. August’s presidential debate emphasized as much.
The moderator asked candidates to raise their hands if they believed in human-caused climate change, and (perhaps) one candidate did (albeit briefly). Candidates took the opportunity to deflect, downplay, and even declare the “climate change agenda” a hoax. And they were united in their support for more fracking and drilling as part of an “energy dominance” agenda.
That’s no surprise when Republicans are receiving huge contributions from fossil fuel corporations. So far this year, fossil fuel donors sent $4 million to two Congressional Republican super PACs. This follows tens of millions of dollars donated ahead of the 2022 midterms — on top of the many millions they send to individual candidates each year.
All this is paying off handsomely for Big Oil and other dirty industries. Just two months after gaining control of the House in 2023, Congressional Republicans introduced dozens of bills endangering our environment and our climate. These bills aimed to gut environmental protections, slow climate action and infrastructure, and encourage more oil and gas production.
In March, House Republicans passed a huge energy bill that would clear the way for even more drilling, refineries, and pipelines. While the bill was dead-on-arrival in the Senate, it’s a major indicator of Republican priorities: doubling down on dirty energy.
The Republican Climate Plan Is a 900-Page Nightmare
Right now, House Republicans are quietly adding anti-climate provisions to spending bills — a dozen so far, according to The Lever. Fossil fuel-backed lawmakers are trying to stop the administration from spending money on climate action.
Their measures would block research on how climate change impacts the fishing industry, eliminate a National Science Foundation climate program, and end funding for a variety of international climate programs.
Supporters of these legislative maneuvers intend to create short-term headaches. They have little chance of actually passing, as spending bill negotiations move ahead with the Senate.
But the more substantial version of the Republican climate plan — which is nothing short of a nightmare — comes in the form of something called Project 2025.
Project 2025 is a 900-page blueprint for a Republican president’s presumptive first 180 days in office. The plan was crafted by former Trump officials and a right-wing think tank linked to notorious oil baron Charles Koch.
If carried out, Project 2025 would:
- Halt efforts to expand the country’s power grid to accommodate new clean energy;
- Cut funding for government agencies working on environmental justice and renewable energy;
- Call for granting more regulatory powers to state officials, allowing Republican states to weaken or toss protections;
- Block states from adopting standards to reduce car pollution; and
- Fully repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, while giving an additional boost to fossil fuel drilling and exploration.
Project 2025 aims to shift the federal government away from protecting our public health or environment and toward smoothing the path for polluting industries to grow. It may even challenge the very notion that federal agencies can do anything at all to reduce climate pollution.
Their “Battle Plan” Must Be a Call to Action
Though Project 2025 is bad enough on its own, Republican frontrunners may have even more in mind. For instance, Donald Trump recently mused about the need to rein in an array of independent government agencies — a list that would include the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission FERC).
While that agency has been historically very friendly to fossil fuel interests, Trump’s obvious intent is to make it even more so. Even observers who doubt Trump’s ploy would be successful are worried about the chilling effect it may have on FERC.
Broadly speaking, Republican climate plans are about sending a clear message. The director of Project 2025 is not exactly subtle about their goals — as he told Politico, “We are writing a battle plan, and we are marshaling our forces.”
That much is clear. The task for the rest of us — who want a livable future for ourselves, our communities, and the planet — is to make sure they lose.
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