1 July 2021   2 comments

Addendum to the post of 30 June on the responsibility of fossil fuel companies to the climate change crisis. National Public Radio ran a story that indicates that the companies continue to undermine effects to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. The title of the story is “Exxon Lobbyist Caught On Video Talks About Undermining Biden’s Climate Push”:

“Indiscrete comments made by an ExxonMobil lobbyist to undercover activists may figure prominently in upcoming congressional hearings about the role of oil companies in the battle against climate change.

“Video clips released by the Greenpeace investigation project Unearthed show Keith McCoy, the oil giant’s senior director for federal relations, talking frankly about ExxonMobil’s lobbying strategies. Channel 4 from the United Kingdom first reported the comments.

“McCoy was tricked by the activists who said they were job recruiters. He talked about working with ‘shadow groups,’ supporting a carbon tax that he believes will never happen and influencing senators to weaken climate elements of President Biden’s infrastructure plan.

“‘Joe Manchin, I talk to his office every week,’ bragged McCoy to the interviewer. He called the senator from West Virginia a ‘kingmaker’ and discussed how ‘on the Democrat side we look for the moderates on these issues’ in their efforts to stop policies that could hurt the company’s business.”

The Greenpeace story, entitled “Unearthed”, has additional information that demonstrates the incredible cynicism of ExxonMobil and how the Trump Administration was a Godsend to fossil fuel companies:

“A second Exxon lobbyist, Dan Easley – who left the company in January after working as its chief White House lobbyist throughout the Trump administration – laughed when asked by an undercover reporter if the company had achieved many policy wins under Trump, before outlining victories on fossil fuel permitting and the renegotiation of the NAFTA trade agreement.

“’The wins are such that it would be difficult to categorise them all,’ he said, adding that the biggest victory was Trump’s reduction in the corporate tax rate, which was ‘probably worth billions to Exxon’.

These companies enriched themselves by fighting policies based on science. And they are perfectly willing to let others, particularly the poor and vulnerable, to pay the price for their avarice. They need to understand the importance of including a more holistically defined public interest as part of their responsibility, not merely those parts of the public interest that serve their private interests.

McCoy also identified the people in Congress who ExxonMobil targets for help in preventing actions against climate change:

“Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top GOP member of the Energy Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the Republican ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“Other lobbying targets of Exxon include centrist Democrats Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana.

“McCoy also singles out Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, as an important contact because of his close relationship with President Joe Biden.

“Other Exxon contacts are up for reelection in 2022, McCoy notes: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mark Kelly of Arizona.

“McCoy also name-checks traditional Republican allies John Cornyn of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, and Marco Rubio of Florida.”

Addressing climate change is not simply a policy choice–it is the crisis of our age and Congress should understand its responsibility to protect humanity and the environment as urgently as possible.

Posted July 1, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “1 July 2021

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  1. Thank you for your attention to climate change ,sustainability and resiliency, all inextricably linked to wealth and income disparity, systemic racism, and party politics. Is there a point at which citizens are justified in resisting business as usual in order to accelerate progress on limiting the production of CO2, methane and other greenhouse gasses? Is there anyone who can be held responsible for the environmental degradation caused by exploitation of the planet for profit? Help! What do we do?

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    • There are currently many court cases against fossil fuel companies for causing climate change–the Guardian article cites some of them. But I doubt that these cases will succeed in any meaningful way, although a victory for the plaintiffs would be dramatically symbolic. The problem is that changing the energy base of the global economy will be resisted by all who have a vested interest in fossil fuels. The only way to accelerate the transition to renewable energies, a process that is already underway, is by concerted pressure on governments to eliminate the subsidies currently given to oil and gas. The people must be better organized and highly motivate to get governments to change. I also suspect that non-violent protests like Extinction Rebellion (https://rebellion.global/) will increase in the near future.

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