• Ed Flattau

Oil Blind Spot

The modern-day Republican Party is inching towards an ignominious niche in history. From President Donald Trump virtually on down, it is failing to come to terms with what is happening in plain sight to the climate of our planet. The GOP seems oblivious to the existential threat posed by the onslaught of record-breaking high temperatures, forest fires, storms, droughts, and floods, as well as unprecedented glacial melting, overheated oceans, and rising sea levels.

Scientists have prescribed the phasing out of fossil fuels as the path to climate salvation. Yet the GOP has created a dangerously delusional alternate reality by staking the nation’s economic future primarily on the exploitation of oil.

The transition to a renewable energy, carbon-neutral-based society is conspicuously absent from the conversation.

Republicans pay lip service to renewables to mollify their critics, but the lack of commitment is often blatant. Federal government subsidies are miserly. Trump makes little pretense of his disdain for renewables’ viability. Wind in particular ignites his contempt. Not only does he disparage the energy source’s reliability, but he denounces it for lowering property values, killing birds, and causing cancer. Could his ire have anything to do with windmills impeding the views from one of his golf courses?

The GOP’s climate denial was on graphic display in the House of Representatives’ recent consideration of legislation to ban oil drilling off our coasts and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In hours of debate on the floor, Republican lawmakers made no mention of climate change as a concern or scaling back on fossil fuel as a national environmental solution.

Instead, they accused the Democrats of “not believing in oil” because of anti-drilling intransigence. Demonstrating their long-term fidelity to the fossil fuel industry, several Republican legislators stressed simplistic notions that American security and independence depended on oil. Another GOP refrain in the debate was that fossil fuel was the key to the nation’s global energy “dominance” (and leader in pollution).

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, House Republican Conference Chair, committed sacrilege during the debate. Condemning Democrats for waging a “war on oil”, she invoked the Lord’s name in vain exclaiming: “Thank God for fossil fuels”.

Despite Republican protestations, the drilling bans were approved by the Democratic controlled House, but petroleum aficionados need not mourn. The legislation won’t get by the Republican Senate or President Trump’s veto. Any significant progress in disengaging from fossil fuels will hinge on the 2020 national election.


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