Republicans and fossil fuel interests have one, shall we say, comfortable love relationship. But that relationship went from snug to downright NSFW on Thursday in a hearing ostensibly on disinformation about fossil fuels.
The House Oversight Committee hosted executives from four fossil companies and two trade groups as well as a pipeline welder to probe decades of campaigns aimed at confusing the public. There is a lot of forage. The last years have seen journalist and academic surveys, lawsuits, Complaints from the FTC, and puncture operations who revealed the ways the fossil fuel industry is misleading the public – and keep doing it nowadays. This has put the entire planet in a dangerous place now, with a sharp reduction in carbon pollution needed to avoid extreme weather damage.
But what Republican members of Congress wanted to do on Thursday was a humble apology to the CEOs of some of the most powerful companies on the planet for being held to account. More than that, they wanted to thank them for their service to society and scold anyone who dared to question these industry titans.
Here is a handful of defense, praise, and obsequiousness:
- “God bless Chevron”, Representative Jim Jordan (recipient of $ 59,956 in oil and gas cash in the 2020 election cycle) said, thanking the company for the increase in production. “I want to thank the companies that are actually increasing their production,” Jordan added later.
- “These companies are nasty,” said Rep. Jody Hice ($ 5,000 beneficiary oil and gas industry in 2020, who talk about getting your money’s worth). Hice didn’t ask a question.
- “These are just people who have nothing better to do than type on their keyboard,” Rep. Byron Donalds ($ 18,110 from oil and gas interest so far this cycle) climate activists have said before turning to oil CEOs. “Let’s be very clear, you need an apology. What I have witnessed today is blatant intimidation on the part of the chair of this committee. … It’s disgusting, it’s absolutely disgusting. Someone better call Merrick Garland, tell him to come in here, and watch the intimidation that came from this same panel today. This is not about defending Big Oil. … I’m sorry for you. And I am sorry for the people of our country who have to witness shenanigans like this.
- “While this committee may not like you because you are executives, because your businesses have been successful, I just want to apologize for the decorum. Because thank you for what you have done, ”said Rep. Yvette Herrell ($ 115,126 from industry she oversaw, making her the second-largest oil and gas recipient in the House so far this cycle). “There are people here who believe in you. Thank you. … In fact, I would just submit to saving anyone who has been vaccinated or is going to be toned, thank you to the oil and gas industry as I would bet almost every syringe has been hit by some petroleum product. … I just want to thank you all for being here today.
- “You all have a good story to tell. Don’t be afraid to tell people how cleaner things are than in the past. You don’t need to wake up all over us, ”Rep. Glenn Grothman ($ 30,576 from oil and gas in 2020 and $ 3,570 so far this year.)
- “It’s very shameful how the other side wants to demonize our oil and gas industry. I am very proud of our oil and gas industry, innovators who embrace new technologies, provide a higher standard of living and jobs across our country, ”said Representative Bob Gibbs, $ 28,558 oil and gas man in 2020. He later added: “I’m disappointed the president didn’t recognize this and demonized them about it.”
- “I apologize to our witnesses who have been called and invited to participate in this today,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, who has so far received $ 11,400 in oil and gas interest and raised $ 237,375 in 2018. (2020 data was not available.)
- “There is a moral argument to be made for the fossil fuel industry and the fossil fuel industry as a whole,” said Rep. Pat Fallon, who took into consideration $ 5,600 in oil and gas money. “If we want more abundant, cheaper and cleaner energy – which we should all be doing – these witnesses here should be the ones we support, applaud and do not demonize. “
- “These very important energy companies and the [American] Petroleum Institute understand that you are here, you have seen the attitude of the people on the left of this committee. When you are asked this morning, aren’t you embarrassed, it really is an irrational question to ask CEOs about their business, ”said Rep. Andy Biggs, receiver of $ 27,253 in oil and gas cash in 2020.
- “My my mes. God help us to be protected from this threat from within. American patriots are so done with career politicians and Democratic Socialist madness … We are sickened by the continued attacks on them. American workers and American industry. This whole debacle of a hearing today on why my colleagues opposite will lose their majority status very soon, “predicted Rep. Clay Higgins. (Higgins received 10 $ 426 in fossil fuel cash so far this cycle and $ 40,773 in 2020.)
- “Did President Biden or anyone in the White House apologize to you?” Representative James Comer, who received $ 18,500 in fossil fuel cash in 2020, asked welder The Republicans Invited. (For the record, he didn’t.)
A United Nations Report released this week warns the world as a whole faces a “production gap,” with more fossil fuels to be produced than is compatible with a secure climate. Other reports have warned that new exploration for fossil fuels must stop next year, emissions should drop to unprecedented rate over the next decade, and that reduce the production and use of fossil fuels is the safest way to do it. The reason we’re at this precipice is because the fossil fuel industry has waged a campaign of disinformation while further anchoring its product in the global economy, fully aware that it would cause major climate damage.
It is also because the Republicans (and a handful of democrats) blocked climate action and maintained their grip on power largely thanks to the millions of dollars in the fossil fuel industry. The industry has managed around 85% of its donations in 2020 to Republicans, and is on track to do the same this year (and has done the same in recent years). The same Republicans who apologized to the industry and thanked it on Thursday.
Anyway, this is all very cool and very legal.