How did the GOP get from ignoring climate change to actively opposing efforts to combat it?

The always excellent Elizabeth Kolbert at The New Yorker has an article in today’s issue that examines how the Republican Party — along with the worst Democrats on Capitol Hill — went from benign neglect on the environment to actively opposing any efforts to ameliorate what will end up being the defining issue for humanity:

How did caring about a drowned or desiccated future come to be a partisan issue? Perhaps the simplest answer is money. A report put out two years ago by the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis noted, “In the 2000s, several bipartisan climate bills were circulating in the Senate.” Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court, in the Citizens United decision, ruled that corporations and wealthy donors could, effectively, pour unlimited amounts of cash into electioneering. Fossil-fuel companies quickly figured out how to funnel money through front groups, which used it to reward the industry’s friends and to punish its enemies. After Citizens United, according to the report, “bipartisan activity on comprehensive climate legislation collapsed.”

When it comes to direct contributions, the top recipient of fossil-fuel money in Congress this election cycle has been Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia. Manchin killed off earlier iterations of the climate bill, and inserted into this version most of its worst provisions, including a mandate that the federal government auction millions of acres for oil and gas drilling. Among the top twenty recipients of oil and gas money are three other Democrats: Senator Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, and Representatives Henry Cuellar and Lizzie Fletcher, of Texas. The rest are Republicans.

Even money, though, seems an insufficient explanation. The G.O.P.’s opposition to action on climate change has transcended crass calculation to become an article of faith. Several red states, including Texas and Louisiana, have taken steps to penalize financial firms that say they are reducing their investments in fossil fuels, even though these steps are likely to cost the states’ taxpayers money. As the I.R.A. was headed toward a vote, the Wall Street Journal reported that congressional Republicans were pressuring fossil-fuel companies to take a stronger stand against the bill. G.O.P. lawmakers, according to the Journal, had “become frustrated” by the oil companies’ support for some measures to combat climate change, and so they took to lobbying the lobbyists.

If you’ve been paying attention at all, some of this will be old news. But I like seeing subjects I already know much about presented in well-researched articles. In environmental journalism, Kolbert is a superstar.

You can read the entire article at this link.

Below is a listing from of the top 2022 recipients in Congress of oil/gay corporate contributions.

Leave a Reply