Congress

Congressional Energy and Climate Committees Are Loaded with Ex-Fossil Fuel Lobbyists

U.S. Capitol building

Though the U.S. Congress has been in session for two months, much of the policy action which has taken place since Donald Trump assumed the presidency on January 20 has centered around his Executive Orders.

As some have pointed out, Trump's first speech in front of a joint session of Congress on February 28 can be seen as a reset moment, with the clock ticking on Republicans to deliver on promises made to voters in the 2016 election. In the energy and environment sphere, those efforts will likely center around gutting climate and environmental protections, and much of it will be carried out by congressional committee staffers. 

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that many Republican staff members on key committees are former fossil fuel industry lobbyists, which could help fast-track the industry's legislative agenda in the weeks and months ahead. In total, 15 staffers on the eight main energy and environment congressional committees previously worked as industry lobbyists on behalf of oil, gas, mining, coal, petrochemical, and electric utility interests. 

Surprise! The Four GOP Representatives Behind Bill to Abolish EPA Are Backed by Fossil Fuel Industry

EPA building in DC

On Feb. 3, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz turned heads when he introduced a bill to “completely abolish” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Today, the American people are drowning in rules and regulations promulgated by unelected bureaucrats,” Gaetz told fellow GOP lawmakers in an email reported by the Huffington Post, “and the Environmental Protection Agency has become an extraordinary offender.”

Rep. Gaetz’s bill came the day after a Senate committee voted in favor of confirming Scott Pruitt, the fossil fuel-friendly attorney general of Oklahoma who has sued the EPA 14 times, to head the agency.

And like Pruitt, Rep. Gaetz and his three fellow sponsors of H.R. 861 have all benefited from campaign donations from oil, gas, and coal companies and large electric utilities. 

Oil Companies, Corrupt Governments to Benefit as Congress Guts Transparency Rule

Rex Tillerson sitting with Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin

On February 3, the Republican-led Senate used an obscure procedural tool to end a bipartisan provision meant to fight corruption and overseas oil bribery, a rule opposed by Rex Tillerson as head of ExxonMobil.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) transparency rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, was created to reduce corruption by requiring drilling and mining companies to disclose royalties and other payments made to governments in exchange for oil, gas, and mining extractions. Critics say overturning the rule could threaten national security.

American Petroleum Institute Launches Pro-Oil Ad Campaign During Super Bowl

API ad says 'Oil pumps life'

The American Petroleum Institute, one of the largest oil and gas lobbying organizations in the United States, used the extreme hype surrounding Super Bowl commercials to launch a new advertising campaign aimed directly at the American public.

The campaign, called Power Past Impossible, touts the many uses of oil and natural gas and highlights how dependent modern life is on the byproducts of these fossil fuels.

Watch the ad released during Super Bowl 51:

Congress Plans Back Door Tactic to Scrap Methane Pollution Rule — and These Are the Oil Companies That Will Benefit

Natural gas flare

Republican leaders in Congress say they’ll use an obscure rule called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to roll back the Methane Waste and Prevention Rule as early as next week. The rule, finalized by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in November 2016, requires oil and gas companies to reduce methane leaks from operations on federal and tribal lands. 

An open records request from environmental group Friends of the Earth reveals the top three companies — ExxonMobil, Devon Energy, and Encana Energy — which will profit from the rule’s rollback.

Planet Earth Is The Real Loser Of The US Elections

During the U.S. presidential debates, there was not one single question devoted to the topic of climate change. And it appears that the results from the election have only amplified the silence that Americans seem to have on the subject of the environment.

In a stunning turn of events, US voters elected conservative businessman Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. Trump will now become the only world leader to actively deny that climate change is real, which means that the environment is about to suffer an enormous blow.

How Much Are Fossil Fuel Interests Spending to Sway Your Vote for Congress?

Circle of dollar bills.

Are your Congressional representatives up for reelection this year? How much money have they taken from fossil fuel interests this election cycle? And what about their opponents — are they any better, or are they taking dirty energy money too?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you might want to head on over to NoFossilFuelMoney.org, a new online tool created by ClimateTruth Action to track contributions from the fossil fuel sector — which includes oil and gas companies, electric utilities, coal mining companies, and related businesses — to both congressional incumbents and challengers.

As EU Prepares to Ratify Paris Climate Deal, U.S. Sees Bipartisan Push for Climate Action

Chris Gibson at left and John Delaney at right.

Just one month after the United States and China, two major greenhouse gas emitters, committed to the Paris climate agreement, the European Union has promised to follow suit and ratify the agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rise to “well below 2°C” and strive for 1.5°C.

Meanwhile, although the United States is notorious for partisanship over climate change, two Congressional representatives — one Republican and one Democrat — have just introduced a bill to create a bipartisan commission for climate solutions. 

Led by Representatives John Delaney (D-MD) and Chris Gibson (R-NY), the Delaney-Gibson Climate Solutions Commission Act (H.R. 6240) would bring together the two political parties to create a 10-member commission to find agreement and create action on this historically divisive issue. 

Activists To Stage Mass Civil Disobedience In Nation’s Capital This Week

This week, thousands of Americans sick and tired of big money in politics and unfair voting laws are descending on the nation’s capital, ready to go to jail, if necessary, for their cause.

Some just arrived from a ten-day, 140-mile march that began in Philadelphia on April 2. Many others joined on Monday morning in Washington, D.C., kicking off a week of rallies and sit-ins at the Capitol building and its grounds while demanding that Congress take action to curb big money in politics and institute free and fair elections. Over 3,500 people have confirmed that they’re ready to risk arrest.

The Democracy Spring network of over 100 groups is demanding that Congress pass four bills to restore protections against voting discrimination, expand voting accessibility, overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and match small political contributions with public funds. The activists also want Congress to hold hearings and an up-or-down vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Congress Is Infected With Climate Change Deniers, But Their Constituents Understand The Dangers

Here’s an inconvenient truth for the fossil fuel industry: The majority of Americans accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real and that it is a threat that must be addressed. This includes a majority of Democrats, a majority of Republicans, and a majority of citizens who do not identify with a specific political party.
 
But here’s a sad truth for Americans who believe in science: The majority of members of the ruling GOP party in Washington, D.C. refuse to accept the science that climate change is happening and that human beings are to blame.
 
According to a new report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, 59% of the House Republican caucus and 70% of Senate Republicans refuse to accept the reality of climate change. This means there are a total of 182 climate change deniers in the House and Senate who collectively represent more than 200 million American citizens (based on their district/state size that they represent in Congress.)

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