The Alphabet of Climate Change from A to Z ~ Now R for Republicans

by admin on January 18, 2023

Republicans seem to be going from bad to worse!

The Letter R for Republicans ~ Republicans Show No Concern for Global Climate Change

From the Article by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker Magazine, November 28, 2022

Reaching net zero in the U.S. will require putting such wrangling aside. It will require building out the transmission system while, at the same time, expanding its capacity so that hundreds of millions of cars, trucks, and buses can be run on electricity. It will require installing tens of millions of public charging stations on city streets and even more charging stations in private garages. Assembling the electric cars and trucks will, in turn, necessitate extracting nickel and lithium for their batteries, which will mean siting new mines, either in the U.S. or abroad. The new cars and trucks will themselves have to be manufactured in an emissions-free manner, which will involve inventing new methods for producing steel or building a new infrastructure for capturing and sequestering carbon.

The list goes on and on. The fossil-fuel industry will essentially have to be dismantled, and millions of leaky and abandoned wells sealed. Concrete production will have to be reëngineered. The same goes for the plastics and chemicals industries. Currently, ammonia, a critical and water heaters that now run on oil or gas, commercial and residential, will have to be replaced. So will all the gas stoves and dryers and industrial kilns.

The airline industry will have to be revamped, as will the shipping industry. Farming is responsible for roughly ten per cent of America’s greenhouse-gas emissions, mostly in the form of nitrous oxide and methane. (Nitrous oxide is a by-product of fertilizer use; methane is released by rotting manure and burping cows.) Somehow, these emissions, too, will have to be eliminated. All of this should be done — indeed, must be done.

Officially, the U.S. is committed to reaching net zero by 2050. But a task of this scale has never been attempted before. Zeroing out emissions means rebuilding the U.S. economy from the bottom up. Perhaps Americans recognize this, perhaps not.

In early July, at a time when much of the country was baking in ninety-five-degree-plus heat, the Times took a poll of registered voters. Asked to name the most important problem facing the nation, twenty per cent of the respondents said the economy, fifteen per cent said inflation, and eleven per cent said partisan divisions. Only one per cent said climate change. Among registered Republicans, the figure was zero per cent.


See Also: Despite Net-Zero Vows, Wall Street ‘Climate Arsonists’ Still Pumping Billions Into Fossil Fuels, Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, January 18, 2023

It is business as usual for most banks and investors who continue to support fossil fuel developers without any restrictions, despite their high-profile commitments to carbon neutrality. Top banks in the United States and around the world have made a show of embracing net-zero emissions pledges, portraying themselves as allies in the fight against the global climate emergency.

But a new analysis entitled “Throwing Fuel on the Fire” by a group of NGOs makes clear that the world’s leading financial institutions — including major Wall Street banks such as Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America — are still pumping money into fossil fuel expansion, bolstering the industry that is primarily responsible for worsening climate chaos.

According to the report, 56 of the largest banks in the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) — a coalition convened by the United Nations — have provided nearly $270 billion in the form of loans and underwriting to more than 100 “major fossil fuel expanders,” from Saudi Aramco to ExxonMobil to Shell.

Additionally, 58 of the biggest members of the Net-Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) initiative — including the investment behemoths BlackRock and Vanguard — held at least $847 billion worth of stocks and bonds in more than 200 large fossil fuel developers as of September.

Both the NZBA and the NZAM are under the umbrella of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ), a campaign launched in 2021 with the goal of expanding “the number of net zero-committed financial institutions.” Climate advocates have long argued that net-zero pledges are fundamentally inadequate to the task of stopping runaway warming.

“The science is very clear: we need to stop developing new coal, oil, and gas projects as soon as possible if we want to meet our climate goals and avoid a worst-case scenario,” said Lucie Pinson, the executive director and founder of the watchdog group Reclaim Finance. “Yet, it is business as usual for most banks and investors who continue to support fossil fuel developers without any restrictions, despite their high-profile commitments to carbon neutrality.”

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Kat Taylor January 18, 2023 at 4:49 pm

Op-Ed: How U.S. banks loans and debt finance fuel emissions and climate change

>> By Kat Taylor & Bill McKibben, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 18, 2023

As the world warms, expect a lot more heat aimed at global banks, in particular at the biggest American ones. That’s because they’ve allowed themselves to become the ultimate and most powerful enablers of the fossil fuel industry — and because, in recent weeks, some of their peers in the rest of the world have begun to move in the right direction.

It’s easy to see that Exxon has been on the wrong side of the climate equation, but you have to dig deeper to see why JP Morgan Chase or Bank of America or Wells Fargo or Citi share a similar responsibility. Basically, it’s because the money in their charge — your money if you’re a customer — is lent to the oil and gas industry, and because these banks, with assets of about $10 trillion, use their underwriting capabilities to issue corporate debt to these companies.

Sustainability and energy-finance scholars in the United Kingdom and Ireland calculate that 90% of new capital for fossil fuel companies derives from debt finance — bank loans and bond issuances.

And banks have that money to lend thanks in part to the support of our government — of all of us. All banks rely on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., for instance, a guarantee backed by the American taxpayer that their depositors’ money is safe up to $250,000.

But here’s where the carbon math gets interesting. Crunching numbers from a 2021 report calculating bank-financed emissions, it works out that $62,500 in one of the big American banks could produce as much carbon (about 8 tons) as all the heating, driving, flying, cooling and cooking an average American does in six months.

Your bank account — because it is used to expand pipelines, frack wells and the like — could represent the heaviest part of your climate footprint. And of course, it’s not just individuals: American corporations with billions in their corporate coffers deposit and invest those monies in ways that finance emissions and add to their carbon footprint.

When you get right down to it, your mundane local suburban branch of the Big 4 banks might as well have a smokestack on its roof. Yes, they also invest in wind and solar (and boast about it endlessly in their ads). But that doesn’t negate the damage that comes from expanding the size of the fossil fuel empire.

And this year we’ve seen that the biggest banks, because of their fossil fuel investments, are deeply entwined with Putin’s Russia. According to LINGO, the Leave It In the Ground Initiative, they provide nearly half the capital for the massive Russian oil and gas projects that climate scientists call “carbon bombs,” projects whose revenue pays for the real bombs falling on Kyiv.

Is all this inevitable?

No. Because one of us is the founder of a bank trying to align with society’s most important needs, we know that finance, while seemingly boring and unimportant, is both powerful and dangerous. There are many financial service providers that behave responsibly: local banks, credit unions and the like that are focused close to home, not off in the oil fields of the Siberian Arctic. Money, liquidity, credit — these can be forces for good empowering people to avoid existential peril and to realize important dreams.

But even the banks focused on making money globally could easily get out of the climate destruction business. Environmentalists aren’t asking for much: only that banks stop lending for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. In December, Europe’s biggest bank — HSBC, with $3 trillion in assets — pledged to do that, announcing it would cease lending for the development of new oil and gas fields, in line with the recommendations of the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The French banking giant Credit Agricole took similar steps earlier in the year.

If these European banking giants can do it, so can Chase and Citi, Wells Fargo and BofA. Remember, these are the very same banks that enjoy the prerogatives the American people bestow on them by insuring their deposits. And these money center banks — having grown “too big to fail” because they present a risk to the whole banking system if they do — get especially cheap money from the Federal Reserve.

In March, across the country, people will be protesting outside the branches of these behemoths, demanding an end to their support for fossil fuel expansion. As long as banking is supported by tax dollars, that’s the minimum we should ask. If society supports the banks, the banks should be supporting society.

>> Kat Taylor is the board chair, co-founder and former CEO of Beneficial State Bank. Bill McKibben is the founder of Third Act, an organizer of the March bank protest.



Brendan Gibbons January 18, 2023 at 11:33 pm

What House Republicans have planned for the oil and gas industry

>> Article by Brendan Gibbons, Oil & Gas Watch, January 17, 2023

After a messy confirmation process for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republican leadership last week began pushing forward an oil-and-gas-sponsored wish list, sometimes with an eye toward winning key Democratic votes.

Media coverage of high-profile messaging bills dominated Congress’s first full week of work, with reports focusing on legislation about abortion, competition with China, and claims of unfair treatment by federal investigators. However, House Republicans and some Democrats also signaled a plan to introduce bills that would boost oil and gas production and speed the permitting process for pipelines and other large facilities.

In a conversation with the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state – in her first interview after becoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week –said Republicans are working on a “package of bills” that would “secure American energy.”

“There’s a lot in these packages, but I would say it’s focusing on securing American resources, it is on permitting reform, it is on modernizing American energy infrastructure, [and] LNG exports,” said Rodgers, who also promoted carbon-capture and nuclear technologies during the interview.

Rodgers, a career Republican politician who served in the Washington legislature before rising to party leadership in Congress, supported McCarthy during his contentious bid for speaker. Rodgers is also a staunch supporter of hydropower dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Washington, opposing environmentalists’ efforts to remove them to improve wildlife habitat.

Joining Rodgers as speakers at the American Petroleum Institute event were Democrats from energy-producing states, including Henry Cuellar and Lizzie Fletcher of Texas and Mary Sattler Peltola, from Alaska.

The event coincided with the release of an American Petroleum Institute policy roadmap calling for multiple benefits to fossil fuel industries, including the following:

· Open up more federal lands and offshore waters for drilling and expand the total amount of leases offered each year.

· Stop the EPA from requiring that oil refineries with hydrofluoric acid units abide by its chemical disaster prevention rule.

· Block the Security and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate disclosure requirements.

· Revise the National Environmental Policy Act to shorten the timeline for environmental reviews.

· Authorize major energy projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline as “critical to the national interest.”

· Give the Department of Energy sole permitting authority over LNG plants.

· Stop efforts to require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to factor in climate, environmental justice, and landowners’ interests in its review of projects.

· Rescind President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel.

· Make more types of carbon capture facilities eligible for tax breaks, along with facilities that use natural gas to produce hydrogen.

“We’re ready to put in the time this year, with this administration, with this new Congress to craft and enact bipartisan solutions to make, move, and improve American energy,” American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers said.

Though President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate can block bills coming from the House, some Republican bills could get bipartisan support. One recent example was HR 22, banning the sale of oil from the U.S.’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. Key Democrats co-sponsored the bill, which the House approved on Jan. 12 on a 331-97 vote.

“America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve is meant for true energy supply disruptions, like those caused by hurricanes and natural disasters,” said Rodgers, who sponsored the legislation. “Draining our strategic reserves for political purposes and selling portions of it to China is a significant threat to our national security.”

But some Democrats pointed to the bill as a piecemeal solution. Democrat Frank Pallone of New Jersey pointed to the fact that the Republicans in Congress in2015 pushed for a lifting of a 40-year ban on crude exports to foreign countries. Since then, exports to China have risen to tens of thousands of barrels per month, though they made up only 2 percent of oil exported from the strategic reserve. Pallone didn’t mention that former President Barack Obama signed the 2016 spending bill that lifted the export ban. (At the moment, at least 18 projects to build or expand crude oil export terminals are underway or in planning stages in the U.S., according to the Oil & Gas Watch database.)

“Republicans’ first energy bill this Congress isn’t about investing in the resiliency of our electric grid or making American energy cleaner and cheaper,” Pallone said on the House floor. “Instead, they’re just recycling an old one-page bill that takes a minor step in undoing the damage that they themselves created.”

On Jan. 10, Rodgers’ committee held a roundtable featuring a spokesperson for the Independent Petroleum Association of America,the leader of a Black conservative think tank, and the owners of farming and truck stop companies.

The discussion centered on rising energy costs in 2022 and impacts to small businesses and consumers. Members blamed Biden, Democrats, and climate action and spoke as if production was down in 2022, despite last year being No. 1 for natural gas production and No. 2 for oil production in U.S. history.

“The difficulties are all above the ground, not below ground geologically,” said committee member Michael Burgess of Texas. “The purpose of this committee is going to be to dial back some of those problems that have really just accelerated in the last two years.”

Committee members avoided talking about the role oil and gas companies’ exports to foreign countries played in raising fuel prices. Energy economists have noted how a rise in LNG exports has contributed to some of the highest U.S. natural gas prices seen since 2008. A 2020 Government Accountability Office report states that exports of oil left less domestic petroleum for U.S. refining companies. Because gasoline prices are largely determined by a global market, more competition with foreign buyers hurt American refiners.

Efforts to advance the Republican energy agenda could also involve another House committee, less active so far than Rodgers’. Arkansas Republican Bruce Westerman, an engineer and forester first elected to Congress in 2015, was confirmed last week as House Natural Resources chair. Westerman last year introduced a bill that would have stopped the president from issuing moratoria on new leases and expanded more land for leasing on- and offshore.

The push to open federal lands for oil and gas leasing comes despite red flags raised by government watchdogs. A November 2021 Department of Interior report cited decades of warnings by the Government Accountability Office and the agency’s inspector general into the leasing program, which it said “fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate costs.”

The program also “inadequately accounts for environmental harms to lands, waters, and other resources; fosters speculation by oil and gas companies to the detriment of competition and American consumers; extends leasing into low potential lands that may have competing higher value uses; and leaves communities out of important conversations about how they want their public lands and waters managed,” the report states.

It’s unclear whether the Republicans’ new proposals will include reviving the Keystone XL pipeline. As recently as February 2021, Republicans introduced legislation that would have restarted the project to increase the amount of high-polluting Canadian tar sands oil imported into the U.S. The Obama Administration canceled permits for the northern portion of Keystone XL in 2015; as of 2022, parent company TC Energy says it will not revive the project.

A December 2022 Department of Energy report concluded that “the impact on consumer prices from Keystone XL, had it been completed, was inconclusive, particularly in light of the changes that have occurred in Canadian and U.S. crude oil markets since the … pipeline was proposed.”

The pipeline would have created more than 21,000 direct and indirect U.S. jobs during the two years of its construction, the report states. However, it would have led to only 50 permanent jobs once operational.



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