Love Story: The GOP, Big Oil and the Budget Deal

GrandOilPartyThe major budget deal reached by negotiators in Congress last night had important wins for the environment, but it would have been a disaster absent the threat of a presidential veto.  That simple fact, too easily overlooked, lays bare the blinding desire of the Republican Party to please Big Oil at all costs, even if it means dropping much of the rest of their anti-environment agenda for the time being.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to bargain with Democrats, and ditch some of the outrageous anti-environment riders his GOP colleagues sought to attach to the bill, only because Barack Obama still resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He needed Democrats to rescue him from the so-called Freedom Caucus of Republicans whose organizing principle is to shut down the government and ship copies of Ayn Rand novels to idled federal workers.

With a President Cruz or Trump (or Rubio or Bush) in the White House to back them up, Congressional Republicans would have been free to lay waste to vital clean water protections and kill the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which undergirds the Paris climate agreement. But last night the GOP’s dominant anti-environment crowd traded all of that for one Democratic concession – the end to the oil export ban – not least because it was the top priority of their beloved, the oil industry.

Days after the Paris agreement that struck a blow to Big Oil, Republicans have responded by force-feeding the worldwide glut of dirty energy. That could stoke the production of oil – good for Big Oil but not of much benefit to anyone else – and make attacking climate change harder.

Voters will decide in 2016 whether this affair has gone on too long, and they appear not to be the mood for the usual dissembling and distortion when it comes to action on climate change and clean energy. If Republicans stay true to Big Oil, they may lose the White House again.

Man, the things we do for love.

Franz Matzner is a senior adviser to the NRDC Action Fund.

A win in the Keystone XL pipeline fight

While most of us were caught up in the emerging Herman Cain scandal of last week, big news came from the White House that President Obama called for a new review and year-long delay in the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.

The announcement is a tremendous victory for all those who stood up against the Keystone XL pipeline and is a real testament for the strength of a people powered movement.

Here’s a great blog post by NRDC President Frances Beinecke on the administration’s decision to delay:

President Obama took a stand for the people of Nebraska today, and Americans everywhere, when his administration stood up to Big Oil to say we won’t put our people, waters and croplands at risk for the sake of pipeline profits and dirty fuels.

That kind of leadership takes courage, and I applaud the president for doing the right thing.

The State Department has decided to conduct a new review of the Keystone XL proposal. In its statement, officials said they will analyze alternative routes for the pipeline, but they also mentioned the need to consider “environmental concerns, including climate change.” The process will likely take until early 2013.

This is a major victory. For months, we’ve demonstrated the State Department’s review of the pipeline was flawed, inadequate, and possibly even biased. This project simply cannot withstand scrutiny. We are confident that after thorough review, President Obama will kill this dangerous pipeline once and for all.

Today’s announcement confirms the President’s commitment to building a clean energy future. In July, he proposed clean car standards that will cut vehicle carbon pollution in half, reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030, and create up to 150,000 American jobs. Earlier this week, the administration moved ahead with plans to limit carbon pollution from new power plants.

These measures will unleash innovation, make the air safer for our families, and put Americans to work bringing our cars and power plants into the 21st century. Dirty tar sands oil—the production of which releases three times as many greenhouse gases as conventional crude—has no place in that future.

To learn more, continue reading “Victory in Keystone XL Pipeline Fight: Obama Administration Calls for New Review and a Year Delay.”