Despite a plethora of scientific warnings and the overwhelming economic logic of climate action, the alliance between Republicans and the fossil fuel industry is keeping climate denial and dirty energy alive. Republicans have systematically undermined democracy through protracted campaigns of disinformation that distort the facts and muddies public confidence in science so that they can manipulate the American public, hold on to power and line their pockets.
Republicans are gaming the system and their insidious disinformation campaigns extend to our schools. They use a wide range of tactics to hold onto power including voter suppression, redistricting, hate, efforts to undermine voter confidence, and false allegations of voter rigging. It is tragically ironic that Russia meddled in the electoral outcome to help elect Donald Trump.
It is important to understand that Trump did not emerge from a vacuum, he is the byproduct of the GOP’s tactics. Although Trump is often considered to be the most corrupt president ever to occupy the office, Republican corruption predates his presidency. In 2015, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse attributed climate disinformation to the fossil fuel industry and their Republican minions. Subsequent analyses have revealed the ways in which the fossil fuel industry buys politicians and political outcomes. There has also been increasing scrutiny of the ways that Republicans use their power to buoy the dominance of dirty energy.
Republicans are once again doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry this time by targeting renewable energy which is struggling from the impacts of COVID-19. This is consistent with the Trump administration’s disdain for renewables and love of fossil fuels. Although Republicans are refusing to support renewable energy they continue to support fossil fuels. This is in addition to subsidies for oil and gas that are already ten times what the U.S. spends on education. This is made possible by virtue of the fact that the fossil fuel industry pays legislators to protect its funding.
As reported by Geoff Dembicki in a Vice article, efforts to undermine renewable energy are coming from climate-denying fossil fuel-funded conservative groups. This effort is being led by Life: Powered which is the spawn of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based “think tank”. They sent a letter signed by 27 right-wing think tanks encouraging law-makers to block aid to solar and wind companies.
Although Democrats wanted to see support for clean energy, Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are following the dictates of their conservative overlords and refusing to consider additional tax credits to solar and wind companies. Republicans made sure that support for renewables was excluded from the stimulus package that was signed into law on March 30. These same forces will be working to ensure that climate action gets no support in forthcoming stimulus packages.
The fossil fuel industry has been instrumental in galvanizing opposition to climate action and Republicans are instrumental to dirty energy’s control over American politics.