War on science: Same old climate denial and lies from House GOP

  • Published on April 29th, 2021

Ever since the GOP tapped Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves to be the their lead “we’re totally not deniers now” guy on the House Climate Crisis Committee in 2019 — and he immediately hired a guy who used to work for the guy who managed Richard Nixon’s CREEPy reelection committee and whose claim to fame is co-authoring a dishonest GND “analysis,” — Graves has been the premier voice of predatory climate action delay.

‘Cancer Alley’ is an 80-mile stretch of chemical plants along the Mississippi River in Louisiana alongside many Black and poor communities
Cancer Alley’ is an 80-mile stretch of chemical plants along the Mississippi River in Louisiana alongside many Black and poor communities (Wikimedia Commons)

By Climate Denier Roundup

Not that he’s been particularly good at it. In his opening attempt to claim a mantle of climate concern, he admitted he was only looking for solutions that don’t include reducing fossil fuel emissions. Which … aren’t really solutions to the problem of too many fossil fuel emissions.

Graves then went on to say in 2020 that he also doesn’t like the idea of setting a target for reducing emissions, and reassured his colleagues that this supposed shift in the GOP’s position on climate is actually asking them “to double down” on their denial and fossil fuel support.

Now in 2021, he spent Earth Day repeating this duplicitous propaganda, doubling-down himself with a pair of interviews in Politico and the Washington Examiner.

In the past few years he’s gotten better at hiding his intentions, but they haven’t changed: he’s still opposed to any real or meaningful climate action, and is only presenting the appearance of a good-faith engagement.

And he doesn’t take long to make that obvious. In response to Biden’s climate agenda, Graves whined to the Washington Examiner that “this is a dictatorship.” (Though we would expect him to use the word approvingly, given that Graves voted against Democracy on January 6th.) Then Graves turned around and complained that actually Biden was giving Congress TOO MUCH discretion, because the plan wasn’t detailed enough and left too much up to them.

He was just as two-faced on China, first claiming that the U.S. should get more concessions from the country before making its own commitment.

When then told that his wish was actually granted and Chinese President Xi Jinping had announced for the first time that China is phasing out coal by 2030, his response wasn’t an honest oh okay, guess we can promise to do the same. Instead, he said that while “obviously, any progress is a step in the right direction,” he “would like to see more” because he says they have been known to “make commitments and then refuse to allow for proper verification or fulfill them.”

So the man who has for years said he opposes setting a target for emission reductions told the Examiner that he thought China should go first, and then China did, and then he basically said oh just kidding, lol, you can’t trust those sneaky Chinese!

He wasn’t any more honest at Politico. The first thing Anthony Andragna asked was “what’s different” between the current GOP offering, and the sort of bills one “could have seen discussed in the last year of the Obama administration,” and Graves’ reply was both stupid and slimey in its immediate defensiveness. “The reality is”, Graves said, “that we have really strong concerns that the climate issue has become more of a religion, then it has an actual science or evidence-based issue for some members of Congress, particularly the Democrats.”

Ah. Of course. Silly us to have forgotten that it’s the Democrats who are actually the anti-science party, and the COVID-denying, Q-loving, evolution-hating, climate-denying party of “alternative facts” and who used the phrase “reality-based community” as an insult is claiming for itself the mantle of “evidence-based.” Off to a good start!

Graves then goes on to say, in response to a question about what’s different between the “old” GOP approach and this one, that the bills they’re working on now are “much more grounded in sort of an evidence-based approach” that is “based on science, facts, and America’s resources rather than a strategy that really plays into the hands of other countries.”

Now, we’ll assume Graves was contrasting his bills with Democrats’ and not legislation from the “old” GOP, like the question asked, when he said their new proposals are “evidence-based.”

But even with that question-dodging attack, the idea that President Biden’s plan to build renewables in the US would help the Chinese solar market, instead of compete with it, is a pretty stupid lie. But it’s got a nice nativist ring to it, so it sounds natural coming out of Graves’ mouth.

Which really sets the stage for the rest of the interview. Andraga asked what Graves thought about how Louisiana is “losing a football field of land every 90 minutes or so,” which highlights the “real risks in betting that technology alone is going to be enough to solve this problem?”

Graves deflects here by saying that sea level rise “is not the main driver” of that land loss, and claims “the primary cause is actually the levying of the Mississippi River by the US Army Corps of Engineers.”

But the truth, which Graves certainly knows, is that the sort of dredging and levying he’s talking about was largely done for the benefit of the oil and gas industry. Louisiana is losing a football field of land every hour and a half because of the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels raising temperatures and melting ice, which raises sea level, AND because the oil and gas industry’s exploitation of the region is so intense and widespread it has caused the land to sink.

It’s doubly the industry’s fault, they’re getting sued for it, and Graves is quoted in a story about how they’re putting $110 million into restoring wetlands and resilience, so he definitely knows this, and yet he spins it like it’s the government’s fault and industry is blameless.

He then does the same thing regarding methane pollution. Politico asks about the oil companies and trade groups that support methane emissions regulations, and Graves’s answer is that he’s “generally supportive but…” then goes on to say he’s not really supportive.

He’s channeling the oil industry’s talking points here, more or less using methane as a bargaining chip — if you don’t let us build pipelines, then we can’t do anything about all this leaky methane! (They could easily plug their leaks without new pipelines.)

You get the point. Graves goes on to say lots and lots of things that all seem to add up to a ‘No’ on anything real, and a ‘Yes’ on anything that sounds real but is actually a bailout of the fossil fuel and timber industries causing climate change in the first place.

Is that progress? Is it any different from what Republicans have been offering for the past thirty years?

Obviously not, but that’s not going to stop Republicans from continuing the charade, so long as the industry is free to pour its profits into their campaigns.

After all, it’s not like the Oil and Gas, Lobbying, Chemical, and Electric Utility industries gave Graves over a million dollars for nothing!

(Originally appeared at DailyKos)

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