The Democrat in the White House may be different, but the attacks are very familiar. The initial bombing of Joe Biden to tackle the climate crisis has sparked a hostile Republican reaction eerily similar to the opposition that blocked Barack Obama 12 years ago. Once again, efforts to reduce global warming emissions are being branded as radical, elitist, and job destroyers.
Republican lawmakers in Congress have denounced Biden’s wave of executive orders on climate and even inserted legislation to bypass the president and pass the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Republican-led states are also joining the fray with Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, who vows to use the courts to block Biden’s move to stop drilling for oil and gas on public lands. “Texas is going to protect the oil and gas industry from any hostile attack launched from Washington, DC,” Abbott said.
While some younger and moderate Republicans to wish To reform the party’s position on the climate, criticism of Biden has ventured into strange territory, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz. tweeting that the president has shown that he is “more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh” by rejoining an international agreement to reduce emissions that was signed in Paris. John Kennedy, another Republican senator, scoffed at Biden’s plan to boost the adoption of electric cars tell Fox News Tuesday that “my car does not run out of fairy dust, it does not run off with unicorn urine.”
The Republican attack has been amplified and fed by Fox News, which has issued a series of misleading claims on the Paris agreement and the economic impact of addressing the climate crisis. Much of this has focused on the Keystone pipeline project, lamenting the loss of 10,000 temporary jobs that does not exist yet. Meanwhile, despite Facebook’s attempt to promote accurate climate science, the platform is still used routinely by conservative entities like Prager University, a nonprofit media company, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to spread dozens of climate misinformation ads to millions of people.
This range of opposition “is pretty much the standard Republican message for any kind of climate proposal,” said Robert Brulle, a Brown University scholar whose own investigation has found that fossil fuel companies spent $ 2 billion lobbying legislators on climate change between 2000 and 2016. “This argument certainly resonates in areas with a large presence of fossil fuel use.”
It is also a line of attack that the Biden administration has prepared for, with the initial salvo of executive orders framed as a job creation opportunity for millions of workers. “Unfortunately, workers have been fed a false narrative, fed the notion that somehow dealing with the weather has been at their expense. No, he hasn’t, ”John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, said last week. Kerry noted that the solar industry was adding jobs rapidly ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the coal industry has entered a sharp decline.
But public and business opinion on the climate crisis has changed dramatically since such tactics could frustrate Obama on the issue. Voter alarm over floods, wildfires and other weather-related disasters is at record highs, and even a majority of Republicans want government action. The stubbornness of elected Republicans is becoming “increasingly untenable,” according to Brulle.
An energetic youth-led climate movement has flourished as there has been a radical transformation, at least in public image, in the corporate world, where even the major oil companies now embrace climate science and the need for a transition to clean energy. The surprising tenor change from Donald Trump’s term, where the former president wore a coal miner’s helmet at rallies and pretended to drive a giant truck at the White House, is illustrated by a new ad from General Motors, the automaker. largest and most serious in the United States. who uses Will Ferrell to show off of its plan to overtake Norway in making electric cars.
This new context has led to warnings from younger and moderate Republicans that the party risks being irrelevant if it clings to denial or obstructionism over the climate crisis. “The Republicans have cornered themselves,” said Naomi Oreskes, a science historian at Harvard University. “They need an exit strategy and so far they haven’t found it.”
The deadlock may prove detrimental to Republicans amid a wave of younger voters, but more immediately it means that there is only one narrow legislative path for Biden to help reduce the global warming gases and put the US down. On the road to zero net emissions by 2050, he has been stung by Biden’s onslaught of executive action on climate, but the president will demand deeper emissions cuts from Congress and will have to choose his battles in a finely balanced Senate.
There is a “decent chance” that some kind of bipartisan legislation could pass a national clean energy standard and financing for wind and solar power, if not a carbon tax or other broader action, according to Jeff Holmstead, a Republican who was deputy administrator. at the Environmental Protection Agency.
“A lot of Republicans are looking for things they can support to tackle climate change,” said Holmstead, now a partner at the Bracewell law firm. That said, Biden will still be in trouble if it is viewed simply as an attack on fossil fuels. If Biden veers too far to the left, he will have trouble with Republicans and moderate Democrats. That is why it has kept a distance from the Green New Deal. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism