U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva warned on Friday that days after Russia began war on Ukraine, the U.S. fossil fuel industry had launched a campaign misinformation aimed at promoting even more oil and gas drilling as the key to ending the conflict and helping Ukrainians.
In an opinion piece to The Guardianthe Arizona Democrat pointed out a request list the American Petroleum Institute – the largest lobbying firm for the US oil and gas sector – published just before Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week, including “Release permits for energy development on public lands” and “Accelerate the authorization of energy infrastructure”.
“With the facts laid bare, we see the fossil fuel industry’s crocodile tears for what they are – the same old demands for cheaper leases and looser regulations they’ve been peddling for decades.”
“I feel compelled to set the record straight,” the congressman wrote. “We cannot let the fossil fuel industry scare us into free-for-all national drilling that is neither economically justified nor environmentally friendly.”
Such demands falsely portray a fossil fuel industry “hampered” by President Joe Biden and suggest the United States must flood the global market with oil and gas to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin, Grijalva wrote.
“Much to my disappointment and protest, this administration has actually approved more U.S. drilling permits per month in 2021 than President Trump has in each of the first three years of his presidency,” the member said. of Congress.
The fossil fuel industry has already claimed at least 26 million acres of public land, he wrote, and has more than 9,000 approved drilling permits that companies have yet to use, as well as federal offshore oil and gas leases covering more than eight million acres.
“With the facts laid bare, we see the fossil fuel industry’s crocodile tears for what they are – the same old demands for cheaper leases and looser regulations they’ve been peddling for decades,” Grijalva wrote. “These calls have nothing to do with fighting Putin’s invasion or stabilizing gas prices, and everything to do with making oil and gas development as easy and profitable as possible.”
As Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media, wrote on Common dreams earlier this week, API, the fossil fuel giants it represents, and right-wing lawmakers who count the industry among their top donors believe “they can fool the public into believing that more production of fossil fuels in the United States will help Ukraine and hurt Putin.”
“API likes to claim that more infrastructure will allow the United States to flood the global market with enough oil and gas that Putin won’t sell any of it, but that’s not how markets work,” he said. wrote Henn. “As long as the world is still dependent on fossil fuels, money will flow to Putin’s regime.”
The fossil fuel lobby has been joined by anti-climate Republicans and Democrats in Congress in its effort to capitalize on the crisis in Ukraine, which has so far displaced more than a million people and killed more than 2 000 people, according to the Ukrainian emergency service. .
Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who has opposed his own party’s proposals to switch to renewable energy under the Build Back Better Act, this week called on the United States to “increase the production of ‘national energy’, while Republicans claimed in a letter to Biden on Wednesday that the shutdown of the Keystone pipeline project has left the United States and its allies ‘vulnerable to malicious maneuvers by Vladimir Putin’, urging him to approve more pipeline and offshore drilling permits and looser environmental regulations.
Naomi Klein, author of “The Shock Doctrine”, suggested on Twitter that the right-wing push for more drilling amid Ukraine’s deadly crisis is an example of “disaster capitalism”.
Right-wing lawmakers are also exploiting Americans’ struggles with rising prices for essential goods, Grijalva said, arguing that increased oil and gas extraction will lower the cost of fuel.
“But if that’s true, why has record oil extraction from federal and non-federal lands over the past decade not done anything to steadily lower, or at least stabilize, prices at the pump?” Grijalva asked.
Rather than ramping up oil and gas drilling, the congressman said, the United States must choose “a path forward that simultaneously cuts the lifeline of fossil fuel despots like Putin, stabilizes oil prices energy here at home and creates a safer and more sustainable planet.”
“We must wean ourselves off our dependence on oil and gas and make transformational investments in cleaner renewable energy technologies, such as those in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Building Back Better Act and the on competition, and we need to do it now,” he wrote. .