Big Data, Big Oil: Unveiling the 'Dark Forces' Behind Trump’s 2020 Reelection Campaign With Josh Fox
By Reynard Loki
Josh Fox, the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind Gasland, the documentary that started the global anti-fracking movement, is bringing a new message to audiences across the country with The Truth Has Changed, a live theater-based project that sounds the alarm on the right-wing disinformation campaign working to secure President Trump's reelection.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The climate crisis has wedged its way into the presidential campaign as President Trump, who has barely mentioned the fires raging on the West Coast, visited California on Monday. When pressed on global warming, Trump told a briefing, "I don't think science knows, actually."
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Reflecting on 2019, it is hard to grapple with the extent of this year's climate tragedies like massive wildfires and flooding. Yet even when things seem as dire as ever, there is continual news of progress, perseverance, and hope. And energy efficiency — the cheapest way to cut our energy waste and stave off climate change — is at the forefront of that progress and continues to be our planet's superhero, improving our health, creating high-quality jobs, and making our energy bills more affordable.
States Led (And Continue to Lead) the Way<p>With a Trump administration bent on stalling or dismantling efficiency efforts at every turn, states filled an important gap on setting efficiency <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lauren-urbanek/more-states-ever-are-pursuing-state-standards" target="_blank">standards</a> (so our gadgets use less energy) and in <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lara-ettenson/hoorah-states-pick-federal-clean-energy-slack" target="_blank">delivering building upgrades</a> (to cut energy waste and improve our comfort and health). The annual American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) scorecard shows where states are making progress and where more work is needed. </p><img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE2ODY2MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MTQ5MDk2Nn0.1nzUYHf9tJsAlESSZ8AXH6c8TH-kybo89_94dbdbbk8/img.png?width=980" id="bda26" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c8733c79650104a4dc2dc0430d850945" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
State Scorecard / ACEEE
Here Are Just a Few State Examples:<ol><li><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lauren-urbanek/more-states-ever-are-pursuing-state-standards" target="_blank">Washington</a>, <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/noah-horowitz/colorado-becomes-latest-state-safeguard-energy-efficiency" target="_blank">Colorado</a>, and <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lauren-urbanek/more-states-ever-are-pursuing-state-standards" target="_blank">Hawaii</a> adopted expanded energy and water efficiency standards, including for faucets, commercial kitchen equipment, computers, and more.</li><li>Illinois is moving forward with the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/laura-goldberg/energy-efficiency-day-il-celebrating-ee-ceja" target="_blank">Clean Energy Jobs Act</a> to require 100 percent clean energy by 2050, including a significant <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/resources/gas-efficiency-saves-money-and-builds-stronger-illinois" target="_blank">increase in gas efficiency</a>, while ensuring that programs help the most vulnerable communities while creating good jobs. </li><li>Missouri recently <a href="https://www.efis.psc.mo.gov/mpsc/commoncomponents/view_itemno_details.asp?caseno=EO-2019-0132&attach_id=2020009017" target="_blank">approved</a> an improved set of efficiency programs that will help renters and owners of affordable multifamily housing cut costs and energy waste while protecting the health of residents.</li><li>Michigan now has its <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/ariana-gonzalez/dte-irp-find-out-what-it-means-mi" target="_blank">first long-term outlook</a> for how Consumers Energy will serve its customers with clean energy through its <a href="https://mi-psc.force.com/s/case/500t0000009haqBAAQ/in-the-matter-of-the-application-of-consumers-energy-company-for-approval-of-its-integrated-resource-plan-pursuant-to-mcl-4606t-and-for-other-relief" target="_blank">"clean and lean" plan</a>, which includes an impressive increase of energy efficiency.</li><li>New Jersey began <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/ada-statler/new-jersey-ready-realize-its-energy-efficiency-goals" target="_blank">implementing</a> groundbreaking efficiency <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/dale-bryk/catapulting-new-jersey-clean-energy-future" target="_blank">legislation</a> to ensure its utilities invest in all cost-effective energy efficiency, positioning itself to become a national leader.</li><li>New York adopted the nation-leading <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/miles-farmer/new-york-raises-bar-climate-action" target="_blank">Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act</a> setting a path to net-zero emissions (efficiency playing a major role) while helping to advance equity for disadvantaged communities.</li><li>California adopted a <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lara-ettenson/california-sets-bold-path-energy-efficiency-innovation" target="_blank">new framework</a> to launch innovative <a href="https://aceee.org/portal/market-transformation" target="_blank">market transformation</a> ideas to get even more efficient products onto store shelves, helping cut energy waste in the state and beyond as those improved technologies become the norm nationally.</li></ol>
Job and Emissions Benefits Were Made Crystal Clear<p>There is no doubt that with strong policies to ensure high-quality jobs (e.g., those with family-sustaining wages, good benefits, a safe work environment, and a path for advancement), efficiency can help spur significant work for all Americans.</p><p>An <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lara-ettenson/energy-efficiency-jobs-soar-now-make-them-available-all" target="_blank">analysis from the group E2</a> identified 2.3 million energy efficiency jobs based on <a href="https://www.usenergyjobs.org/" target="_blank">2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report</a> data. Energy efficiency accounted for half of the energy industry's overall net new jobs in 2018 and employs twice as many U.S. workers as the entire fossil fuel industry. The workers who make buildings and equipment more efficient are earning good salaries in jobs that can't be outsourced. <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/daniel-sawmiller/ohios-military-and-veterans-benefit-energy-efficiency" target="_blank">Many are military veterans</a>, just another reason why this summer's passage of the appalling <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/media/2019/190723-1" target="_blank">HB 6 bill gutting Ohio energy efficiency programs</a> was such a terrible move for the state and its workers.</p><img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE2ODY3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjM5MTMyMn0.-TZPo7NaTCP2kNbmmTAbnsTfjFRCU3wh0NMnGQVDuM4/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bf41" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1e6257240956c0be291cde925bf4f3f4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Denis Schroeder / NREL
National Standards Despite Trump<p>Several <a href="https://appliance-standards.org/national" target="_blank">new efficiency standards</a> approved by previous administrations took effect <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lauren-urbanek/furnace-fan-dehumidifier-efficiency-standards-take-effect" target="_blank">this year</a>. And while the Trump administration's DOE <a href="https://appliance-standards.org/sites/default/files/Missed_deadlines_as_of_June_2019.pdf" target="_blank">missed more legal deadlines for review of product standards</a>, NRDC and others are holding them to account. A federal appeals court recently <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lauren-urbanek/victory-trump-administration-must-publish-delayed-energy-efficiency-standards" target="_blank">ordered</a> the agency to take the final step on four standards, ensuring upward of $8.4 billion in utility bill savings and substantial reductions in carbon pollution.</p><p>Even with this great progress, we're still fighting over the rules for setting standards. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed new process would make it far <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lauren-urbanek/does-process-rule-more-harm-good" target="_blank">more difficult</a> to advance products that give us the same (or even better) service but use far less energy, which would mean lower energy bills.</p>
Looking Ahead<p>We are far from where we need to be in terms of cutting greenhouse gases and serving all communities. As we reflect on 2019, we can <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/ralph-cavanagh/electric-utilities-energy-efficiency-progress-2019" target="_blank">learn from our successes</a> and build upon our challenges to make even more progress in 2020.</p><ul><li>Make sure everyone has access to clean energy. Getting sufficient funding to serve the most vulnerable communities has been difficult, but the opportunities are enormous, <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/marissa-ramirez/new-video-achieving-energy-efficiency-all-renters" target="_blank">including cutting energy waste, improving health</a>, and reducing the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/khalil-shahyd/study-highlights-energy-burden-households-and-how-energy-efficiency-can-help" target="_blank">energy burden</a>. Focusing efforts on these communities will not only help stave off climate change, it will improve their well-being, stimulate investment in their neighborhoods, and ensure that everyone is part of the clean energy transition. </li><li>Fight for our lighting rights. The Trump administration continues its crusade to turn back time on light bulbs. In its <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/noah-horowitz/does-latest-illegal-proposal-save-incandescent" target="_blank">latest proposal</a>, DOE would illegally permit energy-wasting versions of the regular pear-shaped bulbs to remain on store shelves indefinitely. <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/noah-horowitz/california-leads-way-again-time-light-bulbs" target="_blank">California, however, is again leading the way on efficiency</a> by prohibiting the sale of inefficient light bulbs in the state as of January 1, but the federal attacks on energy efficiency must end.</li><li>Keep up the state level work. Given the administration's denial of climate change and focus on advancing <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/trump-watch/list" target="_blank">industry interests</a> at the expense of everyday Americans, states MUST continue their leadership. Many states have great <a href="https://aceee.org/sector/state-policy" target="_blank">efficiency policies</a> in place and are poised for exciting progress, such as Virginia's opportunity to adopt an <a href="https://www.richmond.com/opinion/columnists/walton-shepherd-column-general-assembly-can-move-past-partisan-paralysis/article_a9050d22-6881-5c0a-bc53-b0925ff611e3.html" target="_blank">ambitious energy efficiency resource standard</a>, but other states require more work. Governors across the country have stepped up on <a href="http://www.usclimatealliance.org/" target="_blank">climate action</a>. It's time to do even more.</li></ul><p>There is no doubt that the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-climate-change-what-you-need-know" target="_blank">climate crisis</a> is real. But as we come to the end of a harrowing year for the earth, we have much to look forward to in 2020. Working in collaboration with equity and workforce advocates, industry, and governments, we can create scalable, comprehensive, and effective energy efficiency actions to cut pollution, make energy more affordable for everyone, clean our air, and create high-quality jobs.</p>
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An international group of scientists released a report today detailing how the fossil fuel industry actively campaigned to sow doubt about the climate crisis and what steps need to be taken to undo the damage, as the Los Angeles Times reported.
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By Kenny Stancil
The city of Hoboken on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against multiple Big Oil players—including ExxonMobil, incorporated in New Jersey—joining an increasing number of state and local governments using litigation in efforts to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for defrauding the public about foreseen climate crisis damages and to make companies "pay their fair share" of the costs of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a warming planet.
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Tech behemoths Google and Facebook have upped their respective pledges to the environment, joining the ranks of Apple and Microsoft. Earlier this year, Microsoft pledged to go carbon negative by 2030, meaning it will account for all the carbon it has ever produced and add enough mitigation to counteract its effect.
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By Andy Rowell
Earlier this month, we collectively walked into the unknown.
We are all now a living experiment. Never before in human history have carbon dioxide levels reached 415 parts per million.
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President Donald Trump’s Climate Change Record Has Been a Boon for Oil Companies, and a Threat to the Planet
By Vernon Loeb, Marianne Lavelle and Stacy Feldman
In the middle of his 44th month in office, two weeks before the start of the Republican convention in late August, President Trump rolled back Barack Obama's last major environmental regulation, restricting methane leaks.
Trump's Long Focus on 'American Energy Dominance'<p>When Trump delivered his <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27052016/donald-trump-republican-party-election-fossil-fuels-coal-oil-gas-fracking-climate-change-paris" target="_blank">first major energy speech in the fracking fields of North Dakota</a> as a candidate in May 2016, he called for American domination of global energy supplies.</p><p>"We are going to turn everything around," Trump declared. "And quickly, very quickly."</p><p>Once in office, Trump pursued a policy of unfettered support for fossil fuel development. He immediately signed memorandums to <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24012017/keystone-xl-dakota-pipeline-donald-trump-executive-order" target="_blank">revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines</a>, projects blocked by Obama. </p><p>In early March 2017, his administration ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/03032017/scott-pruitt-environmental-protection-agency-methane-greenhouse-gas-climate-change" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stop gathering data from oil and gas companies</a> needed to rein in leaks of methane, a potent short-lived climate pollutant. Fossil fuel infrastructure adds to greenhouse gas emissions, in part by leaking methane into the atmosphere. </p><p>He followed up, at the end of March, by issuing <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28032017/trump-executive-order-climate-change-paris-climate-agreement-clean-power-plan-pruitt" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a sweeping executive order</a> directing all federal agencies to target for elimination any rules that restrict U.S. production of energy. He set guidance to make it more difficult to put future regulations on fossil fuel industries and he moved to discard the use of a rigorous "social cost of carbon," a regulatory measurement that puts a price on the future damage society will pay for every ton of carbon dioxide emitted. </p><p>As his first year in office came to a close, Trump and Alaska's Republican senators inserted a provision into his signature tax cut legislation that called for opening the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling.</p><p>In 2018, domestic oil production hit a record high. The result of this, among other things, was the <a href="https://rhg.com/research/preliminary-us-emissions-estimates-for-2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reversal of three consecutive years of declining U.S. carbon emissions</a>.</p><p>Many of Trump's regulations have also been tailored to favor the coal industry, often at the expense of cheaper, cleaner energy. <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11102017/climate-denial-coal-industry-global-warming-robert-murray-energy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Robert Murray</a>, founder of the <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/29102019/coal-bankruptcy-bob-murray-energy-chapter-11-trump-regulations-rollback" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">now-bankrupt coal company Murray Energy</a> and one of Trump's closest industry allies, gave the president a "wish list" early on that became a virtual template for the administration's rollback of regulations. </p><p>The administration swiftly lifted an Obama moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands, to no real benefit. The decline of coal continued unabated, but Trump remained an unapologetic champion of the dirtiest fossil fuel. </p>
Trump's War on Science<p>When U.S. government scientists released their latest volume of the <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Climate Assessment in November 2018, </a>it revealed much about the robust, sobering scientific consensus on climate change.</p><p>It also revealed the striking disconnect between Trump and essentially every authoritative institution on the threat of global warming.</p><p>The president rejected the assessment's central findings—based on thousands of climate studies and involving 13 federal agencies—that emissions of carbon dioxide are caused by human activities, are already causing lasting economic damage and have to be brought rapidly to zero.</p><p>"I don't believe it. No, no, I don't believe it," Trump told a reporter after the assessment's release. </p><p>In almost every agency overseeing energy, the environment and health, people with little scientific background, or strong ties to industries they would be regulating, were appointed to scientific leadership positions. </p><p>One of the administration's first actions was to order scientists and other employees at EPA and other agencies to halt public communications. Several federal scientists working on climate change have said they were silenced, sidelined or demoted. The words "climate change" have been purged from government reports and other reports have been buried. </p><p>The administration's mistrust of scientists and its tendency toward science denialism would also become a prominent feature of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, when the president <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/20/politics/coronavirus-travel-alert-cdc-white-house-tensions-invs/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">muzzled scientists at the Centers for Disease Control </a>and chafed at the dire predictions of many epidemiological models for Covid-19 deaths. </p><p>With the nation in a state of emergency over the pandemic, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist who serves as Trump's administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/23032020/trump-epa-health-secret-science-coronavirus" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">moved in late March</a> to fast-track the "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science" rule. Wheeler replaced Scott Pruitt, an Oklahoma Republican who served as Trump's first EPA administrator before resigning in 2018 amid an ethics scandal. </p><p>Critics call Wheeler's transparency proposal Orwellian and say it would actually <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07042020/epa-secret-science-coronavirus-covid" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">limit the use of human health science</a> in environmental decision-making, by eliminating studies that rely on patients' anonymous medical data.</p><p>While Trump and his conservative allies contend that the reliance on such studies amounts to "secret science," scientists and leading medical authorities respond that it is standard practice to honor patient confidentiality in peer-reviewed studies. </p><p>Numerous studies, including one based on health data from 60 million Medicare recipients, have shown that one of the signature pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels, microscopic particles less than 2.5 microns in width—known as PM 2.5—kill as many as 52,100 Americans prematurely each year.</p><p>Less than a month later, as much of the nation remained locked down to halt the spread of Covid-19, a respiratory disease, the Trump administration rejected a recommendation from government scientists to strengthen the national air quality standard for particulate matter. Trump chose instead to maintain the current PM 2.5 standard, handing the fossil fuel industry a major victory.</p>
A 'Concerted Attack' on Alaska, Public Lands<p>The Trump administration knew no bounds for its fossil fuel agenda, pursuing drilling from the outset on pristine public lands in Alaska and the lower 48 states, where oil companies have long sought access. </p><p>Less than four months after taking office, Trump moved <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28042017/doanld-trump-arctic-offshore-drilling-ban-obama-executive-order" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">to lift Obama's offshore Arctic drilling ban</a> and, then, in July 2017, gave Italian oil company Eni a quick green light to drill exploratory wells. </p><p>In March 2018, the Trump administration proposed a resumption of leasing in Alaska's Beaufort Sea. President Obama, shortly before leaving office, had "permanently" withdrawn from drilling there. </p><p>By then, Trump had also carved 2 million acres of land from the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments in southern Utah in what amounted to the most sweeping reductions in protections for public land in U.S. history. </p><p>In September 2018, the Interior Department finalized a <a href="https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/Final%20Rule%20-1004-AE53%20-%20%20Ready%20for%20OFR%209.18.18_508%20%281%29.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rule</a> that loosens methane requirements for oil and gas operations on federal lands. A month later, the administration proposed a regulation to streamline and expedite oil and gas permits on national forest lands. </p><p>The following summer, the administration proposed weakening protections under the Endangered Species Act for threatened species and critical habitat. Shortly thereafter, the Interior Department commenced the public comment period on its plan for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that had been included in the 2017 tax bill. </p><p>In early August 2020, the president signed the Great American Outdoors Act appropriating $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and $9.5 billion over five years to reduce maintenance backlogs in the national parks. </p><p>The bipartisan legislation was sponsored by a House Democrat, but Trump extolled its passage as the most significant act in support of parklands since Teddy Roosevelt.</p><p>Still, the administration was preparing, on the eve of the Republican convention, to start selling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The sale was <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/26082020/trump-administration-alaska-oil-drilling-mining-projects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one of six pending projects</a> in which Trump was pursuing more drilling, logging and mining in Alaska.</p><p>One environmentalist called it the most "concerted attack" in 30 years on Alaska's natural resources. </p><p>All six of the Trump initiatives could still be blocked or rolled back in the courts, or undone by a new Biden administration working with a Democratic Congress. But for now, they are proceeding, with enormous consequences for Alaska's environment, and global climate change.</p>
One by One, Obama's Main Climate Accomplishments Fell<p>The same could be said for President Obama's environment and climate legacy: Trump's relentless attacks could be wholly or partially undone by a new administration and Congress. But for now, Trump has accomplished his mission: a near total elimination of his predecessor's most significant measures.</p><p>After countless piecemeal rollbacks during Trump's first two and a half years in office, the administration in June 2019 launched its long-awaited attack on Obama's signature plan to tackle climate change. Designed to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants, Obama called it the Clean Power Plan.</p><p>While the plan was challenged by industry and 27 states and blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court before Obama even left office, it encouraged many states to begin a process of planning for a transition away from coal-fired electricity at a time when cheaper natural gas and renewable energy already were forcing coal plants to shut down. </p><p>Next came Trump's rollback of Obama's 2012 automobile fuel efficiency standards, the single largest step any nation had taken to address global warming by cutting carbon emissions from cars and trucks. The weakened Trump plan will allow automakers to deploy fleets that average just 40 miles per gallon by 2025, instead of 54 mpg.</p><p>If Trump's standard ultimately survives legal challenges, cars and trucks in the United States would emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide during their lifetimes than they would have under the Obama standards. </p><p>Finally, in mid-August, Trump <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13082020/trump-epa-methane-emission-rollbacks" target="_blank">proposed the rollback</a> of the methane rules, the last major Obama environmental regulation still standing. Methane, a super-pollutant, is 86 times more potent in warming the planet than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.</p><p>The Obama rule required oil and gas companies to monitor methane leaks and fix them. The Trump replacement weakens those requirements, allowing companies<a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13082020/trump-epa-methane-emission-rollbacks" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> to release 4.5 million metric tons more pollution each year. </a></p><p>In the climate realm, Obama is best known, of course, as the driving force behind the 2015 Paris climate accord. </p><p>Trump first announced in a Rose Garden speech in June 2017 that the U.S. would withdraw from the accord in three years, as soon as the treaty allowed. </p><p>So, right on cue, two years later, on Nov. 4, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the United Nations of the formal exit of the United States, activating the final one-year waiting period. </p><p>The actual U.S. withdrawal is set for Nov. 4, 2020, one day after the presidential election.</p>
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Google has continued to curry political favor with staunch conservatives by making substantial financial contributions to more than a dozen groups that deny that the climate crisis is real, as The Guardian revealed in a bombshell investigation.
Thomas Hawk / Flickr
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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By Jake Johnson
Just hours before Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with wind speed surpassing that of Katrina, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a Republican National Convention speech Wednesday night in which he mentioned climate action once only to reject it, continuing the GOP event's ignoring or downplaying of an emergency wreaking havoc and devastation in real time.
<p>Speaking live from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Pence said at the beginning of his remarks that his "prayers are with" those affected by the hurricane <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-laura-energy/stronger-hurricane-laura-aims-at-heart-of-u-s-oil-refining-industry-idUSKBN25M23P" target="_blank">set to strike at the heart</a> of the U.S. oil and gas industry, sparking <a href="https://twitter.com/BiologistDan/status/1298778265147105280" target="_blank">warnings</a> of a looming "environmental nightmare."</p><p>"This is a serious storm," added the vice president, who said the White House is "working closely with authorities in the states that will be impacted."</p><p>The one time Pence mentioned climate in his remarks was during an attack on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who the vice president said wants to "abolish fossil fuels, end fracking, and impose a regime of climate change regulations." Biden's climate plan, <a href="https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/07/14/more-work-do-major-step-forward-progressives-welcome-bidens-2-trillion-green-energy" target="_blank">viewed</a> by green groups as insufficient but as a step in the right direction, calls for new regulations on the polluting oil and gas industry but would not end fracking or abolish fossil fuels.</p><p>Pence also touted Trump's <a href="https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/06/26/incredibly-reckless-trump-moves-expand-fossil-fuel-drilling-alaskas-western-arctic" target="_blank">destructive efforts</a> to ramp up domestic fossil fuel production and <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/09/18/the-myth-of-u-s-energy-independence-has-gone-up-in-smoke/" target="_blank">falsely</a> claimed the U.S. has achieved "energy independence" under the current administration.</p>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">3 nights. 69 speakers. <br><br>Now just one mention of climate change: Mike Pence saying they won’t pass a “regime of climate change regulations.” <br><br>Meanwhile...well, just watch the weather channel. <a href="https://t.co/xAoHaqqQ31">https://t.co/xAoHaqqQ31</a></p>— Jamie Henn (@jamieclimate) <a href="https://twitter.com/jamieclimate/status/1298836189277872128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 27, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
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The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.