Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What Fuels Authoritarianism?

August Landmesser refusing to give the Nazi salute.
Trump and Bannon, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, and all those they lead, are tearing apart our democratic institutions, our carefully constructed safety nets, our infrastructure, our environment, our liberties. They are dismantling agencies that have helped clean our rivers, house our poor, educate our young. They are lying, dissembling, driving divisiveness and fueling hatred.

Where do they get their power from? What is funding the current onslaught of fear, divisiveness, bigotry, consolidation of wealth within the powerful, racism, misogyny? What is enabling them to attack our nation’s core values. How do we disempower their destruction?

The answer is no secret.

Fossil Fuels are not just driving climate change. They are driving our current authoritarian regime.

Let’s start with Paul Ryan, the House Speaker. Fourth largest contributor over his career? Koch Industries.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader? Fifth largest donor? Peabody Energy (coal).

Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson? A man who has done nothing but work for oil his entire career, who directed disinformation campaign to discredit science, who has been thwarted from oil profits by sanctions against Russia, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

Putin? The man that worked to help Trump win? Perhaps the wealthiest man in the world, leader of a petrostate.

But that is just the start:

"Trump has also put forward a host of other appointees who are overt climate denialists and generally also have financial ties to industries threatened by the Carbon Bubble. These include Rick Perry, Trump’s choice for Secretary of Energy and a close ally of Big Oil; Scott Pruitt (EPA Administrator — a virulent climate denialist); Nikki Haley (U.N. Ambassador, also known for suppressing climate science as Governor); …Ryan Zinke (Secretary of Interior — who strongly supports more oil and gas exploration on public lands): Jeff Sessions (Attorney General and climate regulation opponent); Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation, who will be tasked with getting a huge fossil fuel infrastructure plan through Congress, working with her husband, Mitch McConnell); James Mattis (Secretary of Defense, who is not a denialist but does have oil industry ties); Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor — and former oil industry lobbyist); Larry Kudlow (Council of Economic Advisors — a climate denialist and frequent defender of the Koch brothers); Wilbur Ross (Commerce Secretary — holds ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ in oil and gas investments); even Betsy DeVos (Education Secretary) is sister to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who is investing heavily in African oil and gas fields, ‘places where he thinks his expertise in providing logistics and security can give him a competitive edge.’”
They owe their power to fossil fuels.  

Their allegiance shows in their actions, too. During the transition, in early December, the very first actions were to send out questionnaires about which civil servants had worked on clean energy. Only moments after he was sworn in, Trump felt compelled to remove the White House’s policy page on climate change (These changes didn’t even include reference to ACA changes. It accompanied only support for law enforcement and gun rights). His first weekday, Monday, January 23, he managed to freeze new regulations and hiring throughout the executive branch and by Tuesday, he had issued three memoranda to renew and expand pipeline construction for oil and gas and issued an executive order to “streamline” environmental reviews. His budget slashes funding for the EPA and climate programs within NOAA and NASA. His latest is a move to privatize the Energy Star efficiency program, even though it has been highly popular with businesses and consumers.

In the Congress, we have seen repeal of the Stream Rule (signed quickly into law by Trump within a fortnight of inauguration), which protected water from coal extraction, and repeal of the Methane Rule, which required capture and use of the fugitive methane from gas fracking. We have seen the repeal of input from local communities into land use decisions by the Bureau of Land Management. We have seen fossil fuel companies regain the ability to extract oil in partnership with foreign governments in secrecy. The GOP even introduced a bill to eliminate the EPA altogether.

And it is only March, 2017.

To fight the current authoritarian regime, we must starve them of their fuel.

Every penny we spend on coal, oil and gas strengthens them.  Every penny we spend on carbon free energy, we resist.

If we want to fight the GOP and the Trump administration, we must do it by starving them.

[While it may not be the direct intent, resistance has already begun at the state level; California, New York, Massachusetts and other states are renewing and strengthening their plans to transition from fossil fuels. The states are not alone. Internationally, we may have allies in  China, India and other countries that have been doubling down on the Paris Agreement since the election.]

Do you want to resist the current regime’s bigotry, religious intolerance, racism, fear-mongering and wealth consolidation? Add individual action to state and international action. Every penny you spend on coal, oil and gas strengthens them. Every penny you spend on carbon free energy, you resist their authoritarianism.

Use one of the most powerful tools of resistance we have; refuse them their source of fuel. Decarbonize.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I'll be studying this and the links. The fossil fuel industry is the epitome of a centralized industry, in complete contrast to solar, wind and other distributed energy industries. Add to that the fact that they're losing their grip, and you get the kind of clawing, desperate attempt to corrupt the system that we're seeing.