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Thu Mar 19, 2020, 09:28 AM

Even In TX, Republicans Rolling Out Some Condesceding Milquetoast Greenwash Bullshit

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It was a pretty milquetoast statement but a remarkable one coming from (Ed. - Todd) Staples. A staunch Republican and former Texas agriculture commissioner, Staples spent his time in office attacking proposals to address climate change and once urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fire all its “treasonous” employees involved in promoting “Meatless Monday,” an international climate-conscious campaign to eat vegetarian once a week. In 2010 Staples joined Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott to promote the state’s lawsuits against the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency as it attempted to curb the nation’s carbon emissions, and all three sowed confusion about climate science in the process.

The idea that limiting greenhouse gases would be good, which Staples was endorsing, implies that emissions are in some way bad or have negative consequences, a concession with sweeping implications for TXOGA members, not to mention the broader Texas economy. If emitting carbon at current levels is harmful, then it follows, even from a conservative perspective, that the state ought to curb carbon, at least when practical. Was the mouthpiece of Texas Oil calling, indirectly, for a crackdown on the flaring of natural gas or for limits on methane emissions from leaky pipelines? For an end to the massive state and federal subsidies for fossil fuels? Or even for electric cars, solar farms, and nuclear power? Was Staples playing the role of Mikhail Gorbachev, and was this his glasnost (or, ahem, his gasnost)?

Staples took another question: Did TXOGA agree that burning oil and gas contributed to climate change? “We believe that all emissions contribute to climate change, and we believe that our industry is committed to doing our part,” Staples said. “Every emission, wood that’s burned, there’s carbon emissions from multiple sources, and to have a real conversation, we need to look at all sources.” The suggestion that a family in, say, Burundi, with a wood-burning stove is a coequal culprit in the warming of the planet is an indication that Staples was not exactly channeling Greta Thunberg. But the timing was itself telling. He spoke as unprecedented wildfires ravaged vast swaths of Australia, a leading exporter of coal, putting pressure on Australia’s conservative prime minister to acknowledge the country’s significant carbon output, even as he said he would protect the coal industry. In the United States, there are other signs of a thawing of hard-line messaging on climate change, even during the rule of an administration steadfastly opposed to doing anything about the problem. The American Petroleum Institute, the national counterpart to TXOGA, recently started referring more to the “natural gas and oil” industry, instead of “oil and gas,” emphasizing the more climate-friendly fuel, at least if produced and transported appropriately.

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For skeptics inclined to think the change in rhetoric was just a PR move, Staples for one was ready to oblige. Two days after his call with reporters, he went on the public radio show the Texas Standard to clean up his spill. It seemed as if he had intended to signal a change in messaging but was surprised by how seriously everyone had taken it. “I think the term ‘climate change’ has been hijacked. I think it’s been used to unfortunately introduce climate hysteria or climate confusion. I think the term is used in such a way to confuse the public that the sky is falling in,” he said. Much of the industry reacted to Staples’s message—and his subsequent walkback—with a shrug. But some were angry. “Unfortunately, many of these large companies feel the need to apologize rather than stepping up and talking about the dramatic impact cheap, reliable energy has made on our standard of living,” said Kathy Shannon, the executive director of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, in Midland. The right-wing advocacy organization Texas Scorecard accused Staples of “jumping on the liberal bandwagon.” One conservative blogger wrote that “one can only assume that Staples is now a non-climate-denier in order to reach future political heights,” perhaps mollifying the left in advance of a new political run. “He’s prepping as a Beto clone.”

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https://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/climate-change-denial-texas/

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