Archives for category: Environment

The New York Times revealed a shocking conspiracy among Republican state treasurers to thwart efforts to improve the environment. They have combined to punish banks that oppose climate change. Fighting climate change, they believe, is “woke.” They don’t care about the extreme droughts, storms, floods, and other climate catastrophes affecting their states and the nation. They want to protect the fossil fuel industry, not their children and communities.

The investigative report was written by David Gelles based on a review of thousands of documents.

Nearly two dozen Republican state treasurers around the country are working to thwart climate action on state and federal levels, fighting regulations that would make clear the economic risks posed by a warming world, lobbying against climate-minded nominees to key federal posts and using the tax dollars they control to punish companies that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the past year, treasurers in nearly half the United States have been coordinating tactics and talking points, meeting in private and cheering each other in public as part of a well-funded campaign to protect the fossil fuel companies that bolster their local economies.

Last week, Riley Moore, the treasurer of West Virginia, announced that several major banks — including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo — would be barred from government contracts with his state because they are reducing their investments in coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Mr. Moore and the treasurers of Louisiana and Arkansas have pulled more than $700 million out of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment manager, over objections that the firm is too focused on environmental issues. At the same time, the treasurers of Utah and Idaho are pressuring the private sector to drop climate action and other causes they label as “woke.”

And treasurers from Pennsylvania, Arizona and Oklahoma joined a larger campaign to thwart the nominations of federal regulators who wanted to require that banks, funds and companies disclose the financial risks posed by a warming planet.

At the nexus of these efforts is the State Financial Officers Foundation, a little-known nonprofit organization based in Shawnee, Kan., that once focused on cybersecurity, borrowing costs and managing debt loads, among other routine issues.

Then President Biden took office, promising to speed the country’s transition away from oil, gas and coal, the burning of which is dangerously heating the planet.

The foundation began pushing Republican state treasurers, who are mostly elected officials and who are responsible for managing their state’s finances, to use their power to promote oil and gas interests and to stymie Mr. Biden’s climate agenda, records show.

Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema were the two Democrats whose support for the Inflation Reduction Act was in doubt until the very end. Manchin won protection for the fossil fuel industry. Sinema killed taxes that would hit the hedge fund industry. The Washington Post explains here:

Senate Democrats agreed Sunday to protect firms owned by the private equity industry from a new minimum tax on billion-dollar corporations, bowing to pressure from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who insisted on making the change to the Democrats’ sprawling climate, health-care and tax package.

The decision came as Democrats tried to hold their caucus together through nearly 19 hours of debate over the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which the 50-50 Senate approved Sunday with the help of a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Harris.


The package proposes hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh spending, financed in part through new taxes, including a corporate minimum tax that would require firms with more than $1 billion in annual profits to pay a tax rate of at least 15 percent. As originally written, the provision would have required private equity firms to tally profits from their various holdings and pay the tax if the total exceeded the $1 billion threshold.


Sinema, who for over a year has blocked Democratic ambitions to raise taxes, raised objections on Saturday, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

The senator argued that, without changes to the bill, small and medium-sized businesses that happen to be owned by private equity firms would be exposed to the tax, violating a Democratic pledge to hike taxes only on the largest firms. A Sinema spokeswoman said several Arizona small businesses, including a plant nursery, had raised concerns.

The senator’s objections came days after she persuaded Democrats to abandon a different effort to raise taxes on private equity managers by closing the so-called “carried interest loophole,” which permits investment managers to pay lower rates on certain portions of their income.
In a statement, Sinema’s office said her goal is to “target tax avoidance, make the tax code more efficient, and support Arizona’s economic growth and competitiveness.”


“At a time of record inflation, rising interest rates, and slowing economic growth, Senator Sinema knows that disincentivizing investments in Arizona businesses would hurt Arizona’s economy’s ability to create jobs, and she ensured the Inflation Reduction Act helps Arizona’s economy grow,” the statement said.


The last-minute changes mark a significant victory for the private equity industry and an estimated savings of $35 billion over the next decade. Private equity represents a roughly $4 trillion industry in the United States, and as the sector has grown markedly over the past decade, it has flexed its considerable political muscle repeatedly in Washington.


From the start, the unusual way private equity businesses are structured posed a challenge for Democrats crafting the new minimum tax. Typically, large conglomerates are formed as “C corporations” under the tax code and pay corporate taxes. The new minimum tax would clearly apply to them. But private equity firms are legally formed as partnerships, which typically pay taxes on the individual returns of their owners. Senate Democrats say they crafted the legislation to ensure that wealthy investment managers who own numerous C corporations and other business entities collectively worth more than $1 billion would be subject to the tax.

But the tax was never intended to hit the smaller subsidiaries that make up private equity portfolios, said Ashley Schapitl, a spokeswoman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who called industry claims to that effect “nonsense.”


Independent analysts largely agreed with that reading of the provision. “The language in the bill was intended to make sure they are treated the same way,” said Steve Wamhoff, a tax expert at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank. “The idea that billion-dollar private equity funds must be protected to save small businesses is absolutely absurd.”

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Krysten Sinema held the power to block the Democrats’s ambitious bill to reduce carbon emissions and improve healthcare. Each of them extracted a hefty price in exchange for their vote, one that benefited either their state, their campaign donors, or themselves personally.

This analysis by the New York Times shows that Manchin got a trifecta: a win for the coal industry (big in his state), a win for his campaign donors, and a win for himself. Sinema demanded the removal of taxes on private equity firms..

Plenty of West Virginians are angry at Manchin. They are environmentalists. Senator Manchin takes care of the fossil fuel industry, not them.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — After years of spirited opposition from environmental activists, the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a 304-mile gas pipeline cutting through the Appalachian Mountains — was behind schedule, over budget and beset with lawsuits. As recently as February, one of its developers, NextEra Energy, warned that the many legal and regulatory obstacles meant there was “a very low probability of pipeline completion.”

Then came Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and his hold on the Democrats’ climate agenda.

Mr. Manchin’s recent surprise agreement to back the Biden administration’s historic climate legislation came about in part because the senator was promised something in return: not only support for the pipeline in his home state, but also expedited approval for pipelines and other infrastructure nationwide, as part of a wider set of concessions to fossil fuels.

It was a big win for a pipeline industry that, in recent years, has quietly become one of Mr. Manchin’s biggest financial supporters.

Natural gas pipeline companies have dramatically increased their contributions to Mr. Manchin, from just $20,000 in 2020 to more than $331,000 so far this election cycle, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission and tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Manchin has been by far Congress’s largest recipient of money from natural gas pipeline companies this cycle, raising three times as much from the industry than any other lawmaker.

NextEra Energy, a utility giant and stakeholder in the Mountain Valley Pipeline, is a top donor to both Mr. Manchinand Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, who negotiated the pipeline side deal with Mr. Manchin. Mr. Schumer has received more than $281,000 from NextEra this election cycle, the data shows. Equitrans Midstream, which owns the largest stake in the pipeline, has given more than $10,000 to Mr. Manchin. The pipeline and its owners have also spent heavily to lobby Congress.

The disclosures point to the extraordinary behind-the-scenes spending and deal-making by the fossil fuel industry that have shaped a climate bill that nevertheless stands to be transformational. The final reconciliation package, which cleared the Senate on Sunday, would allocate almost $400 billion to climate and energy policies, including support for cleaner technologies like wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, and put the United States on track to reduce its emissions of planet-warming gases by roughly 40 percent below 2005 levels by the decade’s end.

Read the rest of the story in the New York Times.

President Biden proposed a $2.2 trillion investment in stopping climate change, expanding health care, and other ambitious goals. But Democrats hold only 50 seats in the Senate, and the defection of only one vote would kill any bill. As it happened, the Democrats had two Senators who blocked Biden’s plans: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both demanded and won concessions. The bill that passed over the weekend is still a dramatic improvement over doing nothing, but the holdouts watered it down.

Except for Manchin and Sinema, every Democrat supported the bill; the two holdouts required concessions. Every single Republican opposed every part of the bill, except for the part lowering the monthly cost of insulin, supported by 7 Republicans, not enough to save the proposal.

As a general proposition, the vote on the bill shows that Republicans are staunchly opposed to any legislation to slow the devastating effects of climate change and overwhelmingly opposed to lowering the cost of prescription drugs. The seven Republicans who voted with the Democrats were probably given permission by Leader McConnell to break ranks, since their seven votes were insufficient to pass the provision.

WASHINGTON — After months of painstaking negotiations, Democrats are set to push through a climate, tax and health care package that would salvage key elements of President Biden’s domestic agenda.

The legislation, while falling far short of the ambitious $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act that the House passed in November, fulfills multiple longstanding Democratic goals, including countering the toll of climate change on a rapidly warming planet, taking steps to lower the cost of prescription drugs and to revamping portions of the tax code in a bid to make it more equitable.

Here’s what’s in the final package:

It is the largest single American investment to slow global warming.

The bill includes the largest expenditures ever made by the federal government to slow global warming and to reduce demand for the fossil fuels that are primarily responsible for causing climate change.

Energy experts said the measure would help the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions about 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade. That puts the Biden administration in striking distance of meeting its goal of cutting emissions roughly in half by 2030. Far more will be needed to help keep the planet from warming to dangerously high global temperatures, scientists said, but Democrats considered it a momentous first step after decades of inaction.

It would invest nearly $400 billion over 10 years in tax credits aimed at steering consumers to electric vehicles and prodding electric utilities toward renewable energy sources like wind or solar power.

A number of fossil fuel and drilling provisions as concessions to Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a holdout from a conservative state that is heavily dependent on coal and gas.

The measure would assure new oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet. It would expand tax credits for carbon capture technology that could allow coal or gas-burning power plants to keep operating with lower emissions. And it would mandate that the Interior Department continue to hold auctions for fossil fuel leases if it plans to approve new wind or solar projects on federal lands.

The tax credits include $30 billion to speed the production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and critical minerals processing; $10 billion to build facilities to manufacture things like electric vehicles and solar panels; and $500 million through the Defense Production Act for heat pumps and critical minerals processing.

There is $60 billion to help disadvantaged areas that are disproportionately affected by climate change, including $27 billion for the creation of what would be the first national “green bank” to help drive investments in clean energy projects — particularly in poor communities. The bill would also force oil and gas companies to pay fees as high as $1,500 a ton to address excess leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and it would undo a 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing established by President Donald J. Trump.

Medicare could directly negotiate the price of prescription drugs, pushing down costs.

For the first time, Medicare would be allowed to negotiate with drugmakers on the price of prescription medicines, a proposal projected to save the federal government billions of dollars. That would apply to 10 drugs initially, beginning in 2026, and then expand to include more drugs in the following years.

Opponents argue that the plan would stifle innovation and the development of new treatments by cutting into the profits that drug companies can plow into their business, while some liberals expressed frustration that the policy would be too slow to take hold. Should the package become law, as expected, it would be the largest expansion of federal health policy since passage of the Affordable Care Act.

The package would cap the out-of-pocket costs that seniors pay annually for prescription drugs at $2,000, and would ensure that seniors have access to free vaccines. Lawmakers also included a rebate should price increases outpace the rate of inflation. (Top Senate rules officials, however, said that penalty could apply only to Medicare, not private insurers.)

Republicans successfully challenged the inclusion of a $35 price cap on insulin for patients on private insurance during a rapid-fire series of amendment votes early Sunday morning, forcing its removal. But a separate proposal that caps the price of insulin at $35 per month for Medicare patients remained intact….

The tax proposals were shaped by Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, who resisted her party’s push to increase tax rates on the country’s wealthiest corporations and individuals.

To avoid the rate increase Ms. Sinema opposed, Democrats instead settled on a far more complex change to the tax code: a new 15 percent corporate minimum tax on the profits companies report to shareholders. It would apply to companies that report more than $1 billion in annual income on their financial statements but that are also able to use credits, deductions and other tax treatments to lower their effective tax rates.

Ms. Sinema did protect a deduction that would benefit manufacturers, a change she successfully demanded before committing on Thursday to moving forward with the legislation. And she joined six other Democrats and all Republicans in narrowing the scope of that corporate minimum tax by backing an amendment in the final hours of the vote-a-rama Sunday afternoon.

Democrats, to make up for the loss of revenue forced by that amendment, extended a limit on tax deductions for business losses that was enacted as part of the Trump tax cuts in 2017.

She also forced the removal of a proposalsupported by Democrats and Republicans that would have narrowed a tax break used by both hedge fund and private equity industries to secure lower tax rates than their entry-level employees. And she committed to pursuing separate legislation outside of the budget package, but that would require at least 10 Republicans to support it.

The Washington Post reports that Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema signed on to the “Inflation Reduction Act”—which provides funding for climate change/health care. Her demand? She blocked taxes on the wealthiest and on corporations that pay nothing. Why is she a Democrat?

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said she would “move forward” on a revised version of Senate Democrats’ health care, climate and deficit-reduction package, after party leaders agreed to scale back some of their original tax proposals.
The new approach — along with other changes to the proposal known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — satisfied Sinema’s chief concerns and helped set in motion a plan to approve it as soon as this weekend.

In a statement, Sinema said Democrats had “agreed to remove” a key tax targeting wealthy investors and had made changes to a second provision that aims to impose a new minimum tax on corporations that currently pay nothing to the U.S. government. From here, Sinema said she would await a final review from the chamber’s parliamentarian — a critical step in the process that allows Democrats to move their spending bill — at which point she would “move forward.”

Robert Hubbell is a blogger who always has interesting things to say. In this post, he excoriates Joe Manchin for destroying Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda. And he urges Biden to fire Merrick Garland for his unwillingness to open a case against Trump for attempting a coup.

What is happening to the America that we swore allegiance to every day in public school? what happened to the America that was “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? How did we get a rogue Supreme Court that recklessly demolishes women’s rights, the separation of church and state, gun control, public safety, and efforts by government to prevent climate disasters? Who kidnapped the conservative Republican Party that believed in stability and tradition? From whence came the people who scorn the commonweal and ridicule Constitutional norms?

Former state legislator Jeanne Dietsch has an answer. Connect the dots by looking at what has happened to New Hampshire. The coup failed in Washington, D.C. on January 6, she writes. But it is moving forward in New Hampshire, with many of the same characters and all of the same goals.

If you read one post today, read this.

She writes:

During the last few weeks, US House leaders documented the nearly successful January 6 coup piece by piece, before our eyes. That personal power grab failed. Meanwhile, the steps clinching takeover of our government by radical reactionaries have nearly triumphed. A plan decades in the making. A plan nearly invisible to the ordinary public.


I can barely believe myself how this story weaves from Kansas to Concord to DC to the fields of southern Michigan over the course of six decades. It starts in Witchita. Koch Industries is the largest privately held company in the US, with over $115 billion in revenues, mostly fossil-fuel related. For many years, two of the founders’ sons, Charles and David Koch, each owned 42% of the company.


The younger, David, studied in the engineering department of MIT for 5 years, simultaneous with young John H. Sununu. Both finished their Master’s degrees in 1963.

1980: THE KOCHS SET THEIR GOALS


Seventeen years later, David Koch ran for Vice President of the US on the Libertarian ticket. The campaign was largely funded by Koch interests. The Libertarian platform of 1980, shown below, may look disturbingly familiar to those following news today.

Open her post to read the Koch Libertarian platform of 1980.

Libertarians demanded the abolition of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public schools, aid to children, the Post Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and more.

The infrastructure for achieving that platform was founded two years later. It was called the Federalist Society. It was a plan by a “small but influential group of law professors, lawyers, and judges.” Its goal?

To train members of their professions to believe in “originalism.” Originalists “strictly construe” the Constitution as they believed the Framers designed it way back in 1787. This matched David Koch’s 1980 platform. It would leave corporations free to do whatever profited them most without regard for social costs or regulations. Older Federalist Society members used their influence to advance their followers to higher judgeships.

SUNUNU FAMILY ROLES


Meanwhile, John Sununu became governor of New Hampshire, then Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush. In that role, John thwarted a plan for the US to join the international conference to address climate change in 1989. Actions like this, that benefitted Koch and the rest of the fossil-fuel industry, would become a hallmark of the Sununu family.


In 1993, an executive of Charles and David’s Koch Industries Michigan subsidiary, Guardian Industries, became a founding trustee of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy [JBC] in NH. Its mission was to advance many of the policies listed on David Koch’s platform of 1980. John Sununu, and later his son James, would chair the JBC board through today. Another of Sununu’s sons, Michael, would become a vocal climate denier and industry consultant. Still another, Senator John E. Sununu, would oppose the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003. But the Sununus were not coup leaders, just complicit.

BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE COUP


But let’s jump back to the Federalist Society. Its mission was succeeding. They were stacking the lower courts.?..Those justices hired young lawyers as clerks. From 1996-97, Thomas employed a Federalist Society clerk named John Eastman.


Twenty-three years later, Eastman would meet secretly with President Donald Trump. He would convince him that Vice President Pence could refuse to accept electoral college ballots on January 6. But back in 1999, Eastman became a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. “The mission of the Claremont Institute is to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life.”


Now we’re almost at the secret clubhouse of the coup. The Claremont Institute was run by a fellow regressive named Larry Arnn.(Photo below) In late 1999, Arnn was in the process of replacing the president of Hillsdale College because of a scandal that made national news. Hillsdale promotes conservative family values. Yet its leader was having an affair with his daughter-in-law. She committed suicide. Hillsdale was the central hub for Libertarian radicals so they needed a strong leader to pull them out of the mud.

Please read the rest of this fascinating post. There is one blatant error: she refers to “Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer” as Koch justices, but Breyer was a liberal justice appointed by Clinton. She must have meant the crackpot Alito.

The Supreme Court issued a major ruling limiting the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions from power plants. This will have a major negative effect on curbing climate change.

Rolling Stone says the Court voted to let the planet burn.

The Trump majority strikes again.

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency stemmed from the Clean Air Act, an Obama-era law that mandated certain emissions regulations. West Virginia was one of several fossil-fuel-rich states to sue the EPA over the regulations, leading the Supreme Court to rule that the Clean Power Plan (the part of the Clean Air Act that called for emissions regulations) must be suspended until the courts could upheld its legality. The Trump administration issued its own industry-friendly plan that may have even increased emissions, but it never went into effect, either. The courts struck the Affordable Clean Energy plan down just as the former president was leaving office….

It’s now up to the Biden administration to propose a replacement. It will be severely limited in its ability to do so thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday.

Elena Kagan authored the dissenting opinion. “Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change,” the liberal justice wrote. “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

On the same subject: a roundup of articles about this horrible decision by David Pell of Next Draft

June 30th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News — https://wp.me/pbRvtl-7dF:

This Supreme Court wants a more religious America and after the past week of decisions, a lot more of us are praying. The latest 6-3 decision that may send even ardent atheists into the arms of the lord is one that limits “how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.” Most of the headlines I’m seeing frame this in typically narrow political terms like WaPo’s, Justices limit EPA power to combat climate change, a blow to Biden’s agenda. Hah. If only the damage were limited to one president’s agenda. Rolling Stone with the more accurate headline: Supreme Court Rules 6-3 That the Planet Should Burn. Justice Elana Kagan with the dissent. “And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints it- self—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decision- maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening. Respectfully, I dissent.”

+ “Credit where due: the Supreme Court’s 6–3 ruling in West Virginia v. E.P.A. is the culmination of a five-decade effort to make sure that the federal government won’t threaten the business status quo. Lewis Powell’s famous memo, written in 1971, before he joined the Supreme Court—between the enactment of a strong Clean Air Act and a strong Clean Water Act, each with huge popular support—called on ‘businessmen’ to stand up to the tide of voices “from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians” calling for progressive change.” Bill McKibben in The New Yorker: The Supreme Court Tries to Overrule the Climate. “In essence, the ruling begins to strip away the power of agencies such as the E.P.A. to enforce policy: instead of allowing federal agencies to enforce, say, the Clean Air Act to clean the air, in this new dispensation, Congress would have to pass regulations that are much more explicit, as each new pollutant came to the fore … But, of course, the Court has also insured that ‘getting a clear statement from Congress’ to address our deepest problems is essentially impossible.”

NYTThe case is a crucial moment in the G.O.P. drive to tilt courts against climate action. (Um… congrats?) 

+ Historian Heather Cox Richardson: “The Supreme Court has gone rogue. We are in a full-blown Constitutional crisis. Congress must act. And we must pressure Congress to act, while it still can.” In the meantime, Earth is down 6-3 in the ninth inning.

+ In another ruling issued today, Clarence Thomas suggested Covid vaccines are derived from the cells of ‘aborted children.’ (They’re not. But oh well…)

Naomi Klein writes at The Intercept about the common thread that links Trumpism, the “Freedom Convoys,” and Putin: nostalgia for the past.

NOSTALGIA FOR EMPIRE is what seems to drive Vladimir Putin — that and a desire to overcome the shame of punishing economic shock therapy imposed on Russia at the end of the Cold War. Nostalgia for American “greatness” is part of what drives the movement Donald Trump still leads — that and a desire to overcome the shame of having to face the villainy of white supremacy that shaped the founding of the United States and mutilates it still. Nostalgia is also what animates the Canadian truckers who occupied Ottawa for the better part of a month, wielding their red-and-white flags like a conquering army, evoking a simpler time when their consciences were undisturbed by thoughts of the bodies of Indigenous children, whose remains are still being discovered on the grounds of those genocidal institutions that once dared to call themselves “schools.”

This is not the warm and cozy nostalgia of fuzzily remembered childhood pleasures; it’s an enraged and annihilating nostalgia that clings to false memories of past glories against all mitigating evidence.

All these nostalgia-based movements and figures share a longing for something else, something which may seem unrelated but is not. A nostalgia for a time when fossil fuels could be extracted from the earth without uneasy thoughts of mass extinction, or children demanding their right to a future, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, like the one just released yesterday, that reads, in the words of United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, like an “atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.” Putin, of course, leads a petrostate, one that has defiantly refused to diversify its economic dependence on oil and gas, despite the devastating effect of the commodity roller coaster on its people and despite the reality of climate change. Trump is obsessed with the easy money that fossil fuels offer and as president made climate denial a signature policy.

The Canadian truckers, for their part, not only chose idling 18-wheelers and smuggled jerry cans as their protest symbols, but the leadership of the movement is also deeply rooted in the extra-dirty oil of the Alberta tar sands. Before it was the “freedom convoy,” many of these same players staged the dress rehearsal known as United We Roll, a 2019 convoy that combined a zealous defense of oil pipelines, opposition to carbon pricing, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and explicit nostalgia for a white, Christian Canada.

Oil is a stand-in for a broader worldview.

Though petrodollars underwrite these players and forces, it’s critical to understand that oil is a stand-in for a broader worldview, a cosmology deeply entwined with Manifest Destiny and the Doctrine of Discovery, which ranked human as well as nonhuman life inside a rigid hierarchy, with white Christian men at the top. Oil, in this context, is the symbol of the extractivist mindset: not only a perceived God-given right to keep extracting fossil fuels, but also the right to keep taking whatever they want, leave poison behind, and never look back.

This is why the fast-moving climate crisis represents not just an economic threat to people invested in the extractive sectors but also a cosmological threat to the people invested in this worldview. Because climate change is the Earth telling us that nothing is free; that the age of (white, male) human “dominion” has ended; that there is no such thing as a one-way relationship comprised only of taking; that all actions have reactions. These centuries of digging and spewing are now unleashing forces that make even the sturdiest structures created by industrial societies — coastal cities, highways, oil rigs — look vulnerable and frail. And within the extractivist mindset, that is impossible to accept.

Given their common cosmologies, it should come as no surprise that Putin, Trump, and the “freedom convoys” are reaching toward one another across disparate geographies and wildly different circumstances. So Trump praises Canada’s “peaceful movement of patriotic truckers, workers, and families protesting for their most basic rights and liberties”; Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon cheer on Putin while the truckers sport their MAGA hats; Randy Hillier, a member of the Ontario Legislature who is one of the convoy’s loudest supporters, declares on Twitter that “Far more people have & will die from this shot [the Covid vaccines], than in the Russia/Ukraine war.” And how about the Ontario restaurant that last week put on its daily specials board the announcement that Putin “is not occupying Ukraine” but standing up to the Great Reset, the Satanists, and “fighting against the enslavement of humanity.”

These alliances seem deeply weird and unlikely at first. But look a little closer, and it’s clear that they are bound together by an attitude toward time, one that clings to an idealized version of the past and steadfastly refuses to face difficult truths about the future. They also share a delight in the exercise of raw power: the 18-wheeler vs. the pedestrian, the shouted manufactured reality vs. the cautious scientific report, the nuclear arsenal vs. the machine gun. This is the energy currently surging in many different spheres, starting wars, attacking seats of government, and defiantly destabilizing our planet’s life support systems. This is the ethos at the root of so many democratic crises, geopolitical crises, and the climate crisis: a violent clinging to a toxic past and a refusal to face a more entangled and interrelational future, one bounded by the limits of what people and planet can take. It is a pure expression of what the late bell hooks often described, with a playful wink, as “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” — because sometimes all the big guns are needed to describe our world accurately.

Florida Senator Rick Scott released his 11-point plan for the future. It contains every “culture war” issue that gets Republicans riled up. Abortion, gays, race, gender, patriotism.

It contains not a single proposal to address climate change, the economy, jobs, healthcare, or any other idea to address real problems of real people.

Rick Scott’s agenda:

  1. Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them. We will inspire patriotism and stop teaching the revisionist history of the radical left; our kids will learn about the wisdom of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the founding fathers. Public schools will focus on the 3 R’s, not indoctrinate children with critical race theory or any other political ideology. 
  2. Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms. We are going to eliminate racial politics in America. No government policy will be based on race. People “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We are all made in the image of God; to judge a person on the color of their epidermis is immoral.
  3. The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end. We will re-fund and respect the police because they, not the criminals, are the good guys. We will enforce our laws, all of them, and increase penalties for theft and violent crime. We will clean up our cities and stop pretending that crime is OK. We have zero-tolerance for “mostly peaceful protests” that attack police officers, loot businesses, and burn down our cities. 
  4. We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump. Nations have borders. We should give that a try. President Trump’s plan to build a wall was right. We welcome those who want to join us in building the American dream, immigrants who want to be Americans, not change America. We are a stronger nation because we are a nation of immigrants; but immigration without assimilation makes us weaker. Politicians from both parties talk big about border security and do nothing. We are done with that.
  5. We will grow America’s economy, starve Washington’s economy, and stop Socialism. Socialism is un-American and always leads to poverty and oppression. We will stop it. We will shrink the federal government, reduce the government work force by 25% in 5 years, sell government buildings and assets, and get rid of the old, slow, closed, top-down, government-run-everything system we have today
  6. We will eliminate all federal programs that can be done locally, and enact term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress. Many government agencies should be either moved out of Washington or shuttered entirely. Yesterday’s old government is fundamentally incompatible with the digital era. The permanent ruling class in Washington is bankrupting us with inflation and debt, so they must be removed. For you to have more, Washington must have less.
  7. We will protect the integrity of American Democracy and stop left-wing efforts to rig elections. Today’s Democrat Party is trying to rig elections and pack the courts because they have given up on Democracy. They don’t believe they can win based on their ideas, so they want to game the system and legalize voter fraud to stay in power. In true Orwellian fashion, Democrats refer to their election rigging plans as “voting rights”. We won’t allow the radical left to destroy our democracy by institutionalizing dishonesty and fraud.
  8. We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family at all costs. The nuclear family is crucial to civilization, it is God’s design for humanity, and it must be protected and celebrated. To say otherwise is to deny science. The fanatical left seeks to devalue and redefine the traditional family, as they undermine parents and attempt to replace them with government programs. We will not allow Socialism to place the needs of the state ahead of the family. 
  9. Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. We believe in science: Men and women are biologically different, ‘male and female He created them.’ Modern technology has confirmed that abortion takes a human life. Facts are facts, the earth is round, the sun is hot, there are two genders, and abortion stops a beating heart. To say otherwise is to deny science.
  10. Americans will be free to welcome God into all aspects of our lives, and we will stop all government efforts to deny our religious freedom and freedom of speech. The Democrat Party and their Big Tech allies are not merely secular; they have virtually created a new religion of wokeness that is increasingly hostile toward people of faith, particularly Christians and Jews. They are determined to drive all mention of God out of public view. We will not be silenced, canceled, or told what words to use by the politically correct crowd. 
  11. We are Americans, not globalists. America will be dependent on NO other country. We will conduct no trade that takes away jobs or displaces American workers. Countries who oppose us at the UN will get zero financial help from us. We will be energy independent and build supply chains that never rely on our adversaries. We will only help countries that are willing to defend themselves, like Israel.