Without any fossil fuel emissions reduction measures, global temperatures will rise by about four degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. That will cause the collapse of ice sheets, disruption of ocean circulatory systems, and extreme weather events. The U.S. is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. The world and this country cannot risk another Republican presidency.
GOP Doubles Down on Fossil Fuels
House Republicans introduced a bill on March 14, 2023, called Lower Energy Costs (HR 1). The bill “provides for the exploration, development, importation, and exportation of energy resources.” In other words, it is a green light for fossil fuel development. Here is what the bill would do:
- Expedite energy projects
- Eliminate certain funds that provide incentives to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases
- Waive environmental review requirements
- Prohibit the president from declaring a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing
- Limit the authority of the president and executive agencies to restrict or delay the development of energy on federal land
The Republican National Committee voted in 2020 to use its 2016 platform, and a close look at it shows just how environmentally destructive another Republican president would be. Republicans believe that climate change is “far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue,” according to the RNC platform. A report by the Government Accountability Organization lists the various ways that climate change poses a security risk:
- Flooding: Flooding in Fort Irwin, California, which provides live-fire training for soldiers, caused over $65 million in damages.
- Melting polar ice: Increased erosion from thawing permafrost, decreasing sea ice, and rising sea levels increased erosion affecting radar sites that provide early warning and communication.
- Migration trends: Climate change effects could alter migration trends, which could pose national security challenges.
- Rising sea levels: The Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia repairs and modernizes Navy warships. It annually averages three to five significant high tides and one hurricane.
- Catastrophic storms: Hurricane Michael hit the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, and shut down most base operations for months.
- Utilities: Climate change could affect the production and efficiency of electricity transmissions, costing billions of dollars annually.
The Party of Drill Baby Drill
The Republican Party’s stance on energy is that oil and natural gas reserves in the U.S. are plentiful and are the pathway to energy independence. For that reason, the Republican Party supports energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, and on federal land. Drill, baby, drill sums up the Republican message on energy.
“The more we know what we will have in the future, the better we can decide how to use it,” the RNC platform declared. “That is why we support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production.”
But how responsible is it to increase oil and gas development on federal lands? Federal lands leased to the oil and gas industry from 2017 to 2020 could produce up to 5.9 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That is more than half the emissions that China emits annually–and China is the world’s largest emitter. Efficient natural gas plants emit about half of the carbon that a coal plant does. However, natural gas extraction releases methane, a greenhouse gas with a warming potential 87 times that of carbon.
The RNC platform calls coal “clean” energy. However, coal is a fossil fuel responsible for more than 0.3 degrees Celsius of the one-degree Celsius increase in global average temperatures, making it the largest source of global temperature rise. Global coal demand has remained high for the past decade. Emissions from coal alone would push the global temperature rise past the 1.5 C limit, according to the International Energy Agency.
Photo by Eelco Böhtlingk on Unsplash