GOP senators demand more fossil fuel drilling days after dire climate warning

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Republicans in the Senate don't seem fazed by a recent climate report the U.N. called a 'code red for humanity.'

On Aug. 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a "code red" report, warning that greenhouse gases were causing "widespread, rapid, and intensifying" changes to the Earth's climate. Just eight days later, on Monday, 24 Republican senators demanded the United States drill for more fossil fuel, a major driver of the emissions that are fueling global warming.

Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) authored the letter, scolding President Joe Biden for urging other countries to boost oil production and demanding he instead increase drilling at home.

"We are surprised by your recent actions in calling on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to increase oil production in response to rising gasoline prices," they wrote. "It is astonishing that your Administration is now seeking assistance from an international oil cartel when America has sufficient domestic supply and reserves to increase output which would reduce gasoline prices."

They asked the administration to deregulate domestic oil and gas development, arguing that "the best and most effective way to reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump is to unleash clean, affordable and reliable American energy."

The letter was signed by 22 other Republican senators: Mike Braun (IN), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Bill Cassidy (LA), John Cornyn (TX), Tom Cotton (AR), Kevin Cramer (ND), Ted Cruz (TX), Steve Daines (MT), Lindsey Graham (SC), John Hoeven (ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Ron Johnson (WI), James Lankford (OK), Mike Lee (UT), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Jerry Moran (KS), Mike Rounds (SD), Dan Sullivan (AK), Thom Tillis (NC), Roger Wicker (MS), and Todd Young (IN).

The letter comes after Biden asked OPEC last Wednesday to reverse a recent slowing of crude oil production.

"The production cuts made during the pandemic should be reversed," he argued, saying it would cut costs to consumers as the global economy recovers. The coalition of major oil-producer nations has shown little willingness to comply with the request.

It also comes not long after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group focused on climate change science, issued its "Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis" report.

After examining more than 14,000 scientific studies, the group came to the "unequivocal" conclusion that humans are fueling global warming and causing "profound consequences for the world's social, economic and natural systems."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said the findings were a "code red for humanity" and that immediate action was needed to "avert climate catastrophe."

While Democrats in Congress cited the findings to call for climate legislation, Republicans largely ignored it.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, "most of the emissions of human-caused (anthropogenic) greenhouse gases (GHG)" in the United States "come primarily from burning fossil fuels—coal, natural gas, and petroleum—for energy use." In 2019, "Fossil fuel combustion (burning) for energy accounted for 74% of total U.S. GHG emissions and for 92% of total U.S. anthropogenic CO2 emissions."

Most of the authors of the GOP letter opposed a bipartisan infrastructure package that could reduce the nation's reliance on gasoline for transportation. Last Tuesday, 15 of the 24 signatories voted against that Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act package, while Rounds missed the vote for a family emergency but expressed his opposition.

The $550 billion package included a significant investment in clean energy and electric vehicle infrastructure, including $7.5 billion for a national network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers and $2.5 billion more for zero-emission electric school buses.

Kennedy denounced the package as "not an infrastructure bill" but rather secretly the "Green New Deal."

Every one of the 24 signers also opposed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution which would include additional funds to combat climate change and create clean energy jobs.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.