Oil and gas companies are licking their chops and salivating at the prospect of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives led by the abhorrent Kevin McCarthy, while the majority of us here at CleanTechnica are positively giddy at how successfully the Biden administration has promoted clean energy initiatives, such as the tax incentives for installing heat pumps, back in the real world.
Watch for all these programs to come to a screaming halt overnight as America swings backward into a petro-state where fossil fuels are valued more than life itself if it transpires that the Senate also returns to Republican control. Not only may that happen, but it almost likely will if the most recent polling is correct (which it frequently isn’t).
Why? because the cost of gas is too high. The cost of gasoline and political polls have been strongly correlated this year, as Paul Krugman notes in the New York Times . When gas prices rose to an average of $5 per gallon earlier this year, a Republican victory looked inevitable. Gas prices had decreased by over $1.50 by mid-September, making the election appear much more competitive. Additionally, a recent apparent decline in Democrats’ chances and a slight price increase in late September and early October were related.
Krugman continues by explaining why the current administration actually has very little influence over the price drivers pay at the pump. On the other hand, unlike the price of energy, which is hidden somewhere in the fine print of our monthly utility bill, we are all painfully aware of price hikes since we see the rates advertised wherever we walk.
It’s difficult to imagine of a worse criterion for measuring a president and his party than a price that is primarily based on international events and domestic technical production problems, a price that isn’t even high compared to, say, a decade ago. Yet it is absurd and terrifying to think that petrol prices could influence a significant election.
Speaking only for myself as an outspoken and unreconstructed liberal, I can’t help but draw a parallel between electing a conservative to Congress and a certain GEICO ad that runs every year around Halloween.
WHO IS REPRESENTED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES? This is proof. According to another New York Times article, “Oil and gas industry lobbyists are already working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to push back against what they consider the Biden administration’s anti-fossil fuel agenda, anticipating that Republicans could take control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. The American Gas Association is assisting in leading the charge, specifically targeting a program that encourages households to switch from natural gas-powered furnaces and stoves to electric-powered appliances in the name of combating climate change.
The goal is to undercut a $4.5 billion program that will provide low and moderate income households with subsidies of up to $14,000 per home to install heat pumps, water heaters, induction stoves, and other equipment that will replace appliances that use natural gas.
According to a recording of the event that the New York Times has listened to, Allison Cunningham, the head lobbyist for the gas association, said at a conference in Minneapolis with other gas industry executives last month: “Republicans are expected to retake the House of Representatives, and they are champing at the bit to do some oversight to try to change the law where they can.”
Representative Bill Johnson, a Republican from Ohio and member of the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee, stated in an interview that he had been speaking with the gas industry about the issues and was eager to try to elevate them in the upcoming Congress, which will begin in January.
Mr. Johnson, who represents a rural region in southeast Ohio that is a significant supplier of natural gas, asserted that the focus should be on energy efficiency rather than societal re-engineering. Under the cover of efficiency rules, the “energy” department is attempting to forward a hasty green agenda.
An accelerated green agenda? Does Johnson’s head contain a functioning brain? Is he aware that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the more frequent storms, intense heat waves, and punishing droughts that his community is experiencing, or is he just a fossil fuel stooge who will say and do anything to continue receiving campaign contributions from the natural gas industry, health and safety of his constituents be damned? Your choice.
The installation of gas appliances in new homes is currently prohibited in at least 21 states thanks to legislation that was vigorously lobbied for by the natural gas industry. This legislation also places restrictions on the ability of local governments, including New York City and several communities in California, to impose such restrictions.
The fossil fuel industry is ready to work with Republicans in the House of Representatives to push back, according to Lauren Urbanek, a deputy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has championed the move away from natural gas. They unquestionably are not protecting American consumers, she declared. “The main goal here is to ensure their continued existence as a sector.”
LIES RELATED TO HEAT PUMPS The American Gas Association’s Richard Meyer, a vice president, refuted the argument, claiming that the rebate scheme is defective since households can receive money just for purchasing electric appliances, even if those items do not increase energy efficiency in their houses. A claim that is disputed by proponents of renewable energy is that gas heat might occasionally be less expensive on a monthly basis, especially in really cold places.
Readers of CleanTechnica are aware that modern heat pumps are completely capable of supplying heat even in extremely cold areas. Another factor to take into account is that, unlike natural gas and propane, the price of electricity does not change dramatically from one week to the next or from one month to the next.
A Biden administration proposal that would impose stricter energy efficiency criteria for natural gas-fired furnaces is also being opposed by the gas sector. The Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Furnaces would essentially prohibit the installation of new typical furnaces because they squander a lot of the natural gas they consume to produce heat.
In order to combat the unstoppable rise in average world temperatures, energy efficiency is essential. The fact that an electric automobile can transfer up to 95% of the energy in its battery into forward motion is one of the main benefits of using one. A typical gasoline-powered car is fortunate to be 25% efficient.
According to the Energy Department, just this furnace efficiency requirement will save consumers $30 billion over the course of three decades and prevent the release of more than 363 million tons of carbon dioxide. These estimates, according to the American Gas Association, are inaccurate because they are the result of “severe methodological and statistical problems.” They are therefore detrimental to the sector. In a letter of comment filed to the Department this month, the AGA said that “the department is unlawfully promoting fuel switching.”
This is a variation of the usual babble from reactionaries that the government shouldn’t be choosing winners and losers in the business sector, even while some of those losers are actively harming human survival on Earth. When there is money to be made, how dare those evil leftists care about humanity!
IMPAIRING PEOPLE’S QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES According to Cunningham and Johnson, it is unlikely that legislation will be passed in the House of Representatives to halt either the subsidies or the requirement for furnace efficiency. However, House Republicans have the power to make life difficult for administration officials by barrage them with requests for papers and testimony (think Benghazi and Solyndra here).
When they talk about the potential to assist in creating interview questions for Biden administration officials like Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the Times claims that there is almost a delight in their voices. According to Kathleen Sgamma, head of the Western Energy Alliance, an organization representing the oil business, “She has managed to escape inquiries anytime she has appeared before a Democrat committee chair.” She won’t likely receive the same treatment if the Republicans take over. She hasn’t actually been held accountable.
Industry lobbyists claimed that bringing up these projects is a strategy to put the Biden administration on the defensive. At the industry meeting last month, Ms. Cunningham informed the other executives in the gas business, “They are going to be looking for the next Solyndra.”
THE CONCLUSION The reactionaries in Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, have made it very obvious that they would prefer to advance the commercial interests of their significant campaign donors than those of the voters who chose them. You simply don’t understand politics if you believe that sounds corrupt.
American government at all levels has been for sale to the highest bidder, particularly since the Citizens United verdict by the so-called Supreme Court. Even if the future of the Earth’s ecology is at stake, that is unlikely to change very soon.
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