The state power structure’s defense of the fossil fuel industry is beginning to take on new levels of absurdity and insularity.
First, there’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who’s been out promoting his book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, a tribute book to oil and gas companies, which have contributed $509,250 to his election campaigns since 2007. Inhofe is probably the most well-known opponent of climate-change science in the world.
Now, U.S. Rep. James Lankford has held a supposed government hearing with two fellow Republican lawmakers, local energy company representatives and other local Republican politicians at the University of Central Oklahoma in which new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and other federal rules were criticized as detrimental to business.
In other words, the bottom line is the bottom line for energy companies, such as Devon, OG&E and Triad, all of which were represented at the Friday meeting. The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association was represented as well. (Note: Devon and OG&E are listed in the top five of Lankford’s recent campaign contributors.)
The problem is no one who supports the EPA and its new regulations, no one who believes pollution is a serious problem, was apparently invited to address Lankford and the two other Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
One local Sierra Club official, Whitney Pearson, was quoted this way about the so-called “hearing”: “Today's fossil-fuels love fest hosted by Rep. Lankford was hardly what we would call a hearing. Instead of standing up for Oklahoma families' health and future, Lankford and his witnesses attacked critically important clean air safeguards that will protect the future of our state and the health of our kids.”
It is ridiculously unfair, especially at a college campus, that a so-called government hearing was preconceived in its anti-scientific conclusions and that no dissenting voices were allowed to fully testify. The energy industry has a huge voice here and in Washington already through lobbyists, campaign contributions and local influence by top oil and gas executives. What Oklahomans in college or not in college really need to understand or learn is that the vast majority of the intellectual world doesn’t think like Inhofe or Lankford when it comes to energy and pollution.
The fact Lankford intentionally shut out debate or other ideas makes the substance of the hearing worthless. We get it, anyway. Oil and gas companies oppose any EPA rule that makes it harder for them to drill or any federal rule that might limit their profits. These companies exist to make money not to become stewards of the planet or make us achieve energy independence. Do we really need a government hearing to make that clear?
Meanwhile, as I’ve posted recently, the signs of global warming, caused at least partially by man-made and pollution-creating carbon emissions, are everywhere this summer. Thus, we have bogus political tripe in a faux Congressional hearing versus the growing evidence of scorching temperatures, droughts, wildfires, severe weather events, food inflation, all part of what scientists have predicted will happen as the earth warms.
For good measure, The Oklahoman weighed in on the same day with an editorial published on NewsOK.com that essentially denies global warming exists, pointing out there were also record high temperatures in the 1930s. According to the editorial:
Again, that was well before everyone was driving an SUV to work, undermining the idea that mankind is causing unprecedented changes to our environment. The evidence is scant that humans can significantly affect the climate. Proposed “remedies” would be economically devastating.
For the record, even a majority of Americans don’t think the evidence of global warming is scant or that remedies will ruin us financially, according to a new poll. The Oklahoman editorial relies on typical Republican sloganeering and fear mongering instead of empirical evidence and studies. For a more comprehensive look at climate change, check out the State of the Climate in 2011 report, which argues there is “continued evidence of long-term climate warming.”
Inhofe, Lankford, and The Oklahoman are part of a concerted effort to brainwash people into believing anything that might hamper the fossil-fuel industry here is always some type of sinister left-wing conspiracy. Their arguments, weighed against scientific evidence and reports, are hollow, and it’s unfair and detrimental to Oklahoma students and residents that they get a lopsided view of issues related to the environment.