It’s April 2nd. So you know that what we print here today isn’t a joke.
But after reading the latest energy action plan from House Republicans over the weekend, I wish I could tell you that I’m making up their latest strategy.
Last May, Think Progress reported on the creation of a House Energy Action Team (HEAT), a group of more than two dozen House Republicans pushing an “all of the above” approach to energy. But it should really be called an “all of the below” strategy — as it focuses exclusively on carbon-based fuels buried in the ground.
HEAT has just released its latest messaging plan for House Republicans to use while working in their districts on recess this summer. It’s no surprise that the plan calls for greater domestic use of fossil fuels. But the document reveals just how disconnected Washington politicians are from what scientists are telling us about global warming.
Or, as David Roberts of Grist so eloquently put it last week:
In a sane world, a 2011 filled with spectacularly bizarre weather followed by a winter and spring that are record-shatteringly hot – out of control hot; Biblical hot – would have everyone in the U.S. freaking the f*ck out about climate change.
But the HEAT work plan has absolutely nothing on efficiency, nothing on conservation, and only one token mention of renewable alternatives to fossil fuels. All common-sense talking points on clean energy have disappeared from Republican messaging on energy issues.
The only resources touted in the plan are coal, natural gas, oil, oil shale and methane hydrates. It’s basically a “how to” guide for warming the planet.
(Insert your own joke here about the group’s ironic acronym, HEAT).
The plan, which includes talking points and media strategies on how to talk about energy issues, is couched in consumer-friendly terms to make it seem less preposterous:
We owe it to future generations of Americans to continue to stand as a leader in the global economy, no longer subject to the whims of other oil producing nations, and that’s why we’ll continue fighting for an energy policy that will achieve these goals.
But there’s one major problem. To anyone who’s not thinking about global warming, this may seem reasonable on the surface. Why wouldn’t we want to exploit new innovations in unconventional fossil fuels to become more independent?
Well, at a time when scientists say we are reaching irreversible global warming tipping points, it’s beyond absurd that anyone would propose it: This energy strategy is reckless. Unfortunately, with most politicians silent on global warming, energy plans like this can all too easily become a real part of the debate.
Democratic strategists believe they can win the rhetorical battle over gas prices by focusing on oil company profits and the financial link between Congress and the fossil fuel industry. That may work for short-term political messaging. But it still does not bring global warming into the energy conversation — thus making plans like HEAT seem less threatening than they are.
This is one more reason why leading politicians must stand up for climate science. Ultimately, that’s the only common-sense way to neutralize the “drill-everywhere-exploit-everything” energy mantra.