A little-noticed bill that sailed through the House last week ensures America's energy future will continue to be dependent on fossil fuels, Paste Magazine's Walker Bragman reported Thursday.
H.R. 1616, which was passed out of the House on March 25, "would allocate roughly $580 million in federal funding over two years to public and private energy development projects in Europe and Eurasia, including natural gas infrastructure," explained Bragman. The bill was proposed by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ala.) and netted nine cosponsors, including four Democrats.
"This bill is yet another example of the denial of the realities of our climate crisis in practice," David Turnbull, strategic communications director for Oil Change U.S., told Common Dreams.
"While climate impacts challenge us with increasing regularity, and scientists implore us to turn our energy policy away from all fossil fuels," added Turnbull, "our elected leaders are continuing with status quo energy and foreign policies that lock in the very fuels that are driving international conflict via climate disasters every day."
Last Wednesday, @AOC's takedown of Senate Republicans over climate change went viral. But everyone missed the vote she and her Democratic colleagues cast 2 days before. Framed as a way to hurt Russia, H.R. 1616 was a handout to the fossil fuel industry. https://t.co/X8vVoV0SIg
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) April 4, 2019
By calling for an increase in exports, the legislation is ensuring the continuation of the fossil fuel industry, warned Texas climate activist Sharon Wilson.
"If you're trying to get back at Russia, help the whole world move forward with renewable energy," Wilson told Paste. "That's what people want."
The bill "clears a path for completing a transition to natural gas," said journalist Amy Westervelt.
HR 1616 purports to curb Russian energy dominance -- easy yes vote, right? But if you actually, I don't know, READ IT, it really just clears a path for completing a transition to natural gas. Which is a really fucking huge problem on the climate front. https://t.co/k67671osb6
— Amy Westervelt (@amywestervelt) April 5, 2019
The legislation sneaked past most observers and had no Democratic opposition—a troubling move from the party that's been largely defined in recent months by the popular Green New Deal—though 10 House members did abstain from the vote. The bill passed by a vote of 391 to 24, with 16 not voting.
By voting en masse for the bill, Democrats are "encouraging a kind of climate denialism," filmmaker Josh Fox told Paste.
"If Democrats are supporting bills that say fracked gas and fracked gas infrastructure should be developed in Europe then they are flying in the face of their own climate policy," said Fox.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where a version is being prepared by three Republicans and two Democrats. The bills will likely have to be reconciled, giving Democrats in the House the opportunity, perhaps, to vote the legislation down when it comes back to the lower chamber.
"Let's get it right," said Fox in a tweet Thursday.
Including #fracked gas in the Green New Deal would be a huge mistake. Let’s get it right. #banfracking in the US and in Europe!! I’m quoted extensively here: House Democrats Voted for a Natural Gas Future, and Nobody Noticed https://t.co/V6cAOfEQsJ via @pastemagazine
— Josh Fox (@joshfoxfilm) April 4, 2019
Legislation like H.R. 1616 shouldn't slip by activists and left-leaning politicians again, said Turnbull.
"This bill is a reminder that all climate leaders need to stay vigilant against industry advances, keep our climate crisis in mind in all of our governing, and be bold in standing up to the status quo that is sending us off the climate cliff," Turnbull said.