House GOP’s Fossil Fuel Frenzy: Climate Takes a Backseat to Big Oil in Major Bills

In the latest showcase of climate negligence, House Republicans passed a vote to bar the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves. This preemptive legislation strikes at an issue that was never a concern for the Biden administration. It’s a gesture of defiance in the GOP’s ongoing cultural warfare, flaunting its commitment to maintaining the fossil fuel status quo, all while potentially contributing to environmental degradation.

In a display of solidarity, all Republicans and 29 Democrats gave a nod to this largely symbolic legislation. Though the Senate isn’t expected to take up the bill and the Biden administration stands opposed, the act is a glaring testament to the GOP’s climate priorities—or lack thereof.

The GOP’s pro-fossil fuel stance, however, is far from subtle. It’s apparent in every major move made by the Republican-controlled House over the past six months, from the debt ceiling discussions to their latest tax proposals. They’ve turned legislative action into a stage for their pro-fossil fuel narrative.

Their persistence in promoting gas stove legislation, despite the backlash and its failure to pass last week, is noteworthy. This unyielding approach has been carried out regardless of the abundance of research linking gas stoves to harmful indoor air pollution, a significant proportion of childhood asthma cases, and the broader, devastating impacts of climate change.

But it doesn’t stop at gas stoves. In the critical debt ceiling negotiations, the GOP has attempted to weave in fossil fuel benefits. As Democrats highlighted, nearly 90% of their initial debt ceiling proposal was filled with fossil fuel “freebies.”

This proposal targeted key climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Biden’s flagship climate compromise bill. It also aimed to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the foundation of our environmental laws and a crucial ally for climate advocates in the fight against climate change and for environmental justice.

Although the IRA emerged unscathed, the final deal saw cuts to NEPA and a provision to fast-track the controversial fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Just a week later, Republicans made another move against climate action, planning to repeal $216 billion in clean energy tax credits to finance their tax initiative promising significant tax cuts for the wealthy.

Their stance on fossil fuels is evident in selecting H.R. 1, the label reserved for priority legislation. Their H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, like the debt ceiling proposal, looks to roll back essential provisions of the IRA and NEPA.

It’s packed with pro-fossil fuel stipulations, like simplifying pipeline approvals and mandating government lease sales for drilling on federal lands. These features prompted figures like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to claim the bill might as well have been penned by the fossil fuel industry itself.

Even basic environmental initiatives have come under GOP fire. They’ve attacked the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) corporate investing framework, passing a fossil fuel industry-backed bill to ban ESG principles in government investment decisions and staging a hearing to demonize ESG as a conspiracy.

All of this unfolds against the backdrop of a worsening climate crisis. 2023 has already witnessed nine climate-related disasters causing $1 billion or more in damage in the U.S., potentially doubling the average annual count of billion-dollar climate disasters of the past four decades.

It’s high time we question the GOP’s unrelenting commitment to propping up an industry contributing to an impending climate catastrophe and putting the health of our planet and its people in the balance.