How Republicans Are ‘Weaponizing’ Public Office Against Climate Action

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Nearly two dozen Republican state treasurers around the country are working to thwart climate action on state and federal levels, fighting regulations that would make clear the economic risks posed by a warming world, lobbying against climate-minded nominees to key federal posts and using the tax dollars they control to punish companies that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the past year, treasurers in nearly half the United States have been coordinating tactics and talking points, meeting in private and cheering each other in public as part of a well-funded campaign to protect the fossil fuel companies that bolster their local economies.
Last week, Riley Moore, the treasurer of West Virginia, announced that several major banks — including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo — would be barred from government contracts with his state because they are reducing their investments in coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.
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Mr. Moore and the treasurers of Louisiana and Arkansas have pulled more than $700 million out of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment manager, over objections that the firm is too focused on environmental issues. At the same time, the treasurers of Utah and Idaho are pressuring the private sector to drop climate action and other causes they label as “woke.”

And treasurers from Pennsylvania, Arizona and Oklahoma joined a larger campaign to thwart the nominations of federal regulators who wanted to require that banks, funds and companies disclose the financial risks posed by a warming planet.
At the nexus of these efforts is the State Financial Officers Foundation, a little-known nonprofit organization based in Shawnee, Kan., that once focused on cybersecurity, borrowing costs and managing debt loads, among other routine issues.
Then President Biden took office, promising to speed the country’s transition away from oil, gas and coal, the burning of which is dangerously heating the planet.
The foundation began pushing Republican state treasurers, who are mostly elected officials and who are responsible for managing their state’s finances, to use their power to promote oil and gas interests and to stymie Mr. Biden’s climate agenda, records show.
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The New York Times reviewed thousands of pages of internal emails and documents obtained through public records requests by Documented, a watchdog group, that shed light on the treasurers’ efforts since January 2021.

At conferences, on weekly calls, and with a steady stream of emails, the foundation hosted representatives from the oil industry and funneled research and talking points from conservative groups to the state treasurers, who have channeled the private groups’ goals into public policy.
The Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute and the American Petroleum Institute are among the conservative groups with ties to the fossil fuel industry that have been working with the State Financial Officers Foundation and the treasurers to shape their national strategy.
Many Democratic state treasurers support efforts to combat climate change and want banks and investment firms to be clear about risks posed to returns for retirees and others. Democratic lawmakers in California and New Jersey are working on legislation that would require their state pension systems to divest from fossil fuels. But Democrats have not mounted anything like the national campaign being orchestrated by the State Financial Officers Foundation.
The Republican treasurers skirt the fact that global warming is an economic menace that is damaging industries like agriculture and causing extreme weather that devastates communities and costs taxpayers billions in recovery and rebuilding. Instead, they frame efforts to reduce emissions as a threat to employment and revenue, and have turned climate science into another front in the culture wars.
“This is a departure from their traditional roles,” said Robert Butkin, the former Oklahoma treasurer and a professor at the University of Tulsa. “There used to be a strong nonpartisan and bipartisan ethic among treasurers, but you’ve seen a lot of that erode over the past several years.”


In November, as major banks and corporations at a global summit in Glasgow were promising to take climate action, the Republican state treasurers were huddling at a State Financial Officers Foundation conference in Orlando, Fla., talking about ways to stop them.


At the meeting, the group’s chief executive, Derek Kreifels, made a presentation about a new law that had been signed by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican. It prohibited state agencies from investing in businesses that have cut ties with fossil fuel companies.

Within weeks, Mr. Moore was working with legislators in West Virginia to write a similar bill, which became law in March. While Texas officials have been slow to enforce their law, Mr. Moore was quick to put it into action.
Last week, he notified five major financial institutions — Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley — that they are barred from doing business with West Virginia because they have intentionally wound down their dealings with coal companies.
“If a bank, for instance, decides to say they have a no-lending policy as relates to thermal coal, well, then we’ll find a bank that doesn’t have that policy,” Mr. Moore said in an interview.
Mr. Moore went on to offer a classic denial of the overwhelming scientific consensus that the continued burning of oil, gas and coal will lead to planetary catastrophe.
“The climate has been changing in the world since Earth was created,” Mr. Moore said. “Whether these greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to the warming of the globe, I’m not sure I necessarily agree with that.”
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The banks targeted by Mr. Moore say they are not boycotting the fossil fuel industry. All of them still do substantial business with oil and gas companies, but in the long run, they say, moving away from fossil fuels makes economic sense. West Virginia, for example, is the second-largest coal-producing state in the country, but production has declined significantly during the past two decades.

“He’s trying to counter pressure that’s coming from progressives on the left,” said Loren Allen, general counsel of the West Virginia Bankers Association, which lobbied against the new law celebrated by Mr. Moore. “Our banks are tied up in the center of a battle that no one can really win.”
Mr. Kreifels declined an interview but said in a statement that concerns over issues like climate change were “putting politics over profits, and likely reducing shareholder value.”
Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma have passed similar laws this year. “Kentucky joins our growing coalition of states that have taken concrete steps to push back against the woke capitalists who are trying to destroy our energy industries,” Mr. Moore said in a news release praising the moves by the states.
Republican lawmakers in more than a dozen other states, including New York, Oregon and Virginia, are trying to advance similar legislation.

 

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
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Meanwhile....back on Earth:

Extreme heatwaves: surprising lessons from the record warmth​

Unprecedented temperatures are coming faster and more furiously than researchers expected, raising questions about what to anticipate in the future.

Climate scientists have long warned that heatwaves will strike more frequently and with higher temperatures as the world warms. But the future has arrived faster than researchers had feared, particularly in Western Europe, which is a hotspot for heatwaves, according to research published last month1. These aren’t just more and more-powerful heatwaves — they are record-shattering heatwaves that have defied expectations derived from climate models.
Researchers are now scrambling to dissect the details of this year’s heatwaves, to better understand how extreme heat will affect society going forwards.
Yet ANOTHER example of climatologists and their models UNDER-estimating how rapid and drastic the warming is...

 
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