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The future will be green or not at all

“There have been calls for a moratorium on the approval and construction of new natural gas pipeline projects and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Congressman Bill Johnson wrote in a May 1st Facebook post.

“As a result, I – along with a bipartisan group of four colleagues – signed on to a letter strongly urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to continue processing, reviewing, and accepting projects in a manner consistent with regular business, as COVID-19 health and safety guidelines allow. American prosperity and energy security are closely linked, and that is why the energy sector is so critical to our current response and will be key driver of our recovery. The maintenance and development of critical energy infrastructure – such as natural gas pipelines and liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities – is vital to the nation’s safety, prosperity and well-being. A moratorium would be unnecessary and detrimental to our economic recovery.”

I can’t help but wonder whether Johnson is far more concerned with his own prosperity and well-being than that of our nation. Having received over $600,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry over the course of his political career, his presence in congress appears to hinge upon his catering to the whims of his corporate owners.

Examining his list of donors during the current election cycle, available via OpenSecrets.org, a prominent name stood out to me- that of Koch Industries.

According to a 2012 article from ThinkProgress.org, Johnson was one of several Republicans to sign onto an anti-climate protection pledge from the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which “opposes any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” The group was founded in 2004 by the Koch Brothers.

Johnson’s continued catering to the fossil fuel industry, however unsurprising, is a disgrace. If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the system we now have in place is an extremely volatile one.

We’ve seen oil prices plunge into the negative dollar amount for the first time in history, at the precise moment when scientists tell us we have approximately a decade to address the crisis of climate change – which will, by all accounts, dwarf the current pandemic by comparison. We need a green recovery, and we need it now.

Congressman Johnson constantly rallies against government spending and extols the economic virtues of the oil and gas industry, conveniently overlooking reports such as one published in 2019 by the International Monetary Fund, noting that fossil fuels are globally subsidized to the tune of $5,000,000,000,000 per year. Or reports that the costs of climate change could amount to $8 trillion by 2050, to say nothing of the toll in human lives. Or that trying to fight climate change now, rather than later, could save the U.S. a whopping $20 trillion by the end of the century.

In the words of Australian politician and environmentalist Bob Brown, “The future will either be green or not at all.” It seems that even in a time of unprecedented crisis, men like Congressman Johnson are hell-bent on guaranteeing us the latter fate.

Aaron Dunbar

Lowell

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