Environmentalist Lisa McCormick says Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. backs bad legislation

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (front right) speaks to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (front left) in the House Chamber as Rep. Tom Kean Jr sits in the row behind them

Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. boasted that the House passed the Lower Energy Costs Act, which was intended to frame energy policy as the top priority for Republicans when they introduced the package as H.R. 1, but environmentalist Lisa McCormick says the legislation is a coordinated attack on public lands and climate progress, packed with measures that will shut out public input.

“Toxic mining, fast-tracked fossil fuel projects and horrible Trump-era climate policies are nothing but trouble and by embracing this scheme, Tom Kean Jr. is placing himself squarely in favor of the ideas championed by the dumbest and most dangerous Republican extremists,” said McCormick. “This package of anti-climate, anti-public lands legislation, is certainly backed by loads of dirty money because Kean is part of a corrupt system of government that requires congressmen to beg billionaires for money.”

Republican Tom Kean, Jr and Democrat Lisa McCormick

The bill includes repeals to several provisions of last year’s climate-focused Inflation Reduction Act, including a fee on methane emissions. McCormick challenged Kean to explain why he would want to encourage methane emissions.

“Is this a declaration that Tom Kean, Jr. does not believe in global warming? Is he disputing the conclusions made by the smartest people in the world, who issued a red flag warming on a looming climate disaster?” asked McCormick, who noted that the March 20 installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), details the devastating consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions around the world —including the destruction of homes, the loss of livelihoods and the fragmentation of communities— plus other increasingly dangerous and irreversible risks.

An eight-year long undertaking from the world’s most authoritative scientific body on climate change, drawing on the findings of 234 scientists on the physical science of climate change, 270 scientists on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change, and 278 scientists on climate change mitigation, this IPCC synthesis report provides the most comprehensive, best available scientific assessment of climate change.

It makes for grim reading. Across nearly 8,000 pages, the AR6 details the devastating consequences of rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions around the world — the destruction of homes, the loss of livelihoods and the fragmentation of communities, for example — as well as the increasingly dangerous and irreversible risks should we fail to change course.

“While the Republican bill is unlikely to be enacted into law, it does lay out the GOP’s vision for the country’s energy policies and its most important message is that they intend to waste the few years remaining in our race to save the planet,” said McCormick. “While the window to address the climate crisis is rapidly closing, the IPCC affirms that we can still secure a safe, livable future.”

To avoid the most dangerous impacts, scientists determined that warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, but we are already more than two-thirds of the way there.

“The Republican bill contains provisions aimed at boosting the production of oil and gas, which are the elements that are causing global warming,” said McCormick. “We have had 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F) of global temperature rise, resulting in unparalleled changes that are occurring in every region of the world, from rising sea levels to more extreme weather events to rapidly disappearing sea ice.”

“New Jersey just experienced seven tornadoes, but Kean and his pals in Congress want to make it worse,” said McCormick, who acknowledged that the bill has no chance of being approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate or President Joe Biden.

Massive flooding struck Somerville after heavy rain from Tropical Storm Ida pounded northern and central New Jersey, but Congressman Tom Kean, Jr. is inviting worse climate disasters by endorsing energy legislation that is a priority for Republican extremists in Washington DC.

“Adverse climate impacts are already more far-reaching and extreme than anticipated,” said McCormick. “Climate impacts on people and ecosystems are more widespread and severe than expected, and future risks will escalate rapidly with every fraction of a degree of warming. So why is Tom Kean advocating more natural disasters?”

The decade between 2010 and 2019 was hotter than any other decade in the previous 1,300 years. Increased temperatures bring more frequent and more intense weather-related disasters. 

For public lands, it requires the Interior Department to hold at least four annual sales per state in at least nine states for oil and gas drilling rights. McCormick has criticized Biden for approving four times as many oil and gas leases as the Trump administration.

“On the heels of the Biden administration assent for the Willow project—ConocoPhillips’ carbon bomb in Alaska—congressional Republicans are trying to raise the stakes on planetary destruction,” said McCormick. “These politicians should not be rewarded for destroying our economy, destroying our ecosystem, and destroying our country.”

Kean’s Republican energy legislation would reduce the royalty rate that offshore drilling companies must pay the government from at least 16.67 percent down to 12.5 percent, so McCormick asked the Congressman to explain why planet-killing corporations deserve more taxpayer funded subsidies instead of applying this revenue to the $32 trillion national debt.

It would also require the Interior Department to release its next five-year plan for offshore oil leasing by no later than July 1.

The legislation would seek to limit the president’s authority to block cross border energy projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, an expansion to TC Energy’s original pipeline system, which has leaked more than a dozen times since it first went into operation in 2010.

One incident in North Dakota sent a 60-foot, 21,000-gallon geyser of tar sands oil spewing into the air. Less than two years before the project was finally stopped, the Keystone tar sands pipeline was temporarily shut down after a spill in North Dakota of reportedly more than 378,000 gallons in late October 2019

Instead, the GOP measure would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Energy Department jurisdiction over the approval of cross-border pipelines and electricity transmission, respectively. And it would get rid of state authority to block projects like pipelines or gas export terminals that run through their waters.

It would also bar any kind of pause on fracking, an oil and gas extraction method that has become controversial for its potential health and environmental effects, including being linked to increased childhood cancer rates.

Climate disasters like the Fairview Fire in California are growing more common as human activity exacerbates global warming.

The bill also seeks to make it easier to sell U.S. liquified natural gas abroad by getting rid of the need for Energy Department approval for export applications for countries where the U.S. doesn’t have a free trade agreement.

The bill contains provisions aimed at speeding up the nation’s approval process for permits for projects that could lock in economic commitments to build more fossil fuel infrastructure, which will promote deadly global warming.

It would set two-year time limits for conducting a more-stringent type of environmental review known as an environmental impact statement for major projects. These reviews would also be limited to 150 pages, except for extraordinarily complex projects, where the reviews would have a 300-page maximum.

Less-stringent reviews, known as environmental assessments, would be limited to one year and 75 pages. 

2020 White House review found that the average environmental impact statement was 575 pages, while the median was 397, but as environmentalist Lisa McCormick pointed out, the scientific consequences of energy development in sensitive ecosystems is not necessarily simple.

“The idea that an issue is complicated does not mean we should rush headlong into destructive development,” said McCormick. “Would Congressman Kean agree to let drivers travel on the Garden State Parkway or Route 287 at 90 miles per hour, because the 55 mph speed limit is slower? While sometimes, it is true that ‘less is more’ there are other times when complexity and detail are needed to save lives.”

The bill would also require anyone wishing to challenge a project’s approval to do so within 120 days, leaving the possibility to affected parties would be too late.

The bill gets rid of several programs that were passed last year as part of Democrats’ climate, tax and health care legislation. 

One such program aims to reduce planet-warming methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by both providing grants and loans to help companies cut emissions and also issuing fines on excess emissions. 

H.R. 1 would also cut funds given to the EPA that would seek to spur funding for climate-friendly projects, especially in disadvantaged communities. 

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