Trump's Billion Dollar Big Oil Heist | Opinion

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As soon as fossil-fuel financed Donald Trump was sworn into office, he got busy destroying the nation’s climate progress. In June 2017, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Treaty, shamefully walking away from a global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the only signatory country in the world to do so.

Among Trump’s early steps to halt climate progress, Scott Pruitt, his Environmental Protection Agency director, scrubbed climate science information off the U.S. agency’s website. Pruitt, who resigned under an unethical cloud of scandal the following year, erased scientific explanations about the changing climate from the EPA’s website. His “cleansing” efforts included erasure of the agency’s scientific web pages about fossil fuels and carbon emissions, web pages that had been educating the public on climate science since the late 1990s.

Going into the 2024 election, Trump is warring with climate science again. Even as global temperatures hover at a precarious tipping point endangering habitability, Trump has solicited a billion-dollar contribution from fossil fuel execs in exchange for letting the planet burn baby burn.

Trump’s lowly $1 billion price tag on the climate

At a shockingly under-reported event in April, the presumptive Republican nominee invited fossil fuel representatives to dine with him at Mar-a-Lago, where he served up a foul-tasting entrée of quid pro quo. More than 20 oil executives from Chevron, Exxon, Occidental Petroleum and other fossil fuel concerns attended. Over a steak dinner, Trump offered attendees $110bn in tax breaks, and said he’d reverse Biden’s environmental protections, if they agreed to donate a billion dollars to his campaign to pay his legal bills put him back in the White House.

In exchange for the cool billion, Trump pledged to scrap President Joe Biden’s policies on electric vehicles and wind energy and other initiatives opposed by the fossil fuel industry, including legal barriers to drilling and the Biden administration’s rules designed to cut car pollution.

Trump said it was a good “deal.” Ponying up $1 billion to get Trump re-elected would be advantageous for Big Oil, Trump promised, because the value of the tax and regulation cuts he’d give them in return would far exceed that amount.

Trump advances Big Oil’s disinformation campaign

Climate disinformation from the fossil fuel lobby is legion, and has gone on for decades. American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers has already begun an extremely well-financed campaign against Biden’s EPA’s tailpipe rules, misleading consumers and voters by calling the rules a “ban” on “gas cars.” The lobby has purchased ads in battleground states to lie to voters about Biden’s efforts to increase the manufacture of EVs, claiming that increasing EVs and adopting the charging station infrastructure to support them will restrict consumer choice. 

Their disinformation efforts are obscene because their profits are obscene. Last year, ExxonMobil and Chevron reported their biggest annual profits in a decade. Three of the largest oil and gas producers reported combined profits of $85.6 billion in 2023. ExxonMobil reported $36 billion, while Chevron reported $21.4 billion. Shell’s reported profits were down from 2022, but still reflected the second-largest profits in a decade.

A tale of two countries

Biden refers to global warming as an “existential threat” and has engaged in over 300 actions aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air pollution, to restrict toxic chemicals, and preserve public lands and waters. Although these policies will take years to deliver climate results, by one early assessment, they have already resulted in a 3% cut in energy emissions.

Trump, amplifying Big Oil’s decades-long disinformation campaign in exchange for money, has called climate change a “hoax.” At his New Jersey rally last week, Trump vowed to stop offshore wind “on day one.” He has claimed without evidence that wind energy causes cancer, and that he knows “windmills very much,” because he has “studied it better than anybody I know.” Demonstrating the principles of Darwinism, Trump eliminated more than 125 environmental rules and policies during his time in office and is now promising more destruction.  

Whether Trump or Biden is elected in November, both men are elderly. That means they will be gone, relegated to history, by the time bees stop pollinating.

The choice is before us. One of these candidates promises his grandchildren will eat from a golden plate. The other promises there will be something on the plate.  

Sabrina Haake is a columnist and 25 year litigator specializing in 1st and 14th Amendment defense. Her Substack, The Haake, is free. 


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