With little notice from environmental groups, Maine Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden shamefully joined a 391-24 vote on H.R. 1616, which would seek to export America’s growing addiction to natural gas to Europe.

Couched in ever-present Russia hysteria dressed up in foreign policy speak, the bill claims to target dependence on Russian fossil fuels. If it accomplished this with 100 percent renewable and no-/low-carbon methods, one might call the bill justified. However, it is far from justified.

Put simply, this willing madness further erodes our chances of a decent human survival and for our children to not live in fearful desperation.

The seemingly banal bill, introduced by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ala., seeks among its goals to expand natural gas technology and infrastructure to Europe. One such mechanism is to “enhance Europe’s and Eurasia’s regulatory environment,” as well as the allocation of $580 million in federal funds in private-public ventures. This all under the guise of curbing the influence of Russia – a country with decimated GDP, a weak military compared to that of the U.S. and at least understandable geopolitical interests in Eurasia.

This is noteworthy because modern practices of fracking make natural gas (methane) extraction and transport one of the dirtiest fossil fuels in practice. It is patently absurd to rely on industry PR that fossil fuel is a “bridge” fuel, given the foreboding of the most recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a relatively conservative scientific body.

In addition, France, Germany, Bulgaria and Ireland have banned fracked gas outright, while the Netherlands has paused it until 2020. Given Europe’s relative and justified anti-fracking posture, one has to wonder precisely what “enhancing” regulation entails.

In a world where venture capitalists plan survival bunkers, one has to wonder how much of this is pessimism and how much delusion that climate change will spare the children of the well-to-do.

Jai Kang


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