Gerard is referring to legislation being crafted by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would be the first piece of comprehensive legislation passed to address climate change in the United States. The legislation would specifically target carbon emissions by the energy industry, placing a higher price on the companies for the pollution they emit. They are hoping to bring the bill to a vote on the Senate floor this summer.
But Gerard, with backing from the entire oil and gas industry, will not let that happen on his watch, and has vowed that this legislation will never see the light of day in the Senate. And according to Gerard, its completely pointless, as the United States already does more than any other country when it comes to addressing climate change and reducing carbon emissions.
Unfortunately for Gerard, his assertion that the U.S. is the global leader in addressing climate change is way off the mark. In fact, the entire continent of North America is trailing the rest of the planet when it comes to both addressing climate change and excessive carbon emissions, as well as developing alternative fuel sources.
Gerard’s group, The American Petroleum Institute, spends millions of dollars every year lobbying members of Congress to prevent tighter standards from being imposed on the industry. And Gerard is the industry’s top bidder when it comes to buying off politicians. In fact, Gerard has even made the statement publicly that his ultimate goal is to have an oil lobbyist strategically placed in every single congressional district in the country.
DeSmogBlog has more on Gerard’s role at the API:
As API president, Mr. Gerard is the leading representative for more than 400 different oil and gas companies. Gerard took the helm of API in November 2008, leaving a lucrative post as the head of the American Chemistry Council. In the short time that Gerard has led the API, he has instituted numerous reforms to help the oil industry focus its messaging to change public attitudes towards the industry’s behavior. One of the major tools that Gerard brings to the API is the use of astroturf “grassroots” operations, something that the oil industry had not yet capitalized on.
The American Petroleum Institute wields a lot of power in Washington, and if Jack Gerard says that a bill won’t see the light of day, he means it. And since Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to throw his support behind Boxer and Sanders’ legislation, it is incredibly likely that Gerard will have more sway over the votes than the Democrats.
Farron Cousins is the Executive Editor of The Trial Lawyer Magazine, a contributing writer for DeSmogBlog, and the producer of Ring of Fire.