Michael Shellenberger: I Was Invited to Testify on Energy Policy. Then Democrats Didn’t Let Me Speak

  • Date: 29/07/20
  • Michael Shellenberger, Quilette

Today, shortly after giving expert testimony to Congress about energy policy, I had the startling experience of being smeared by sitting members of the United States House of Representatives.

The context was a special House Committee hearing to evaluate a Democratic proposal similar to the one proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, which would spend $2 trillion over four years on renewables and other climate programs.

Congressional interest in my testimony stems in part from the fact that I advocated for a Democratic energy proposal very similar to Biden’s between 2002 and 2009. Back then, the Obama administration justified the $90 billion it was spending on renewables as an economic stimulus, just as Biden’s campaign is doing today.

But then, late in the hearing, Representatives Sean Casten of Illinois and Jared Huffman of California, both Democrats, used the whole of their allotted time to claim that I am not a real environmentalist, that I am not a qualified expert, and that I am motivated by money.

Had I been given a chance to respond, I would have noted that: I have been a climate activist for 20 years; my new book, Apocalypse Never, has received strong praise from leading environmental scientists and scholars; the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently invited me to serve as an expert reviewer; and that I have always been financially independent of industry interests.

But I wasn’t given the chance to say any of that. After Casten and Huffman lied about me, Rep. Garret Graves asked the committee’s chairperson, Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida, to let me respond. She refused and abruptly ended the hearing.

What, exactly, had I said that was so dangerous as to lead Democrats to engage in character assassination and undermine liberal democratic norms? Nothing I hadn’t already said last January when I testified before Congress about climate change and energy.

Back then, I testified that climate change is real but isn’t the end of the world nor even our most important environmental problem. I pointed to the inherent physical reasons renewables can’t power a high energy industrial civilization. And I noted that cheap and abundant natural gas and nuclear, not industrial solar and wind, have been the big drivers of emissions reductions.

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