During her time in the Senate, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu was perhaps the oil and gas industry’s strongest ally among the Democrats. Landrieu was elected chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2014. She supported the construction of Keystone XL, favored the export of crude oil and natural gases, voted against the regulation of greenhouse gasses, and sided with Republicans when it came to legislation to de-emulate the fossil fuel industry. The League of Conservation Voters gave her a score of just 4.2 out of 5 for environmental voting. 51%.
Landrieu, like many other former members of Congress was defeated in 2014 by Senator Bill Cassidy (R.La).Landrieu is now a corporate lobbyist. Her fossil fuel industry clients include oil exploration company APTIM, Noble Energy, which is now part Chevron, natural gas producer Venture Global LNG and the coal industry group FutureGen. As of the most recent filings from her employer, the law and government relations firm Van Ness Feldman, she is lobbying Congress on behalf of pipeline company Enterprise Products Partners on “advancing the clients application under the Deepwater Port Act for authorization to build an export terminal off the coast of Texas and export crude oil from that facility.”
As she lobbies her former colleagues for these companies, Landrieu is also meeting with reps and senators under the banner of the Climate Solutions Foundation (CSF), a group she helped to found in 2019 that says it’s about bipartisan solutions to climate change. The group’s website says it was formed out of meetings with politicians and executives with a goal of finding a bipartisan way to address climate change, and that it hosts monthly lunches and dinners that bring together members of Congress, staffers, corporate executives, and leaders of environmental organizations. Landrieu and Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican House Rep., co-chair the group. Curbelo founded Vocero in 2018 as a government affairs firm.
CSF does not appear to have endorsed specific proposals, but it’s closely tied to other fossil fuel company-funded organizations that promote an industry-backed plan that many environmental groups say is insufficient and designed to protect corporate profits against the kinds of reforms to the energy sector that are needed.
The Climate Solutions Foundation’s executive director, Alex Flint, is also the executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions, an organization formed in 2017 by a group of Republicans to promote market-oriented solutions to reducing carbon pollution. Recently, the Alliance for Market Solutions received a grant. a donation in the high six figuresExxonMobil and Dow Chemical will support its efforts to push Congress to adopt a law establishing carbon pricing plans. It claims that this would lower greenhouse gases by making companies’ emissions more expensive than buying offsets, or investing in reducing their polluting. Its board includes Marvin Odum, Shell Oil Company President, and Vicky Bailey who is an energy industry consultant and a board member at PNM Resources, a gas-burning utility company.
CSF’s website says it “supports the continued work of the House Climate Solutions Caucus and the creation of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus.” Its first public event, held in April 2021, was a Zoom discussion with the Senate caucus’ co-chairs, Sens. Chris Coons (D.Del. Mike Braun (R.Ind.). Many of the Climate Solutions Caucus’s House members have gotten behind a carbon tax bill called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which closely mirrors a proposal known as the Baker-Shultz plan that was developed by the Climate Leadership Council, a think tank whose founding members include oil and gas giants like ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. The plan, along with the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Acts would tax companies for their carbon emissions and pay the utility ratepayers as rebates. Ted Deutch, Climate Solutions Caucus Chairman (D-Fla.), presented it to the House. Coons had submitted a similar bill to the House. Climate Action Rebate Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.), whose 2019 exchange with young climate activistsHer dismissive attitude made her viral. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is so similar to the corporate-backed Baker Shultz Plan that George Shultz (ex-secretary of state in Reagan’s administration) endorsed it.
Many scientists, activists, academics, and academics feel that carbon pricing is not the right response to the climate crisis.
“Carbon pricing frames climate change as a market failure rather than as a fundamental system problem,” professors Daniel Rosenbloom, Jochen Markard, Frank W. Geels, and Lea Fuenfschilling wrote in a 2020 articlePublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. “The market failure framing fails to appreciate the broad scope of the climate challenge and the sweep of system elements that must undergo change. And so, the resulting solution orientation is far from sufficient.”
In 2017, the Indigenous Environmental Network wrote and Climate Justice Alliance wrote a 2017 pamphletCarbon pricing plans such as those promoted by Climate Solutions Caucuses are not only insufficient but also designed to divide the public. “Promises of revenue from the schemes are often used to quell resistance from impacted communities who might otherwise organize against corporate abuses,” the groups write. “Carbon tax proposals, like other schemes that promise compensatory revenues, can put impacted communities that are already in difficult situations into impossible ones.”
James Skea, co-chair of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes Working Group III, said in 2018 that a carbon tax is “‘one among that portfolio of instruments that can be used’ but could not serve as a panacea,” according to a HuffPost report. “There are some areas where carbon pricing may not be the most appropriate approach,” he said, according to the report.
Keith McCoy, a former ExxonMobil lobbyist said earlier this year that his company only supported carbon pricing because it was useful talking points. “Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans and the cynical side of me says, yeah, we kind of know that but it gives us a talking point that we can say, well what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax,” McCoy said during a staged job interview that was secretly recorded by reporters for Greenpeace UK’s journalism project Unearthed.
Landrieu recently brought a delegation including House Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) to Scotland during the United Nations’ climate change conference, according to gift travel documentsThe House has received the documents. The delegation met with representatives from companies like Amazon, Johnson Controls United Airlines, SAP and Pegasus Capital Advisors. They also attended official proceedings as well as government receptions.
Sludge asked the Climate Solutions Foundation if it accepts funding from the fossil fuel industry and how Landrieu reconciles her fossil fuel company lobbying with the aims of the foundation, but multiple inquiries sent to the group’s press contact, political fundraising consultant Helen Milby, were not returned.