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Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

It’s an open secret in environmental circles that Michael Bloomberg is a climate change con man, and organizations like the Sierra Club that take hundreds of millions in donations from the former New York City mayor to fight coal, are complicit in his fraudulent scheme to coopt the climate change movement for his own profit.

In Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Bloomberg pompously claimed, “We’re closing the coal-fired power plants. If we could enforce some of the rules on fracking so that they don’t release methane into the air and into the water, you’ll make a big difference. But we’re not going to get rid of fracking for a while. And we, incidentally not just natural gas. You frack oil, as well. It is a technique, and when it’s done poorly, like they’re doing in too many places where the methane gets out into the air, it is very damaging. But it’s a transition fuel…”

There’s a reason the mumbling Bloomberg has committed a portion of his fortune to fight coal while arguing that fracked gas is a “transition fuel” — he has massive investments in natural gas. A mysterious money management group called Willett Advisors, that handles Bloomberg’s riches, states they “are natural gas bulls” and “we invest a lot in the energy sector.” He’s banking on fracked gas and not renewable energy to power the US economy into the future.

“I don’t want to ban fracking (just do it safely) or stop the Keystone pipeline (the oil is coming here one way or another), and I support nuclear power.” Bloomberg writes in his book Climate of Hope. “Natural gas, when safely and responsibly extracted, has been a godsend for the environment and public health,” and that “fracking allows for the most efficient extraction of natural gas”  and that “it makes sense to frack.”

Fracking might pad his portfolio, but it makes zero environmental sense.

While the US weens itself off of coal, it’s fast becoming a natural gas powerhouse, which is no doubt making Bloomberg even wealthier.  Many coal-fired power plants in the US have been converted to natural gas and over 150 new gas plants and hundreds of miles of pipelines have been proposed across America — a dirty gas boom Bloomberg embraces and wants to expand. According to Global Energy Monitor, there are also 300+ liquid natural gas export terminals under construction in the US, totaling $927 billion in investments. And despite Bloomberg’s bold assertion, no new rules will stop methane from being released during the extraction process, and of course, there are carbon dioxide emissions along every step of the natural gas lifecycle — from drilling to transporting to burning, which releases a fair amount of CO2 as well.

It’s also well-documented that natural gas pipelines crisscrossing the country are major contributors to climate change. These pipes are leaking a lot more methane than Bloomberg and his pals at the Sierra Club would like to admit. Methane emissions are considered 84 times more potent than CO2 in the initial twenty years after being released, which means methane has a more immediate impact on our climate than burning coal. In the US, these leaks account for approximately 32 percent of the natural gas industry’s total methane pollution.

Bloomberg believes capitalism and massive interests in natural gas will save our planet. He’s dead wrong. If Democrats nominate this billionaire huckster, they’ll get what they deserve. It’s just too bad the rest of the planet will end up paying the price.

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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

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