Tag Archives: decoupling

Will the 118th Congress See A Green Right Coalition?

Yesterday’s post about Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on China belongs to one strand of a larger story that’s coming into focus.  It’s a story about China and human rights, to be sure, but also about what role human rights issues will play in the transition to renewables and in the politics of the transition.

House Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee have already cited reports of human rights abuses in China and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (where Chinese companies control cobalt mining operations) as an argument for boosting extraction of critical minerals here in the US. As the gavel passes in the coming year, their position is likely to attract even more support.

In fact, the 118th Congress could see the emergence of a Green Right coalition: hawkish on China, touting the magic of markets, openly hostile to the administrative state, and more interested in achieving energy dominance (to borrow a phrase from the Trump years) than in paying lip service to a just transition (as some Democrats do).  The incoming Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, plans to “outcompete China on climate:” that phrase sums up a whole political and geopolitical agenda. 

The program could be a political winner: anti-China, pro-growth, industry-captured climate policy may accelerate organized labor’s rightward drift; and the Green Right may even enjoy an uneasy honeymoon period with more left-leaning advocates of permitting reform.

Over the past year or so, as Joe Manchin tried but failed to advance his permitting deal, reformers have shown themselves ready to take an axe to environmental law, they have regularly dismissed public opposition as NIMBY whining, and some of them have done more public advocacy for extractive industry than seasoned lobbyists and flacks could ever dream of doing. 

Pelosi on the Moral Authority to Talk about Human Rights in China, or Anyplace

Asked this morning about Republican plans to create a Select Committee on China in the coming year, Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted that there is already a bipartisan, bi-cameral committee on China and made this “statement” about human rights.

Corporate America has [been] largely responsible for the situation we’re in, in terms of the trade deficit and the rest…but from a standpoint of values, from the standpoint of economy, and from the standpoint of security, China poses a challenge to us….We want to work together on climate issues and the rest, but, but we cannot have our workers disadvantaged by China having prison labor manufacture products or contribute to the manufacture of products that just provide unfair competition for us….My statement is that if we refuse to talk about human rights in China because of economic issues, we lose all moral authority to talk about human rights anyplace in the world.

Predictably enough, the press conference moved on quickly from there. A follow-up question on legislation to ban TikTok failed to elicit anything more on US economic interests and human rights in China. Here’s video of the moment: