- - Monday, February 27, 2023

It’s the end of February, one of the coldest months of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Your house is freezing. You’re wrapped up in a blanket, but the cold has settled in your bones. Yes, you could turn on your heater, but you’re more afraid of the massive heating bill you would get than another night of the cold.

This is how millions of Americans live through the winter, including the elderly. A recent study found that 16% of American households experience energy poverty—even households that live above the federal poverty line. Energy is getting more and more expensive, inflation is crippling family budgets, and we may be on the brink of a major recession.

The war on affordable, reliable energy must end.

This war is being waged on two fronts—by the Biden administration, doing everything it can to throttle American energy production, and through a liberal elite investment movement called “ESG,” which stands for Environmental, Social, Governance principles. In reality these are anti-environmental and socialist governance fantasies.

The ESG movement has co-opted many of the biggest retirement, pension, and investment funds in the United States and around the world. Proponents argue that divesting from corporations that don’t meet arbitrary standards will force these businesses to change the way they operate and stop using fossil fuels, thus helping to supposedly protect the environment.

These divestment strategies are not working. Not only has ESG failed to produce the left’s desired effect, this strategy is causing real harm in the way of lower returns for investors, including millions of Americans whose retirement savings are being used as ESG pawns.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: ESG Investments: Prudent or Perilously Political?

ESG is not protecting the environment. No country in the world has reduced carbon emissions more than the United States. Since peaking in 2007, carbon and methane emissions have fallen year after year in the United States. We are now at early-1990s emissions levels despite having a larger population thanks to inexpensive, abundant natural gas.

Further, when the oil and gas industry suffers in the United States, it hurts other businesses. For example, every farmer and rancher ends up paying more to get food to market. As such, a war on American energy not only means Americans are paying more to fill up their gas tanks, they are also paying a lot more to put food on the table.

But the harm is also global. When the U.S. produces less fuel, we are not able to export as much energy to our allies, which means foreign countries like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela swoop in and fill the void. Their emissions can be up to six times greater than those in the United States to produce the same amount of energy, which means ESG is actually imposing a negative cost on the environment.

So what can be done about this?

Over the next two years, I will have the privilege of serving as the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over industries comprising nearly half of the United States economy. My intention as incoming Ranking Member is to be vigorous on oversight and in trying to drive through legislation on issues that matter—including to challenge ESG policies that are hammering jobs, hurting American families, and harming the American energy industry.

The priorities at the heart of ESG are not only unrealistic, they benefit the privileged few at the expense of hard-working Americans. Terrence Keeley, a former executive at BlackRock, the largest investment firm in the world and a huge proponent of ESG, has admitted that ESG is “failing” and “[d]espite tens of trillions of ESG investments, investors haven’t done very well nor generated much good.”

ESG’s attack on affordable, reliable energy is harming the people of Texas, Americans across the country, and our allies abroad. It makes their cost of living soar and empowers tyrannical regimes like China, Iran, and Venezuela.

Americans can’t afford this woke war on energy.

• Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, is the Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce Committee. He also serves on the Foreign Relations, Judiciary, and Rules & Administration Committees. Prior to the U.S. Senate, he was Texas’ Solicitor General during which time he argued nine cases before the Supreme Court.

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