Oil State Rep Ripped for Misogyny, Racism

September 18, 2022

Oil-soaked Louisiana Rep referred to female witness as “boo”. Wow.
Fortunately had ass handed to him by AOC shortly after.
If experience is a guide, in a year or so, we’ll read about his divorce for abuse and mental cruelty.

Emily Atkin in Heated:

Rep. Clay Higgins, a heavily-oil funded Republican representing one of the most flood-prone areas of Louisiana, decided he did not like the testimony of one of the witnesses: Raya Salterfounder and executive director of the Energy Justice Law and Policy Center. So he belittled her, interrupted her, called her little feminine pet names like “boo,” and posted a video of it on his Twitter because he thought it was awesome.

The exchange prompted Ocasio-Cortez to apologize to Salter on Higgins’s behalf. “For the gentleman from Louisiana and the comfort he felt in yelling at you like that, there’s more than one way to get a point across,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And, frankly, men who treat women like that in public, I fear how they treat women in private.”

AOC’s clawback was promptly picked up by many news outlets, including The Washington PostCNNThe New York PostThe HillHuffPost, and the U.K.’s Independent. On Twitter, the consensus was clear: This is what racism and misogyny look like.

Yes, and it’s also what fossil fuel extremism looks like. For an increasing number of folks in the heavily oil-funded GOP, fossil fuels have become akin to religion—and suggesting we move away from them is blasphemy. 

It does not matter that it’s a completely reasonable suggestion—it’s what climate scientists, the United Nationsthe International Energy Agency, and the World Economic Forum recommend—fossil fuel extremists simply cannot hear it. You dare question the miracle of life-giving petrol, you deserve whatever punishment you get, boo. 

At Thursday’s hearing, Salter was questioning the miracle. Her testimony focused on pollution from the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors—specifically, on its disproportionate harmful effect on Black and brown Americans. In Louisiana, for example, cancer rates in mostly-Black residents living near the state’s 150+ petrochemical plants are so high that international human rights groups have expressed concern.

More broadly, a Harvard study from this year found that fossil fuel air pollution is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide. And peer-reviewed research shows that people of color are exposed to more pollution than white Americans from nearly every source.

That’s not even mentioning the deadly effects of climate change, which the IPCC says can only be adequately addressed through “substantial reduction in fossil fuel use.” So, naturally, Salter’s recommendation for Congress was that the U.S. transition away from fossil fuels. 

Higgins characterized this recommendation as insane. He called it “outlandish” and “stunning” and questioned Salter’s “connection to reality.” He then demanded Salter explain, in 30 to 40 seconds, how to divest the world’s entire product chain from petrochemicals. “Everything you have—your clothes, your glasses, your car you got here on, your phone, the table you’re sitting at, the chair, the carpet under your feet—everything you’ve got is petrochemical products,” Higgins said. “What would you do with that? Tell the world.”

Salter responded by telling Higgins to “ask your God what you’re doing to the Black and poor people in Louisiana.” This sent Higgins into a frenzy. Interrupting her repeatedly, Higgins called Salter diminuitive pet names like “young lady” and “boo.” He also defended his love of fossil fuels from, appropriately, a religious perspective. “The Lord gave us dominion over the planet and the creatures thereof,” he said. “From a biblical perspective, I am an environmentalist. I love my planet and the people and the creatures thereof.”

Higgins then asserted that because Salter would not describe how to rid the world of fossil fuels in 30 to 40 seconds, her entire argument that fossil fuels were deadly and should be moved away from was discredited. 

“You got a lot of noise, but you got no answers,” he said.

To fossil fuel extremists like Higgins, information about Black and brown death is just noise. Unless you can explain in 40 seconds how to move the entire world away from fossil fuels seamlessly, you should really just shut up about the whole thing.

It’s an inherently manipulative framing. You don’t need to know how to fix a problem to care about it, especially one as complicated as the world’s fossil fuel dependence. Anyone who demands that knowledge is just looking for an excuse to continue the status quo, which in this case, is prioritizing the fossil fuel industry’s profits over people’s lives. This is an extremist position. It’s time we recognized it as such.


2 Responses to “Oil State Rep Ripped for Misogyny, Racism”

  1. Ron Benenati Says:

    AOC is a credit to the democratic party

  2. Keith Omelvena Says:

    What a prick!

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