The bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus is officially back, and it is being led by an investor in natural gas stocks.
The caucus, which has been decimated in recent years due to Republican re-election losses, was officially relaunched today with co-chairs Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.). The caucus is backed by the Climate Citizens Lobby, a nonprofit that works to encourage politicians across the political spectrum to take action to address climate change. One of its policy solutions, putting a price on carbon and issuing dividends to every American, is similar to plans supported by oil companies like ExxonMobil.
Garbarino’s website says that the congressman plans to address environmental issues with “science-based solutions that reject massive federal government takeovers, avoid excessive regulation, and respect the free market.“
Garbarino has been a co-chair of the caucus since 2020 when its former Republican co-chair Francis Rooney retired from Congress, and during that time he has disclosed making two purchases of stock in Tellurian, a liquid natural gas exploration, pipeline transport, and export company. Both purchases were for stock valued at up to $15,000 at the time of the transaction. Garbarino’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the stock purchases.
The Texas-based Tellurian has gas wells in the Haynesville Shale Basin, which spans parts of Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana, and has been rapidly increasing its total gas production in recent years. The company is hoping to develop a network of pipelines throughout Texas, and one in Louisiana to facilitate its under-construction Driftwood LNG export terminal, which the company says will be able to ship up to 27.6 million tonnes of LNG per year to customers worldwide.
In addition to his stock holdings, Garbarino has received campaign donations from oil and gas industry PACs including those affiliated with ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, and the American Gas Association. Garbarino has received at least $28,600 from the Catsimatidis family, which owns the United Refining Company and other fossil fuel assets.
Houlahan does not own oil and gas company stocks, but in September she received a contribution of $1,000 from the PAC of Tellurian. The third-term representative’s top career donors, according to OpenSecrets, include employees of hedge fund BlackRock, which the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition has tagged as one of the largest oil and gas investors in the world, and the largest investor in coal reserves worldwide.
The electricity and transportation sectors are the largest man-made greenhouse gas emitters, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Both sectors rely heavily on the oil and gas industry for fuel.
In an interview with E&E News, Garbarino explained his criteria for adding new caucus members. “You can’t be a climate denier and join this group,” said Garbarino, “but you have to be open to an ‘all of the above’ approach. …I don’t think anybody’s greenwashing themselves.” Garbarino has been working for the past year to add more Republican members to the caucus, and he says that new members will be added in Republican-Democrat pairs in order to keep the party parity even.
Garbarino and Houlahan told E&E News that their first plan for the revamped caucus is to inject themselves into the discussions around permitting reform legislation. That effort, pieces of which were passed in the recent bipartisan debt ceiling deal, aims to make it easier for companies to build energy infrastructure projects in large part by weakening and speeding up the environmental review process. In April, a pair of House Democrats, Sean Casten of Illinois and Mike Levin of California, released a discussion draft of a permitting reform proposal focused on increasing renewable electricity by issuing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission greater authority to approve transmission lines, boosting electricity transmission between regional grids, and developing community solar programs, among other steps.
Speaking on the EcoRight Speaks podcast last year, Garbarino said that the Climate Solutions Caucus’ supporters include ExxonMobil, AT&T, Microsoft, Exelon, Chevron, United Airlines, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.