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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez apologizes after Rep. Higgins calls witness “boo”

It was a House Oversight Committee hearing meant to examine how fossil fuel companies campaigned to stymie climate action. But Thursday’s debate took a turn after a contentious exchange between Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) and a witness prompted another lawmaker to apologize in a moment that made waves on social media.

What eventually became a shouting match with phrases such as “boo” and “young lady” being tossed, started with a question about petrochemicals. Higgins — who calls fossil fuels “the lifeblood of our modern society” — asked Raya Salter, the founder of the Energy Justice Law and Policy Center, a public interest law firm, what her plan was to deal with the abundance of products that are made with chemical compounds derived from fossil fuels.

“Everything you have. Your clothes, your glasses, the 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. What would you do with that? Tell the world!” Higgins told Salter, who is also a member of the New York State Climate Action Council, a state government-affiliated environmental body.

Salter responded by saying, “If I had that power, actually I don’t need that power because what I would do is ask you, sir, from Louisiana … ” before Higgins interrupted.

The next two and a half minutes were marked by a tense back-and-forth in which Higgins and Salter attempted to speak over each other.

Salter asked Higgins to “search your heart and ask your God what you’re doing to the Black and poor people in Louisiana,” who she said were some of the most impacted by the pollutants released by petrochemical plants.

The Republican lawmaker responded by saying, “My good lady, I’m trying to give you the floor, boo,” and asking, “Okay, but what would you do?”

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“You’ve got no answer do you, young lady? About what to do with petrochemical products? So move on,” Higgins continued.

“We need to move away from petrochemicals, we need to shut down the petrochemical facilities in your state and move away from plastic,” Salter replied.

Louisiana produces more natural gas than all but two states nationwide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state’s 16 oil refineries, which are able to process some 3.2 million barrels of crude oil a day, make up about 20 percent of the country’s refining capacity. Much of that infrastructure is concentrated along Louisiana’s Gulf of Mexico-facing southern region — which forms part of the district Higgins represents.

Higgins noted that the liquefied natural gas projects in his district help reduce carbon emissions. LNG has been hailed as a transitional source of energy in the move toward carbon neutrality, and amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Biden administration is ramping up natural gas deliveries to Europe in hope of controlling the…

Read More: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez apologizes after Rep. Higgins calls witness “boo”

2022-09-16 04:38:29

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