Rep. Lauren Boebert, the gun-toting, Trump-loving, riot-goading, Congresswoman from Colorado, has a new conspiratorial obsession. And she’s fixated on it rather than working to address the multiple environmental crises facing her state.
E&E News reported that Boebert joined fellow Republican extremists Rep. Bruce Westerman and Rep. Paul Gosar in sending a letter Thursday complaining about Elizabeth Klein, the senior counselor to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. The letter concerns Klein’s previous role at New York University’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, which placed legal fellows at state attorneys general’s offices to help work on climate litigation. Several right-wing outlets, including the oil-and-gas-funded Western Wire, have been worrying at this issue for years, accusing Michael Bloomberg, via his donations to NYU, of footing the bill to attack poor, defenseless oil and gas companies. In the letter, Boebert, Gosar, and Westerman demand to see copies of Klein’s ethics pledge and memo on her possible conflicts (which all federal staffers are required to sign and submit), as well as other documents.
Boebert’s timing on all of this and her obsession with Klein is weirdly belated. Klein was actually tapped earlier this year by the Biden administration to serve as deputy secretary of the Interior Department. But centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who both have deep-seated fossil fuel interests in their states, expressed discomfort with Klein’s nomination. Their opposition, as the Washington Post reported in March, seemed to be having too many people in Interior leadership such as Secretary Haaland committed to addressing climate change. Accordingly, the Biden administration dropped Klein’s nomination and proposed a more oil-friendly option; Klein was appointed to a lower position in Interior.
That should have been that. But Boebert, who seems eager to invent the idea of a Big Corrupt Green Left rather than acknowledging that our planet is falling apart in front of our eyes, simply won’t let it go. At a public hearing on the West’s dire drought conditions in late May, Boebert showed that she’d rather score points with Breitbart readers than actually help her constituents on the precipice of a disastrous climate crisis.
Nearly the entirety of Boebert’s district is in drought, including large portions in the most severe form of drought included in the Drought Monitor’s scale. The West as a whole is mired in its worst drought in at least 1,200 years, and the Colorado River and reservoirs it feeds that serve the water needs of millions are in dire straits.
After Klein’s testimony, which mostly covered the scientific facts of the water shitstorm the West is in right now, Boebert used her five minutes of questioning to badger Klein about her ethics obligations, including accusing her of “help[ing] infiltrate state governments with Green New Deal extremists for the sole purposes of suing the federal government on environmental policies you all disagreed with.” Boebert was chastised by the hearing’s chairman, Rep. Jared Huffman, for not sticking to the issue (you know, the catastrophic drought that we all need to figure out a way to deal with), but she nevertheless used her closing arguments to accuse Klein of “slither[ing] her way into a high-level position at the department that doesn’t require the scrutiny of a public confirmation process” while calling her an “extremist partisan hack,” which is honestly pretty incredible coming from Boebert.
Lots of Boebert’s claims about Klein are echoed in an anonymous attack webpage launched on March 23, a day after Biden said he would pull Klein’s nomination. The page details about Klein’s career are bombastic, saying she “was a key player in prosecuting President Obama’s War on Coal and advancing the radical policy goals of environmental special interests” among other claims. The picture of Klein on her attack site is identical to the one used on another anonymous webpage put up recently called Protect the Public’s Trust, which targets various environmental leaders in the Biden administration, including Haaland and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, for supposed conflicts of interest.
The irony of Boebert rattling on about conflicts of interest infiltrating government is pretty rich, given her still-unwavering support of former President Donald Trump, who essentially kept the door propped open for oil and gas players to shape environmental policy throughout his presidency. Boebert complaining about partisan hacks is also pretty wild since she has mostly used her time in Congress to tweet mind-numbingly stupid falsehoods and lies to further the culture war rather than, you know, actually legislating.
Her cosigners on Thursday’s letter also don’t have much of a foot to stand on here. Murphy Oil was Westerman’s number two campaign contributor, while Koch Industries gave $10,000 to Gosar and $30,000 to Westerman last year. The idea of painting Michael Bloomberg—who, despite the enormous amounts of money he has poured into environmental causes, was pretty universally “meh”ed by many climate activists during his campaign, and who once said the Green New Deal “[stood] no chance”—as some sort of radical is also pretty laughable.
What is true is that the West is facing a summer of wildfires, water restrictions and other impacts from the drought that will leave residents in a hard spot. Congress and the White House will almost certainly need to extend a hand to those states in some way, whether through funding adaptation measures or disaster relief. Yet extremist members of the GOP seem most interested in shitposting. Manure is good for crops, sure, but they still won’t grow without water.