In Stunning Reversal, Senate Republicans Agree to End Big Oil Subsidies After Watching Polar Bear Film

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In Stunning Reversal, Senate Republicans Agree to End Big Oil Subsidies After Watching Polar Bear Film

"I'm calling on all Americans, Democrats and Republicans, to take a stand to defend the Arctic from future oil and gas drilling. If we're going to subsidize any energy, it must be clean, renewable and respect the environment." -- Senator Mitch McConnell
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How the polar bears of "To the Arctic" got Senate Republicans to change their minds about #oil drilling: http://bit.ly/HUy6tj @Justmeans
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 2:00pm

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In an stunning reversal, Senate Republicans have accepted President Obama's call to end tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, reversing a procedural vote on Thursday that had killed the Mendendez Bill (S. 2204 - Repeal Subsidies and Tax Breaks for the Big 5 Oil Companies), introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)[1]. On Thursday, the bill was defeated by a vote of 51-47, nine votes short of the 60 required to pass.

But in a rare Saturday afternoon session called by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the measure was swiftly rejuvenated—and passed—after nine of the Republicans who voted against the bill on Thursday had a change of heart after watching a sneak preview on Friday of To the Arctic, a documentary that follows the life of a mother polar bear caring for her two seven-month-old cubs in the Arctic. Narrated by three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep,To the Arctic arrives in IMAX theaters on April 20.[2]

The surprise passage of the bill puts the Senate more in line with a majority of the American people when it comes to big oil. A CNN/ORC poll taken last week found that 55 percent of Americans believe that oil companies deserve "a great deal of blame" for the recent increase in gas prices.[3] The majority of Congressional Republicans have consistently voted against ending fossil fuel subsidies, which is unsurprising, considering that many Republican lawmakers receive contributions from and invest in the oil and gas industry. But with Saturday's abrupt turnaround, that is likely to change as well.

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Reynard is a Justmeans staff writer for Sustainable Finance and Corporate Social Responsibility. A former media executive with 15 years experience in the private and non-profit sectors, Reynard is the co-founder of MomenTech, a New York-based experimental production studio that explores transnational progressivism, neo-nomadism, post-humanism and futurism. He is also author of the blog 13.7 Billion Years, covering cosmology, biodiversity, animal welfare, conservation and ethical consumption. He is currently developing the Underground Desert Living Unit (UDLU), a sustainable single-family dwelling envisioned as a potential adaptation response to the future loss of human habitat due to the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Reynard is also a contributing author of "Biomes and Ecosystems," a comprehensive reference encyclopedia of the Earth's key biological and geographic classifications, to be published by Salem Press in 2013.

Keywords: Environment | Global Warming | Greenpeace | John Cornyn | Mitch McConnell | Oil And Gas Subsidies | Polar | Robert Menendez | S. 2204 | To The Arctic | WWF

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