‘If We Want to Tackle Climate Change, We Want Them to Go Bankrupt … Right?’

Yves here. I have to confess not to having paid much attention to the failed nomination of Saule Omarova for Comptroller of the Currency. And I am having trouble seeing her climate politics as having anything to do with her not winning approval.

A financial regulator has absolutely no nexus to climate policy. Of all people, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is a long-standing conservationist and has helped fund some well-publicized research on how close we are to serious climate change damage. I recall the press back in the day treating his environmental activism as a charming hobby. No one in their wildest dreams though Paulson, in a vastly more powerful position with a large bureaucracy compared to the Controller of the Currency, would use his post to advance his environmental concerns. (Paulson did a better job of walking his talk that other super rich ex Goldman partners: he did not trade up from a Manhattan two bedroom and was generally known for living modestly relative to his wealth).

It’s pretty clear the Biden Administration nominated Omarova as a fabricated concession to progressives when she was destined to fail. And it wasn’t her being an official Commie when she was growing up in Commie Kazakhstan that doomed her. One hates to say it, but stories like that (and on her remarks on climate change) are the mainstream media amplifying the Biden story line that they wanted “progressives” to internalize: “Omarova failed because she was too radical.”

Hogwash. Omarova was never never never gonna be approved because she shoplifted as an adult. You think not paying nanny taxes is the kiss of death in a nominee for a position subject to Congressional approval? Cube that for a former crook as financial regulator. Having known some light-fingered people, just about no one shoplifts once. Lord knows how many times Omarova stole and was never caught or talked her way out of it.

Of course this fatal flaw was only reported in the right wing press (and the non-right-wing Wall Street on Parade) which is presumably the soi-disant left has failed to acknowledge that Omarova never would have been approved. The Daily Mail engages in its story-telling via headline:

REVEALED: Biden’s Soviet-born comptroller of currency pick was arrested in 1995 for stealing four pairs of shoes, two bottles of cologne and socks worth $214 from T.J. Maxx: White House stands by nominee ahead of Senate grilling

In other words, Omarova was no Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed her hungry family or even self. And this happened when Omarova was an adult, not a teen going through a reckless/rulebreaking phase.

And so progressives don’t recognize Omarova’s nomination as yet another Biden/Democratic party Lucy and the football moment. There is no way a competent background check didn’t uncover this theft, which all by itself made her unconfirmable.

That does not deny the truth of Neuburger’s main point, that Biden is utterly unserious about addressing climate change. It’s just that Omarova isn’t part of that story.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at God’s Spies

Profits are soaring in the oil sector, just what we don’t want to happen

A brief note to say what you already knew and what no one else will tell you when the big bright lights are on — if climate’s your issue, Biden’s your enemy too, and he’s not a soft one.

From climate expert Brad Johnson’s new Substack site, Hill Heat (emphasis in original):

BANKRUPT POLITICS FTW: Green New Deal progressive Saule Omarova’s nomination to be Comptroller of the Currency (and thereby be one of the top banking regulators) has been tanked by a group of upper-crust corporatist Democratic senators on the Banking Committee—Mark Warner (Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)—with the support of fracker John Hickenlooper (Colo.) and Mark Kelly (Ariz.).

The big banks hated Omarova’s nomination, because she has expressed the need to actually regulate them. Even worse, she wants government officials to be in charge of any future bailouts, instead of BlackRock or Blackstone. The banks butter up the members of the Banking Committee. Republicans were happy to beat the stuffing out of “Comrade Omarova” for growing up in Soviet Kazakhstan and wanting to crimp the business of big banks, but the Democrats needed a different public excuse to go after Biden’s nominee. It turns out it was her concern for climate that helped get Democrats to dessert [sic] her.

The “gotcha” moment came from an interview in February, in which she said of fossil-fuel companies:

At least, we want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change, right?

As it turns out, if “we” includes the U.S. Senate, then the answer is “no.”

Unsurprisingly, Republicans hammered her on this quote; fossil-friendly Democrats like Tester joined in. Omarova repeatedly apologized, but the damage was done.

Earlier in the same newsletter, Johnson noted:

The Biden White House has brought on carbon capture and sequestration expert Sally Benson, of the oil-and-gas-industry-funded Stanford Energy program, to be “deputy director for energy and chief strategist for the energy transition” for the newly created Energy Division of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Benson helped Stanford get $20 million each from ExxonMobil and Shell(but only $12.5 from Total) in recent years with turkeys like this:

“Stanford innovators value the support and expertise of companies like ExxonMobil and Bank of America as we all try to help create this next era in energy.”

And then there’s this recent affront…

Biden administration reopens all oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico

…from the candidate who told you pretty words to get elected, like these from his fantasized “Plan for Climate Change” (emphasis added):

On day one, Biden will use the full authority of the executive branch to make progress and significantly reduce emissions. Biden recognizes we must go further, faster and more aggressively than ever before, by … banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters [and] modifying royalties to account for climate costs

As we’ve said many times, Biden is as destructive to the climate as Trump was. But as the Dem-friendly alternative, he gets a pass in what passes for the mainstream media.

Batten down, folks. We’re going to get help from no one but ourselves.

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  1. ambrit

    Sorry to nit pick, but, shouldn’t that be, in the last sentence of your introduction; “That does (not) deny the truth of….”?
    Tangentially, Phyl got yet another DCCC ‘begging’ letter in the mail.
    We laughed about it. Phyl wondered of perhaps the Democrat Party had ‘officially’ become an appendage to the Democrat Party Politicos’ Funds Raising Machine.
    The corruption has become shameless.
    In the article it stated that “Omarova repeatedly apologized” about an earlier quote. When you are apologizing in politics, yiou have ceded the “high ground,” and are on the way down to defeat. Apologize once and move on. then stonewall any attempts to bring the subject up again.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Sometimes you just can’t be too cynical when assessing these people.

    It does strike me though that there seems a sort of selection process goes on within the Democratic party to sort out people who are very, very effective at coming up with schemes to screw the left or real progressives, while hopelessly incompetent at everything else. A little like how evolution throws up creatures like pandas or sloths who are so over specialised that they are comically incapable of surviving anything out of the ordinary.

  3. divadab

    The Dems knew of her shoplifting history before they nominated her – a criminal record pops up even for the most brain-dead FBI background checker. So either they thought it was a minor sin, or perhaps salutary (“Consider yourself, one of us! Consider yourself, part of the family!”), or they knew she wouldn’t make it and yet advanced her guaranteed-to-fail nomination on purpose, as the article suggests. In any case, indicative of how corrupt, deceptive, and performative our political show is at the federal level.

    1. junez

      They must also have known that she proposed the following in an October article:

      “(2) Allow the Fed, in “extreme and rare circumstances, when the Fed is unable to control inflation by raising interest rates,” to confiscate deposits from these FedAccounts in order to tighten monetary policy;
      (3) Allow the most Wall Street-conflicted regional Fed bank in the country, the New York Fed, when there are “rises in market value at rates suggestive of a bubble trend,” such as with technology stocks today, to “short these securities, thereby putting downward pressure on their prices”;
      (4) Eliminate the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that insures bank deposits in the U.S. and prevents panic runs on banks;”

      Even Milton Friedman supported the FDIC as “the most important structural change in our monetary institutions since at least 1914…”

      1. George Phillies


        Your cut and paste accidentally dropped point 1, which explains why point 2 is so interesting:

        “(1) Move all commercial bank deposits from commercial banks to so-called FedAccounts at the Federal Reserve;”

        All you people whose politics we dislike? Sorry you have no money any more.

    2. Pablo

      This also smooths the skids for the next Nominee. If the Opposition pounces on Biden’s next Nominee it will look like partisan Politics. Of course they knew about Omarova’s shoplifting.

  4. mike

    “A financial regulator has absolutely no nexus to climate policy.” I’m less convinced of this. We have been hearing a lot of chatter about the FED adding climate concerns to their calculations. The ultimate in unelected power with nothing to do with the environment and climate policy is about to get involved. I also wouldn’t have expected the CDC to have a nexus to housing policy. Times are changing and traditional rules or norms are regularly violated by the power hungry establishment

  5. KLG

    Regarding Hank Paulson, if my information is correct he is now the principal owner of this slice of paradise. I’ve seen it from the water and once beached a boat on the island so I could say I had been there. I have wondered what Paulson thinks about the likelihood that much of Little St. Simons Island will be underwater in the foreseeable future, when his grandchildren might not be able to take their children for a visit to see the birds and dolphins. He is one of his largely indifferent class who could have made a difference.

  6. meadows

    Let me get a handle on this… so in addition to Biden’s outright lying about banning new oil and gas permits on gov’t land, he also deliberately puts forward a bound to fail “progressive” in order to derail actual progress so that lefties can be sidelined?

    Is he that sophisticated? Or is this just embedded in the Dem Party…”We set up to actually fail, but have a nifty narrative, then go back to pretending powerlessness and raising money.”

    More habitual than conscious?

    1. ambrit

      Cynic that I am, I now lean towards the idea that the Democrat Party is a melange of both Stupidity and Evil. Both “hands” of this malign Chimera hold knives with which to stab the Public in the back with. To steal a trope from the Democrat Party’s favourite “political dance partner,” [them which brung us,] we are seeing the logical evolution of Performative Politics.
      Kayfabe as Policy.

    2. Anon

      Bro… just… the law of averages would have them do something out of character, if it wasn’t on purpose. Broken clocks, they are not; they are finely tuned, well oiled, and eager to perform.

  7. Matthew G. Saroff

    About the shoplifting, it appears that the charges were dismissed, though it is unclear whether this was a deal or a misunderstanding.

    Still, it’s pretty clear that Omarova was nominated with the intention of losing.

    1. Joe Well

      I agree with Yves’s interpretation but it is sad that in the US, an arrest is in some ways no different from a conviction.

      The presumption of innocence is dying.

      PS the article said the charges were dismissed under a first offender program. But there certainly have been cases of people wrongly accused of shoplifting by security guards.

      1. Oh

        The presumption of innocence is a myth. e.g. if you get a speeding ticket the judge will always side with the cop unless you have a lawyer.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      That is not accurate. From Daily Mail:

      She had a ‘deferred prosecution’ for the charge early the following year, according to the report, which also states that the charge was dropped under Wisconsin’s first offender program.

      The charge was dropped LATER because she had no incidents during the deferred prosecution period. If she had been caught stealing again, the charge would have been made effective in addition to the new charge.

      Deferred prosecution is akin to probation:


      But since she was a first offender and Wisconsin has a special program, the charges were removed when she finished her deferred prosecution period clean.

      She went through checkout to pay for other items with the loot (shoes etc) in her purse. This is a pretty common shoplifting trick: don’t walk directly out of the store, act like you are a normal patron.

      She also offered to pay, so she attempted “This isn’t stealing because I said I’d pay when caught.”

  8. Susan the other

    Food for thought. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has a mandate to see to it that all national and federal banks and savings operate according to the rules and the goal is to keep the money circulating to promote a functioning economy. Just remembering what a hapless twit the CC was in 2008 when everything that had been hunky dory the day before suddenly imploded – he was totally paralyzed with the chaos of collapse. He couldn’t even put together a coherent sentence as I remember. Things are better regulated now, but does the CC have any more control than before? So the idea I’m searching for is what is the fallback position when the system fails again? Because if, for instance, oil does effectively go bankrupt (which it will) how, or can, the OCC regulate banking to keep the economy humming along? To keep the money flowing? Is the “independent” OCC just another nonsense adjective? The OCC works in and for Treasury and no doubt will be joined at the hip with Yellen or her successor. And when the time comes to nationalize oil (always my expectation) it will be because big oil capitulates because environmental restrictions prevent any semblance of profitable operation. (And also at that point big finance will take the hit.) Right? So just to point out here – We actually do want oil to go bankrupt. And we also want a smooth transition, a nexus, at Treasury because it will be Treasury that then keeps things running, maintains sufficient liquidity and blablablah.

  9. solarjay

    Biden is doing what he said he would. Nothing would change.
    As to climate change mitigation, there really isn’t much he’s done at all. Some small tweaks around the edges and mostly its just same old, same old. There is so much low hanging ideas that are easy and cheap, mostly having to do with regulation changes, but also real hardware/design changes.

    But I want to push back on the the anti carbon capture. The idea of carbon capture has been stated by the best scientists in the world,( the last 2 IPCC reports) realizing that we don’t have the time to wait for it to decay in the atmosphere. It is not being used as a instead of, but in addition too all the other GHG emissions reductions.
    What is getting mixed up in all this is that people are ( and probably rightly so) using the idea that CCS/DAC is going to be used by big oil as a way to burn more oil. Maybe so, but how does anyone else plan on reducing the carbon in the atmosphere?
    Stopping production does not reduce what’s already up there! Since 2008 and the great Obama, the world has added 25% of all the CO2 ever produced. And the CO2 production isn’t going down, just look at the chart in the Guardian, oh wait they took it out after the IPCC meetings are over, my bad.

    So right now, lets spend billions on CCS/DCA and we get the process more efficient and cost effective in the coming years. That is bad why? Do you think that we will burn more or less oil/coal/gas if we have CCS/DAC or if we don’t?

    I”ll keep saying it, if we want to actually deal with the climate emergency, in no particular order:
    nuclear ( generator IV)
    circular geothermal
    energy efficiency
    E liquid fuels ( the rest of the world doesn’t’ have the infrastructure to do electric cars, so we make liquid gasoline and diesel with zero carbon energy and ship it around the world. Its not about efficiency, its about carbon reduction)
    smaller lighter, more efficient cars, not 6000lb electric monsters, or 7500# electric pickups. With actually hybrid being probably the better overall choice for most people right now.
    hydrogen for trucks and heavy equipment. Reason is that its a few hundred times more energy/weight dense than batteries. And you can fill a truck/mining truck, train, farm equipment in minutes instead of hours.

    Do it all right now. In 10 or 15 or 20 years, we might look back and go, you know we didn’t need to do A or C or F, but we didn’t know that at the time. But given how we are going we will look back and say, you know we should have done A,B,C,D,E,F…..

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The only carbon capture I know of is plant-based. People can certainly pursue the other purely speculative and exotic unicorn vapor-technologies if they want to. I hope that plant-based carbon capture is also ramped up as hard as possible in the meantime.

      1. BeliTsari

        Nah; ALL they’re about is greenwashing any wish-think diversions, their oilgarch masters can enrich themselves, to make believe they’re not simply bailing-out failed: shale gas/ oil, GE Monoculture/ CAFO agribusiness, crumbling fission plants around our cities, SCARY geo-engineering and carbon sequestration & BS Bail-out Better bio-fuel boondoggles?



        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Nah? Oh but . . . Yah.

          Here are a few sources and leads/thoughts . . .

          Carbon Farming by Toensmeier. https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/the-carbon-farming-solution/

          Regenerative Agriculture/Farming as done by Gabe Brown and few enough other farmers that they can all be named. Skycarbon drains into plants and plants inject some of it back into the soil for broadacre carbon bio-sequestration.

          Massive wetlands restoration including most especially peat bogs for sucking down the skycarbon and sequestering it in plant-mass form under the water where oxygen can’t get to it. That is how the massive swamp forest of the Carboniferous Period bio-sequestered so much skycarbon that it could get pressed together and hardened up into the rock now known as “coal”.

          Biochar. Other things.

  10. Darren

    Even though the weather changes pretty blatantly and dramatically through four seasons–just compare winter temperatures to summer temperatures if you don’t believe me–there are still wackos out there who don’t want to destroy western civilization in order to save us from the climate change. They’d rather we use shelter and clothing, etc., to protect ourselves from the weather.

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