The Case for Nationalizing the Fossil Fuel Industry


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The climate is in crisis. Scientists have repeatedly warned policymakers that to have a reasonable chance at limiting global warming to 1.5ºC, emissions need to be rapidly wound down. But the power of the fossil fuel corporations, armed with hundreds and hundreds of lobbyists on the Hill, won’t have any of it. They must extract, extract, extract. Corporations are unwilling, and markets are simply incapable of rapidly phasing out the industry that is destroying our planet.

There is another way. People’s Policy Project, in collaboration with The Next System Project, has released its latest paper: “Out of Time: The Case for Nationalizing the Fossil Fuel Industry.” The paper was written by Mark Paul, Carla Santos Skandier, and Rory Renzy.

Much recent work has focused on building the green economy. That work is of the utmost importance. But to fully transition the economy away from fossil fuels policymakers have to dismantle the existing dirty economy too. A managed transition requires planning.

The paper outlines the environmental, political, and economic case for nationalizing the fossil fuel industry. While each of these have merits worth consideration, the strongest case for nationalization is a one-time buyout of the political power of fossil fuel interests. If we could neutralize the fossil fuel corporations, shareholders, and lobbyists responsible for climate inaction, we could finally see real action to address the climate crisis. The most feasible path to nationalization runs through the Federal Reserve. Through buying out the fossil fuel industry, we would give the planet the best chance possible at containing the climate crisis while putting people’s livelihoods before short-term profits.