By Joshua Randle and Alexus Bouyoung
The African American community cannot afford six more years of Senator Ron Johnson serving as a mouthpiece in the U.S. Senate for Big Oil, protecting the industry’s record profits and price-gouging habits at the expense of hardworking Wisconsin families.
Although gas prices are down from their peak as Wisconsin enters the final days of the 2022 midterms, they’re still unreasonably high.
Like most voters, I blame Big Oil and its windfall profits. The evidence, after all, hides in plain sight as Big Oil and Gas companies announce another quarter of jaw-dropping multi-billion dollar profits resulting from oil executives keeping prices artificially high to maximize their bottom line. In the third quarter alone, Exxon and Chevron made more than $30 billion in quarterly profits between the two companies. Exxon reported $20 billion for Q3, an all-time high and 119% greater than Q3 last year; Chevron reported $11 billion for Q3, a 90% increase.
It’s important to note these outrageous profits were collected as Senator Ron Johnson shielded his Big Oil campaign contributors from the blame they deserve for price gouging and profiteering as Wisconsin families struggle to make ends meet. Senator Johnson has taken more than $296,000 from the oil and gas lobby to support his reelection and more than $855,000 in his career.
No wonder Johnson has been so quick all these years to undermine the science of climate change and do everything he can to block clean energy and climate action on behalf of Big Oil while the rest of us pay the price. Johnson has voted against climate action and clean energy – more than 30 times, most recently voting against the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant clean energy investment in American history. The new legislation will turbocharge Wisconsin’s already robust clean energy sector, which accounted for over 71,000 jobs at the end of 2021. It will also bring an estimated $4 billion investment in large-scale clean power generation and storage to Wisconsin between now and 2030, creating even more jobs.
Johnson’s shameful voting record on behalf of Big Oil has set Wisconsinites back for far too long, killing jobs, hiking costs, and leaving us to face the wrath of climate change. He’s also left our state dependent on fossil fuels and vulnerable to price-gouging and outrageous corporate greed.
Unlike Senator Johnson, who calls climate change bullsh*t, Wisconsin’s communities of color don’t have the luxury that Johnson and his supporters seem to have for ignoring climate change. We know from our own lived experiences and that of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones that climate change is, in fact, real, and it requires our leaders’ immediate attention.
Communities of color suffer a disproportionate burden from the climate crisis and experience economic hardship and skyrocketing costs. “Race” is also the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in this country hit by climate change. Wisconsin ranks as the third worst in the country for racial disparities in exposure to harmful air pollution. The disparities are most pronounced here in Milwaukee, where the city’s unfortunate legacy of racist housing policy factors into the persistence of air pollution inequality.
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is the only candidate in the race for Senate that understands and respects Black and Brown communities’ lived experiences of climate change, and that makes it harder for people of color. Not only does Barnes focus on our shared responsibility for protecting the planet for ourselves and future generations, but he also offers a clear plan for strengthening Wisconsin’s clean energy transition. One that will create thousands of good-paying jobs in infrastructure, manufacturing, and transportation that will help traditionally underserved communities like ours.
President Biden got it right on Monday when he called for a windfall profits tax, which would hold profiteering oil and gas companies accountable for price gouging and put money back into consumers’ pockets. Oil and gas companies have made more than $300 billion in profit this year by price-gouging consumers at the pump to the benefit of wealthy oil executives and shareholders. It’s time to deliver that money back to Wisconsin families.
If you’ve had enough of climate-change-denying Senator Ron Johnson helping Big Oil get richer and richer at our expense, I urge you to join me in casting your vote to send Mandela Barnes to the U.S. Senate, reelect Governor Evers and the other Democrats on the ballot – the only party today with a plan and proven track record of combating climate change, taking on Big Oil, and positioning Wisconsin to lead the transition toward a clean energy future. We must vote because our lives matter, and our climate future is worth fighting for!