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Bloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal?

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It has recently been reported that Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and failed presidential candidate, plans to spend $50 million of his fortune to help fight the coronavirus. That is welcome news and a significantly positive shift in philanthropic direction for Bloomberg. Based on his track record, only time will tell if this is a change in direction for him or just a temporary moment of rationality.

In just 100 days, Bloomberg blew through an astonishing $900 million of his own personal fortune in the single most expensive failed presidential bid in American history. Bloomberg’s spending was so prodigious that MSNBC’s Brian Williams and New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay claimed in a now infamous interview that he could have given each American a million dollars in lieu of his campaign spending and still had money left over. 

That calculation, while embarrassingly incorrect, does shine a light on an important point: Bloomberg has a penchant for dumping ridiculous amounts of money in support of dubious political causes. 

Bloomberg built his business empire supplying Wall Street traders with market intelligence software and an electronic commodities trading platform. He should be commended for these contributions as a businessman and some, but certainly not all, of his accomplishments as New York City mayor. 

But up until his recent pledge to help in the struggle to combat the coronavirus, his many forays into philanthropy are downright destructive. 

Take energy for example. The Bloomberg Family Foundation, a $7 billion organization of which Bloomberg is the sole benefactor, has given millions of dollars to organizations with one overarching goal: the elimination of the natural gas, oil and coal industries.

For years, Bloomberg has been funneling his money to far-left, extreme environmental organizations. Between 2008 and 2016, the Bloomberg Family Foundation doled out $132 million to groups whose primary mission is putting the companies that provide us with affordable and reliable energy out of business. Don’t forget, that also means putting the miners, wildcatters, roughnecks, pipefitters, suppliers and others who work for these companies out on the street.  

Some of the more egregious examples of these foolhardy forays include a nearly $5 million grant to the Energy Foundation in support of the “Beyond Coal Campaign” and almost $3 million to the World Resources Institute, who would upend our energy economy and require Americans to make major lifestyle changes in the name of climate change mitigation. Can you say, “Green New Deal”? Another $1.5 million was given to the Natural Resources Defense Council “to reduce carbon pollution,” undoubtedly through the government control of our energy use. Never mind that these very energy resources are what power our economy and improve our quality of life, which has become even more evident as we shelter in place to fight the coronavirus.

Given the fact that the Democratic party has traded its blue-collar roots for a green one, it seems clear that Bloomberg’s moves were in part an attempt to kiss the ring of the political kingmakers in the Democratic political hierarchy. While Bloomberg isn’t the sole contributor to Big Green, Inc. (the name Tom Steyer also comes to mind here), he certainly has one of the highest profiles.

Unlike his failed presidential bid, Bloomberg’s backing of environmental pressure organizations is more than a waste of his money. The energy industry — specifically our natural gas, oil and coal producers — form the backbone of our economy. Many of the hundreds of products derived from petrochemicals — especially fibers and plastics — are essential in keeping our hospitals and homes sanitized. The millions that Bloomberg has given to the cause of eliminating these essential industries has cost people their livelihoods. And as we see during this pandemic, a world without natural gas, oil and coal also cost people their lives.

Now that the hangover of the Democratic presidential primary has worn off, has Mike Bloomberg finally come to his senses? Does he recognize that the war on COVID-19 is significantly more meaningful than the war on coal? Only time will tell.

Thomas J. Pyle is the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), a not-for-profit that engages in grassroots public policy advocacy and debate concerning energy and environmental policies. AEA’s legislative and public policy advocacy take place at both the state and national level.

Tags Climate activist Coal Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID19 environmental activist Michael Bloomberg Pandemic Tom Steyer war on coal

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