Author and pro-energy advocate Alex Epstein shocked attendees of a congressional hearing when he told a Democratic senator to “apologize” to fossil fuel companies he’s vilified and tried to silence, or he should simply “resign.”
“As long as your life is being made possible by the people in the fossil fuel industry, I think you should be grateful, and I think it is a crime — a moral crime — that you are damning anyone by association,” Epstein said during a Senate hearing Wednesday, referring to Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
“I wish Sen. Whitehouse were here because what he is doing to the free speech of those companies and anyone associated with them is unconstitutional and I think he should apologize or resign,” Epstein said.
Epstein, who runs the think tank the Center for Industrial Progress, was referring to Whitehouse’s continued vilification of fossil fuel companies and groups skeptical of global warming.
In recent months, Whitehouse has even promoted federal prosecution of groups he believes cast doubt on the supposed dangers of man-made global warming. Whitehouse recently praised an op-ed calling for federal prosecutors to go after companies and think tanks under an anti-mafia law.
“Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution,” Whitehouse wrote in a May Washington Post op-ed.
“Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking,” he wrote. “Big Tobacco’s denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise.”
Epstein argued it’s immoral for Whitehouse and others to attack the free speech rights of companies and think tanks, especially since the modern world and all its prosperity would not be possible without fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas.
“Even coal today is some of the cleanest energy people have ever had access to,” Epstein said. “In North Dakota, you have some of the cleanest air in the country and an enormous amount of coal-fired power.”
“It seems to be an easy way to score points to talk about someone’s affiliation with the industry,” he said. “Now, I do not happen to be funded by anybody since I am an independent speaker and writer, but I am very proud that I sell books to and give speeches to fossil fuel companies.”
“These are companies that everyday have individuals who are taking action to keep all of us alive, and, without being too rude about it, most of the people on this committee are quite into their years — very few of you would be alive without cheap, plentiful, reliable energy,” he said.
Whitehouse’s office did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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