GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah slammed the “crony capitalism” of the outdoor gear manufacturer Patagonia at a congressional hearing on public lands Wednesday.
In his five-minute round of questioning, Bishop denounced Patagonia and Hans Cole, the company’s environmental campaigns director, for hypocrisy and lying in his testimony before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. Bishop is the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Natural Resources, which oversees the subcommittee.
“Mr. Cole, I appreciate the fact that you are here when none of your company was actually going to attend last year’s, so thank you for accepting a Democrat invitation,” Bishop began his critique of Patagonia. “I think it clearly illustrates how crony capitalism was working very well in the last administration and may do it again in the future.” (RELATED: Trump Makes A Massive Reduction To Utah’s National Monuments)
Patagonia campaigned against and sued the Trump administration over cuts to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah in December 2017. Bishop invited Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard to testify before Congress on the monument cutback.
Chouinard declined the invitation, and Bishop blasted the corporate outdoorsman as “someone who rarely, if ever, encounters people with different viewpoints.”
In the hearing, Bishop called the company and Cole “play actors” that outwardly support the goals of many environmental activists but behave in a way that benefits the company’s “bottom line.” He said:
For example, the stuff that is made in China by your company, your company clearly put out the statement, ‘We’ve made the choice not to disengage with countries on the basis of their policies.’ … Amongst those policies, which the company now wishes to ignore, is: the internment and re-education of over a million Uyghur Muslims; routine jailing of environmental activists and civil rights campaigners; destroying over 3,000 acres of coral reefs in the South China Sea with runways, ports and military facilities; subsidizing long-range commercial fishing fleets that threaten the viability of fishing around the world; providing $36 billion in financing to developing countries for the construction of over 102 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants. In addition, just the Patagonia businesses in China, 65 percent of all those businesses are run on coal. If you’d actually done your work in America, the average in the United States is only 37 percent, which would be a lot nicer. Now in addition to that, the testimony you’ve given here has whole bunch of false narratives in there.
Bishop then moved on to Cole’s testimony, at times quoting and paraphrasing an entire paragraph that Bishop said was “false.”
The paragraph in question reads:
The Administration’s actions not only rob Native people and all Americans of their natural and cultural heritage, threaten communities that depend on the outdoor industry for economic survival, poison our water and air, and wreak untold damage on vulnerable species — they also exacerbate the climate crisis. Opening up public lands to more extraction will increase emissions and destroy ecosystems that help mitigate climate change by storing carbon.
Bishop ended his five minutes going after Patagonia’s decision to spend $10 million it kept as a result of Republicans lowering taxes at the end of 2017.
“I’m pleased that on the tax break you got, you got $10 million and you decided to put that into politics,” Bishop said. “Had you done that into something that actually [helped] the backlog in [national park] maintenance, that could have been real and that could have been something specific and that could have been happily there.”
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