Analysis | Fox News host gives climate skeptics airtime, but went … – The Washington Post

with research by Vanessa Montalbano

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In today’s edition, we’ll cover why energy companies are using captured carbon to extract more oil. But first:
When Fox News host Bret Baier listed his D.C. mansion for an eye-popping $31.9 million last week, some eagle-eyed observers noticed a surprising feature: Dozens of solar panels covered parts of the roof.
“A Fox News guy has solar panels? What does Murdoch think?!” wrote a commenter on an online forum for D.C. parents, referring to Rupert Murdoch, who launched the Fox media empire and has previously described himself as a “climate change skeptic.”
The listing agent, Daniel Heider of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, confirmed to The Washington Post that 86 solar panels were installed last year on a portion of the 16,250-square-foot French-chateau-style home. This comes as Baier — who hosts the highest rated cable news program in its time slot — has used his platform to amplify criticism of action on climate change, including the adoption of solar and other clean-energy sources.
Some prominent conservatives — including Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine — have also embraced solar while pushing back against climate initiatives aimed at speeding the transition away from fossil fuels. 
Despite their climate stances, all three men appear to have accepted a market reality: Solar panels increasingly make economic sense, especially for those who can afford the upfront costs. 
“Solar panels are a good investment in much of the U.S., regardless of politics,” said Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst at the energy research firm BloombergNEF. She said the clean-energy tax credits in President Biden’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, make solar even more attractive across the country.
It’s unclear whether Baier claimed the subsidies, unlike in the case of Utah Republican Rep. John Curtis, who used the credits to buy 30 solar panels after voting against the climate law. A Fox News spokeswoman did not respond to attempts to seek comment from Baier.
Baier, whose home sale would be the most expensive in D.C. history if it fetches the listing price, hosts a news show on Fox, and therefore approaches political stories with more balance than the network’s well-known opinion programming. 
Yet Baier’s show, Special Report, has consistently misled the public about climate change, according to a 2021 analysis by Media Matters, a left-leaning watchdog group. 
“The climate denial of the opinion hosts is more overt because it’s coming straight from their mouths,” said Allison Fisher, director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters. “But I think what Bret Baier is doing is more insidious because he’s inviting other people on [his show] to either deny or downplay climate change or challenge the efficacy of solutions.”
Baier has given some airtime to advocates of climate action. 
Then there is Massie, the Kentucky congressman, who has been described as “one of the GOP’s most dedicated critics of liberal climate plans.” 
Even so, he lives in an off-the-grid home powered by solar panels and a Tesla Model S battery pack, which together produce all the electricity his family needs to run a cattle farm. At the same time, he drives a Tesla with a Kentucky license plate that reads “Friends of coal” and “Coal keeps the lights on!”
For the idiosyncratic lawmaker, solar panels are less about fighting climate change than about promoting a Jeffersonian ideal of rugged self-reliance.
“If Thomas Jefferson could have had solar panels at Monticello, he’d have had solar panels,” Massie told the libertarian economist and podcaster Matt Kibbe in 2019. “The less you have to go to the store and buy, the less dependent you are on Walmart — it’s not just that you’re greener, but you’re more independent.”
Massie’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Click here to read our full story about Baier and the conservatives who have gone solar.
Each year, companies capture nearly 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In theory, this CO2 could be stored deep underground so that it doesn’t warm the planet. But in practice, nearly 60 percent of this CO2 is used to extract more oil in a controversial process known as “enhanced oil recovery” — and the federal government is picking up the tab, The Post’s Shannon Osaka reports. 
For over a decade, the government has been quietly funding the capture of CO2 that is ultimately used for enhanced oil recovery, which accounts for about 4 percent of U.S. oil production. Some climate activists and researchers argue that the government shouldn’t be helping companies boost fossil fuel extraction at a time when President Biden is taking bold steps to limit global warming.
“We need to remove a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere,” said Erin Burns, the executive director of Carbon180, an advocacy group. “[But] using that removal to produce additional fossil fuels is not aligned to meeting our climate goals.”
Other energy experts argue that the climate impact of enhanced oil recovery is insignificant because that oil would be drilled anyway, regardless of whether captured CO2 is available. 
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) yesterday awarded power contracts to three offshore wind projects in an effort to help the state meet its ambitious clean-energy goals, Michael Hill reports for the Associated Press. 
The conditional awards come as several offshore wind projects face delays because of higher-than-expected costs and supply chain bottlenecks. The build out of offshore wind in New York is crucial to achieving the state’s goal of a 100 percent carbon-free grid by 2040. State law also sets a target of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2035.
The projects announced yesterday — Attentive Energy One, Community Offshore Wind and Excelsior Wind — are able to generate 4,032 megawatts of power and are expected to be operating by 2030. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will now negotiate final contracts with the developers of the three ventures.
New York on Tuesday also announced awards to 22 land-based solar, wind and hydroelectric projects. Combined, these projects will deliver clean power to about 2.6 million homes, Hochul’s office said.
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