"Clean Energy Advocate" Carlos Curbelo Supports More Oil Drilling

Rep. Carlos Curbelo speaks to fifth-grade students in Homestead about climate change and sea level rise.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo speaks to fifth-grade students in Homestead about climate change and sea level rise.
Photo by Denise Mendoza

Since he entered office in January, Florida Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo has made headlines for his progressive stance on environmental issues. Representing Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which stretches from Miami to Key West, he touts clean energy, and has split from much of his party in advocating for steps to combat climate change, which he says is “a major challenge and threat we all face, especially in South Florida.”

But after recent actions to support offshore drilling, including a symbolic video filmed aboard an oil rig, some are left scratching their heads, wanting to know just what sort of clean energy strategy the freshman Congressman really supports. 

Jermaine House, of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says, “Curbelo is fully backed by the oil and gas industry.” 

In an August audio advertisement, the National Republican Congressional Committee boasted about Curbelo’s dedication to South Florida’s environment and for “keeping the Florida Keys a place to treasure.” And in September, he and ten other Republican representatives introduced a resolution in the House that acknowledges the problem of climate change and commits to working on solutions. Many lauded his support for alternative and renewable energy.

“We need new solutions for new challenges,” the NRCC advertisement said, over the ambient sound of birds and crashing waves. “Curbelo recognizes the threats our natural treasures face. There’s more offshore oil drilling around us and sea levels rising. We need to protect this ... beauty, for us and future generations.”

But then, just a few weeks later, Curbelo appeared in a short video aboard an oil rig, in which he touted offshore drilling as part of an “all-of-the-above energy strategy.” In 2015, the phrase "all-of-the-above" has come to mean support for more oil and gas drilling, while investing in alternative energy. In the video, he says oil drilling will “grow the American economy and make the country secure.”

So far this year, Curbelo has received $15,100 from the oil and gas industry, according to the website Open Secrets, which tracks federal campaign contributions and lobbying data. 

A Curbelo spokesperson told New Times, “The congressman is not a cheerleader for oil companies."

Yesterday, Curbelo testified at the House Committee on Rules on behalf of a bill he’s co-sponsoring, H.R. 702, to “adapt to the changing crude oil market conditions” by allowing the U.S. to export more oil. Fracking, especially, has unlocked new sources of oil and gas in much of the United States, and Republicans want to capitalize on it.

“Washington Republicans’ attempt to hide Carlos Curbelo’s real record on the environment is desperate and hypocritical,” House said.

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