Brouillette Should Resign Over Racially Insensitive Remarks

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: In an interview with Axios today, U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette compared the refusal by several major banks to finance oil and gas development in the Arctic to discrimination faced by people of color.

No, Secretary Brouillette, the experiences of oil and gas companies are not equivalent to those of discriminated-against communities of color. Bank redlining against African American communities involved the pernicious refusal to provide mortgage and banking services on account of race. The increasing number of banks declining to lend for Arctic drilling are taking minimal – and inadequate – steps to avert catastrophic climate change.

Not the same thing, Brouillette. In fact, given that the climate crisis will most severely impact people of color in the U.S. and around the world, bank refusal to support Arctic drilling is, in spirit, diametrically opposed to historic redlining.

Redlining against African Americans – which was based on both official U.S. government and private bank policy – is an especially raw and shameful part of American history, with lasting effects. It is outrageous and morally repugnant that the energy secretary would equate discriminatory bank practices toward African Americans with lending policy to oil and gas companies.

He should resign.