Rashida Tlaib’s ‘net-zero’ energy fantasy is dangerous

Winter is coming; will your energy sources be reliable and ready?

Zero is the most dangerous word in government.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, offered a reminder of its danger this week at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the oversight of U.S. banks.

To reach international climate goals by 2050, Tlaib said, banks will need to shift their financing work in the energy sector away from oil and gas production. Tlaib’s timeline was stark and immediate.

“Do you know what the International Energy Agency has said is necessary to reach our goals?” Tlaib asked bank officials.

It was a rhetorical question. It was not yet their turn to talk.

“No new fossil fuel production, starting today,” Tlaib said, answering her own query. “So that’s, like, zero.”

Then Tlaib asked the bankers if their banks had policies against financing new oil and gas projects. 

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, answered first.

“Absolutely not,” Dimon said. “That would be the road to hell for America.”

Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center, said the green energy sources Tlaib prefers are not ready to take over from fossil fuels. An immediate transition would be premature, and dangerous.

“She (Tlaib) is pontificating about the potential impacts of climate change on dispossessed or disenfranchised groups,” Hayes told CapCon. “But she completely ignores the fact that stopping the use of fossil fuels would leave those same people (and a whole lot more) starving and freezing across the state and country. On that matter Dimon is absolutely correct.”

Per the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the grid operator for the Midwest, wind (10%), solar (2.5%) and “other” (1.5%) account for only 14% of regional energy generation. The remaining 86% comes from coal (38%), natural gas (32%) and nuclear (16%). That’s an 86-14 split. 

One of two things is true: Tlaib knows this and is pushing for zero oil and gas anyway, which is irresponsible. Or she doesn’t know this and is pushing for zero anyway, which is irresponsible. 

“We are living through a climate crisis today,” Tlaib said at the hearing. “And a commitment to net zero requires a commitment to ending fossil fuel financing.”

Banking is a highly regulated field, even on its best day. Nobody wants any trouble with the government. It’s not easy to say that the emperor has no clothes, or that the government has no plan. Not with Tlaib encouraging Chase members to pull their funds, as she did, or threatening bankers who are unwilling with regulation, as she did.

“If your financial institutions aren't going to follow through on their net zero commitments, regulators, including the Federal Reserve and Congress, must step in and make them,” Tlaib warned.

Most of the bankers at the hearing were the retiring sort. They wanted Tlaib out of their hair, and they wasted no time telling her what she wanted to hear: Yes, we are transitioning from fossil fuels. 

Dimon spoke an inconvenient truth: Green energy sources aren’t ready. 

“We aren’t getting this one right,” Dimon told the committee, as reported by Fox Business. “The world needs 100 million barrels effectively of oil and gas every day. And we need it for 10 years.”

Dimon added: “To do that, we need proper investing in the oil and gas complex. Investing in the oil and gas complex is good for reducing CO2. We’ve all seen, because of the high price of oil and gas — particularly for the rest of the world — you’ve seen everyone going back to coal.”

Whether or not you agree with Tlaib's position — and Michigan Capitol Confidential does not — she is at least fighting the battle in a transparent way. She’s making her case at the committee table, with cameras rolling. 

What’s happening behind the scenes is more worrying. ESG investing is a backdoor attempt, within the banking world, at forcing the green energy transition. Among other goals, such as diversity and equity requirements.

Regardless of Dimon’s public protestations, Chase partakes in ESG, just like its counterparts. This they do at the behest of government, fearing regulations that are worse. So while Tlaib and Dimon argue publicly over the timeline of the transition, Chase is ultimately moving in the direction Tlaib prefers.

Dimon had more to lose than gain by speaking up. 

So why did he? With every reason not to?

For the same reason the Mackinac Center does: Winter is coming. And it’s important that the energy we rely on be reliable.

James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at


Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.