Georgia Republican Herschel Walker said the Biden administration’s sweeping new climate law represents unnecessary spending because it sets aside money to plant and protect trees.
“They try to fool you and make you think they are helping you out — they’re not. You know that some of this money is going into trees? We got enough trees — don’t we have enough trees around here?” Walker said Sunday in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Essentially, no — the planet does not have enough trees to neutralize the impact of burning fossil fuels.
While a 2015 study found the earth has over 3 trillion trees, the number of trees here now is far less than at the beginning of human civilization — and not nearly enough to offset the devastating effects of climate change, scientists say.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Congress without a single Republican vote, allocates $1.5 billion over a decade to the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which funds tree-planting in cities like Atlanta that struggle with poor air quality. Especially in lower-income areas, scientists agree that trees are beneficial, helping to reduce air pollution and temperatures.
In 2020, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order joining the United States in the World Economic Forum’s Trillion Trees Initiative, which Trump described as “an ambitious effort to bring together government and the private sector to plant new trees in America and around the world.” Climate advocates opposed the order, however, on the grounds it didn’t do anything to mitigate the driving factor behind climate change — the consumption of fossil fuel — and encouraged logging.
The funds earmarked for anything tree-related are just a small portion of the $750 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which not only tackles climate change but health care and prescription drug costs, major planks of Democrats’ domestic agenda.
It’s not the first time the Republican Senate candidate caused controversy with his climate commentary, like when he offered an extreme oversimplification of the global impact of air pollution.
Walker’s campaign provided his full remarks from the event, showing he also cited the law’s provision for additional IRS agents as further reckless spending, and questioned whether the law in general would actually decrease inflation as promised.
Walker doubled down in a tweet: “Yes, you heard me right … Joe Biden and @ReverandWarmock are spending $1.5 billion on ‘urban forestry’ and raising taxes on those making under $200k to pay for it. Yes, I have a problem with that,” he wrote. Biden’s administration says the law won’t directly raise taxes on households earning less than $400,000 a year, but a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis concluded it could indirectly impact people at lower income thresholds.
The comments surfaced after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) commented last week on the quality of GOP candidates running in this year’s election, when Republicans are eyeing control of both congressional chambers.
A former NFL player endorsed by Trump, Walker is running to oust incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock in one of the nation’s most contested battlegrounds.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said last week. “Senate races are just different ... candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
The remarks were interpreted as a dig against first-time candidates like Walker — who has struggled to stay on message as well as explain why he hadn’t disclosed two of his children after criticizing absentee fathers — Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and J.D. Vance in Ohio.