Will the GOP Nominate a Climate Change Denier in 2012?

Of the early contenders for the Republican nomination, five outright deny or question climate science, while the remaining three are opposed to all meaningful action.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

In the early stages of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012, eight names are mentioned most frequently: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, Bobby Jindal and Dick Cheney.

Of these eight early contenders, five outright deny or question climate science, while the remaining three are opposed to all meaningful action.

If Gingrich, Jindal or Barbour wish to claim they are not opposed to all meaningful action, they'll have to present plans that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent scientists say is necessary, which is on the order of an 80+ percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. An 'All of the Above' strategy of increased domestic oil and gas development and incentives for nuclear plants that will never be built does not even come close.

Mitt Romney, as part of the unveiling of the Massachusetts Climate Action Plan, wrote:

"If climate change is happening, the actions we take will help," Romney wrote. "If climate change is largely caused by human action, this will really help. If we learn decades from now that climate change isn't happening, these actions will still help our economy, our quality of life, and the quality of our environment."

Katie Couric: "Do you think the risks of climate change are at all overblown?"

Mike Huckabee: I don't know. I mean, the honest answer for me, scientifically, is I don't know.

Dick Cheney, speaking to ABC news in 2007, said:

"We're going to see a big debate on it going forward," Cheney told ABC News, about "the extent to which it is part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it's caused by man." What we know today, he added, is "not enough to just sort of run out and try to slap together some policy that's going to 'solve' the problem."

RUSH: What's our biggest energy challenge as a country? Do you believe at all or some or a lot in the modern-day go-green movement of solar and wind and all of these nefarious things that really don't produce anything yet?

GOV. PALIN: I think there's a lot of snake oil science involved in that and somebody's making a whole lot of money off people's fears that the world is... It's kind of tough to figure out with the shady science right now, what are we supposed to be doing right now with our climate. Are we warming or are we cooling? I don't think Americans are even told anymore if it's global warming or just climate change. And I don't attribute all the changes to man's activities. I think that this is, in a lot of respects, cyclical and the earth does cool and it warms.

Tim Pawlenty, who was once an advocate of clean energy solutions to the climate crisis, has steadily moved in the wrong direction as his national ambitions have grown. Think Progress recently documented his regression as follows:

Dec. 2006: Pawlenty lays out an ambitious clean energy program for Minnesotans to reduce their use of fossil fuels 15 percent by 2015. Cutting greenhouse gases, Pawlenty said, would "be good for the environment, good for rural economies, good for national security and good for consumers." He also calls for a regional cap and trade program.May 2007: Pawlenty signs the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, requiring the state to reduce its emissions 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent in 2050. At the signing ceremony, Pawlenty said Minnesota was "kicking-starting the future" by "tackling greenhouse gas emissions."

Oct. 2007: Pawlenty declares that the climate change issue is "one of the most important of our time." He also brushes off "some flak" from right-wingers who doubt climate change science.

Sept. 2008: During the election, Pawlenty backs away from his own cap and trade program, says such a system would "wreck the economy." He then tells hate radio personality Glenn Beck (a climate change denier) that human activity only contributes "half a percent" to climate change.

Nov. 2009: Pawlenty backs away from acknowledging that any human activity is the cause of climate change.

While Newt Gingrich does not openly deny climate science, he is vehemently opposed to any meaningful legislation or regulation to address it. In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in April (PDF), he said:

This is the wrong bill for our national security.

This is the wrong bill for our economy.

This is the wrong bill for government of, by, and for the people.

He went on to cite widely discredited cost estimates and tout the wonders of coal and oil shale, two of the most polluting energy sources on the planet. This is not an all of the above strategy as Gingrich would like to claim. The emphasis is drill here, drill now, more of the same.

Bobby Jindal's press secretary released the following statement in September 2009:

"Governor Jindal has made it clear he believes that the House passed cap and trade bill punishes the American energy industry and that's the last thing we need to do when we are trying to become more energy independent. The legislation will make it harder to create new manufacturing jobs in the US, and the Governor opposes it."

In a March 2001 memo to Vice President Dick Cheney (PDF, page 17), then energy industry lobbyist Haley Barbour urged the Bush administration not to let environmental initiatives trump sound energy policy. Specifically, he wrote:

A moment of truth is arriving in the form of a decision whether this Administration's policy will be to regulate and/or tax CO2 as a pollutant. The question is whether environmental policy still prevails over energy policy with Bush-Cheney, as it did with Clinton-Gore. Demurring on the issue of whether the CO2 idea is eco-extremism, we must ask, do environmental initiatives, which would greatly exacerbate the energy problems, trump good energy policy, which the country has lacked for eight years?Most Americans thought Bush-Cheney would mean more energy and more affordable energy.

Go To Homepage

Popular in the Community