On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings to provide an “update” on climate science. While presumably the Senators will discuss the new Koch-funded study that changed a prominent climate change “skeptic’s” mind, the Republicans on the Committee probably won’t want to hear it.
Almost to a man, the GOP Senators on this key committee have consistently denied the brute fact that humans are causing climate change and/or worked to obstruct any possible solution to the mess we’re making:
1. James Inhofe, Oklahoma: Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Committee, is one of America’s most famous climate deniers. He has written a book alleging that climate science is a conspiracy “perpetrated” by the United Nations and that any climate change that is happening is part of God’s irreversible plan for the Earth. When confronted with the fact that 97% of climate science accepted anthropogenic warming, he – surprise! – denied it.
2. David Vitter, Louisiana: Vitter has referred to evidence for climate change as “ridiculous pseudo-science garbage” and, though his home state was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and is at serious risk from future warming-caused storms, attempted to block federal funding for efforts to mitigate the worst byproducts of global warming.
3. John Barrasso, Wyoming: Barrasso appeared on Glenn Beck’s show to suggest he had a “smoking gun” suggesting the attempt to regulate CO2 emissions was simply an EPA power grab. Relatedly, Barrasso claimed the EPA’s main goal was no longer protecting the environment, but rather “remaking society,” and introduced legislation stripping the agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions.
4. Jeff Sessions, Alabama: Senator Sessions reserved his strongest ire for congressional regulation of carbon pollution, calling cap-and-trade a “conceit” that “we can manage the climate.” He has also, in the process of denying the moral importance of addressing the consequences of global warming, described CO2 as “a naturally occurring gas that plants breathe and they can’t grow without” as if that were some sort of evidence that it couldn’t harm the environment (which, of course, it isn’t.)
5. Mike Crapo, Idaho: Crapo’s official website features a page full of misinformation about climate science, claiming among other things that “the underlying cause of…climactic shifts is ultimately not well-understood” and implying that “[n]atural factors such as solar activity, volcanic eruptions and orbital changes” may explain our current period of warming (nope). He has also decried air pollution and then, in the same breath advocated expanded oil drilling in the United States.
6. Mike Johans, Nebraska: Like his compatriots, Johans has rejected the scientific consensus of anthropogenic warming, calling it “contested science.” Johans was also the author of a procedural maneuver designed explicitly to block the majority from overriding Republican obstructionism on cap-and-trade.
7. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee: Alexander is a comparative standout from the group – he believes climate change is both real, anthropogenic, and a serious problem – but that’s only if you’re grading on a curve. He opposed cap-and-trade but voted to block the EPA from regulating emissions because “that’s Congress’ job.” Though he appears to think a carbon tax is a somewhat better alternative, he has dithered on any real action to try to implement it.
There’s nothing about being a Republican or a conservative that requires legislators to be this blinkered about the climate change crisis: Former GOP Representative Bob Inglis recently founded an initiative to develop and push Republican ideas for pricing carbon.
Unfortunately, the vitriolic reaction to similar ideas from the Republican establishment and the views of the GOP leaders most responsible for establishing the party’s position on the global warming crisis suggests that we’ll have to wait for some time for Republican sanity on climate change.