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The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus: 113th Congress Edition

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"The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus: 113th Congress Edition"

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Climate change is happening, humans are the cause, and a shocking number — over 58 percent — of congressional Republicans refuse to accept it.

163 elected representatives from the 113th Congress have taken over $58.8 million from the fossil fuel industry that is the driving force behind the carbon emissions that cause climate change. They deny what over 97 percent of climate scientists say is happening — current human activity creates the greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat within the atmosphere and cause climate change. And their constituents are paying the price, with Americans across the nation suffering 430 climate-related national disaster declarations since 2011.

In May 2013, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million for the first time in over 2.5 million years. The International Energy Agency reports that the planet is on track for an increase of 9 degrees Fahrenheit if everyone maintains the status quo. And that, according to Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, has “potentially disastrous implications in terms of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the huge economic and social costs that these can bring.” In fact, merely delaying action until 2020 will have a staggering net cost of $3.5 trillion.

The United States has already faced many severe climate-related weather events over the past few years. The president has declared 430 climate-related disasters from 2011 to March of 2014. There were a 25 extreme weather events that each caused at least $1 billion in damage, including Superstorm Sandy and overwhelming drought that has covered almost the entire western half of the United States. Combined, these extreme weather events were responsible for 1,107 fatalities and up to $188 billion in economic damages.

Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus and high costs to taxpayers, there are still elected officials in Congress who refuse to accept that climate change is happening.

Over 56 percent — 133 members — of the current Republican caucus in the House of Representatives deny the basic tenets of climate science. 65 percent (30 members) of the Senate Republican caucus also deny climate change. What this means is that they have made public statements indicating that they question or reject that climate change is real, is happening, and is caused by human consumption of fossil fuels.

This refusal to accept overwhelming scientific evidence is not just a symptom of the rank-and-file backbenchers. Members of GOP leadership and the committees that make critical decisions on national energy policy and air pollution have even higher concentrations:

  • 90 percent of the Republican leadership in both House and Senate deny climate change
  • 17 out of 22 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, or 77 percent, are climate deniers
  • 22 out of 30 Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or 73 percent deny the reality of climate change
  • 100 percent of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans have said climate change is not happening or that humans do not cause it

The campaigns of those who reject the reality of climate science are fueled by the fossil fuel industry that advocate for and drive the emissions that cause global warming.

  • The 30 climate deniers in the Senate have taken $22,578,644 in dirty energy contributions while the 70 Senators who haven’t denied the science have only taken $13,679,265 in career contributions. On average, Senate deniers took $752,621 from dirty energy while other Senators took $195,418.
  • The 133 climate deniers in the House have taken $36,318,451 in dirty energy contributions while the 293 voting members who haven’t denied the science have only taken $23,502,845 in career contributions. On average, House deniers took $273,071 from dirty energy while other members took $80,214.
  • In total, climate deniers, or 163 members, have taken $58,897,095 in dirty energy contributions while other members, or 363, have taken $35,210,844 in career contributions. On average, deniers took $346,975 from dirty energy while other members and Senators took $96,999.

Some states are sorely suffering the effects of climate change in the form of climate-fueled natural disasters even as their elected representatives take in millions from fossil fuel contributions and reject the reality of climate science:

  • 18 members of the Texas congressional delegation deny the reality of climate change. Over their careers, these members have raked in over $12.1 million from oil, gas, and coal interests. Texas has suffered 59 climate-fueled disaster declarations since 2011.
  • More than half of the Oklahoma delegation denies climate change, and together they have received over $2.8 million in fossil fuel money. Since 2011, Oklahomans have borne dozens of disasters worsened by climate change.
  • 7 members of the Virginia congressional delegation — more than half — deny climate change and together they pulled in more than $1.4 million from fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal interests. And Virginians have 8 disaster declarations to show for it.

CAP Action War Room conducted a fresh analysis of public statements from current Representatives and Senators from the 113th Congress on climate change. Here is a comprehensive list of those statements, which will be updated regularly.

This post has been updated to reflect new additions to the anti-science climate denier caucus as well as changes in percentages and fossil fuel contributions.

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27 Responses to The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus: 113th Congress Edition

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    In other words, Republicans in Congress have been bribed. There is no consequence, as too many Democrats also get campaign money from the oil companies. Democratic party leaders soften any criticism, and pretend that disagreements stem from philosophical differences.

    Mainstream media is supine on the subject, and quotes obvious oil butt boys like Inhofe and McConnell as if their opinions were serious ones.

    This has to change. Let’s hope that alternate media seizes the opportunity.

    • Superman1 says:

      Mike, “And their constituents are paying the price”. Well, it was their constituents who put them in office, knowing full well their position on climate, and only fitting they should pay the price. What’s not fitting is that those of us who are ‘climate warriors’ are also paying the price.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    What Next?

    It’ll be interesting to see what comes now.

    Given that President Obama has pretty much laid out his “vision” and program; given that all of those things will pretty much go into definitional mode, fine-tuning, and then implementation; and given that there is a long time left in his term as president, during which (it is thought) he can’t really do much else (beyond what he promised yesterday) in the way of new and larger policies (for example, an economy-wide carbon tax, a fee and dividend approach, a WWII-sized mobilization effort to transition us to a clean-energy economy); given all this, I wonder what the implications are for the sort of topics that will enjoy the most focus here on CP?

    (It’s an important question to think about.)

    Now that the President has laid things out (a deeply insufficient program, I might add), and now that most folks here have somehow managed to “accept” what was offered and have assumed that this is all that the President will be able to do, will much of the focus (for the next three years?) turn to those nasty deniers and to those folks who will try to block or slow — in the courts or via other political means — the President’s program? Put another way, now that the President has (apparently?) stated his best “offense”, are we going to fall into the uninspiring trap of going mostly on “defense” in order to protect that “offense” from being eroded? Now that “we” (most of the climate and environmental organizations) have apparently been “wowed” by the President’s speech and program, and apparently are in the process of sending him “thank you” emails, does that seem to channel us into defending what is a deeply insufficient program in the first place?

    I think that we have become un-anchored from reality — detached from it — in an important way. In essence, we’ve allowed ourselves to be pulled farther away from the anchor of physical reality (roughly represented by the idea that we should be cutting our emissions to levels that are 50 percent less than 1990 levels by 2020) and much closer to a scenario and way of thinking that we believe to be “social reality” — the “reality” of what we seem to accept as being socially/politically “possible”.

    Indeed, we’ve set the bar pretty darn low, and — amazingly! — CP has even temporarily suspended its interest and willingness to present the crucial numbers and remind us of them, front and center. How many times I have asked, recently, for CP to remind us in simple and comparable terms of the difference between cutting emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels and (in contrast) cutting them 50 percent from 1990 levels? Of course, I’m not suggesting that this immense difference has been forgotten; instead, in the interest of comfort and of being able to applaud and cheer — in the interest of “being positive” — we are simply setting aside the inconvenient truth.

    Of course the change is a matter of degree, but we are (I’m afraid) disembarking from our foundations in physical reality and adopting — buying into — some sort of circumscribed “social reality” that is offering something that is deeply insufficient to the task of addressing climate change.

    So again, are we now going on “defense” to defend an insufficient offense? Are we going to stop demanding some sort of real and effective price on carbon? Are we going to actually pretend that the U.S. is now in a credible position to “lead” the world towards a global deal to sufficiently reduce GHG emissions, when the President still cannot manage to simply say ‘NO’ to Keystone XL and when our 17 percent target is deeply inadequate?

    No, I’m not going to send a thank-you email to the President. (Call me a grump if you like.) Instead, I’ll be interested to watch and see how we — the climate movement, the environmental organizations, CP and CAP, and etc. — slowly wake up again, slowly discover that it is “the morning after”, and ask ourselves, “now what?”

    One good thing — a silver lining, of sorts — that might possibly (and should) come out of the exercise of asking ourselves that question, is this: We’ll realize that we need to do everything possible, starting now, to make sure that the next person we nominate and eventually elect as President had better be a real leader who is Deeply Committed to addressing climate change in ways that will actually be sufficient to the task.

    After all, other than continuing to critique the deniers, and other than defending against the erosion of the (insufficient) programs that the President promised, and other than making a final push to try to convince the President to deny Keystone XL, what else is there in terms of aims for the movement’s domestic (U.S.) efforts — other than to make darn sure that our NEXT leaders are the right ones and are up to the task? (Of course, there are other important aims, but that one is a central and crucial one.)

    In any case, that’s it for now. Enough said.

    Cheers and Be Well,

    Jeff

    • Lou Grinzo says:

      What else is there to do? How about get off our a**** and educate and activate other people, as many as possible from the vast number of lay people who are not currently engaged in any way with climate change?

      President Obama said in his speech yesterday:

      ” What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up and speak up and compel us to do what this moment demands. Understand, this is not just a job for politicians. So I’m going to need all of you, to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends.

      Tell them what’s at stake. Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings. Push back on misinformation. Speak up for the facts. Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future.”

      I could not agree more enthusiastically. I’ve been pushing this “educate and activate” message on my blog for a decade, and I think it’s the only way to put enough pressure on politicians, corporations, NGOs, etc. to move in the right direction.

      Yes, it’s a heavy lift.

      Yes, it will be slow going.

      Yes, right now we have no other choice.

      • prokaryotes says:

        John Cook points out that we need to use that denier tactic:

        Inform people on the science -> Repeat -> Repeat it again -> Repeat it again -> Repeat it yet again … and then again and again.

        • Superman1 says:

          PK, It takes two to Tango. The deniers approach works because it gives the audience ‘cover’ for continuing their profligate lifestyle. Who wants to hear the draconian measures required if we want to avoid the cliff?

      • Jeff Huggins says:

        Lou, if you like, I’d be happy to have this discussion with you offline; it might be productive, and in any case I’d be interested in your thoughts.

        For example, you mention in one phrase “educate and activate”. I agree with you in theory, and in many ways, and to a degree, but one of the macro problems is just what I’ve been trying to point out here. (And I don’t think that our “leaders” really see it, because they are too self-limiting and, in different ways, political.) Part of the dilemma is this: What good is it to energetically educate people — one heart and mind at a time — if it is the case that our most educated people on the subject (for example, Joe) and the activist leaders that we follow (for example, Bill), and the political leaders that WE elect and applaud (even when what they do is deeply insufficient, and we know it) are all falling way short of what actually needs to be done? To put it another way, there is a deep incongruence between what we should be doing if we really understand the problem, and what we are doing — and that applies even to the leaders of the movement and the leaders we elect and then applaud. I find it credibility-killing. If I educate my neighbor, should I educate her/him to the degree that he applauds the President and sends thank-you notes to him after efforts that culminate, after four+ years in office, in what we witnessed yesterday? Or should genuine education use Tim DeChristopher as the aim and model, because he’s one of the few leaders who is actually stepping up to the plate sufficiently? My point is this: Our actions, and what we are willing to tolerate and applaud on the part of our political leaders, are inconsistent with a genuine understanding of the problem we’re facing (climate change), and that difference is so large that it’s credibility-killing. Put another way, if you take a big-picture look at our approach, it’s incoherent: it lacks coherence; it is fairly substantially self-defeating. So, I spend some of my time trying to point THAT out to some of our so-called “leaders”, rather than trying to educate my neighbor about climate change such that, at the end of the education, he will correctly ask (in wonder), “Well, now that I understand the problem, why the heck are all of our so-called leaders tolerating and applauding programs that are so deeply insufficient that we are losing the race against time?” And the best answer I can give? “Well, that’s politics!” It’s not credible, satisfying, or sufficiently productive. There is too much going on within the movement that is self-defeating, and we should be working to improve upon that, among other things of course.

        I’m sure I have not put this very well, but I hope you get the idea. And, as I mention in my earlier comments, there is one crucial thing (among others) that we should make darn sure we do, starting today, and that is to make sure that the person we nominate and ultimately elect next time around is able and willing to genuinely commit to addressing climate change and to LEAD, for goodness sake.

        Thanks Lou. Be Well, Jeff

        • Wes Hopper says:

          I agree with Jeff. If we cheer the inadequate measures then we are complicit in the results – which will include a massive loss of human life ( a point that Obama completely ignored.) In fact, a massive loss of ocean life seems to be already underway, and without the food chain, where are we? We can’t eat natural gas and we can’t drink water that’s been fracked either. Obama gives real good speeches but when it’s time for action, he’s no Roosevelt – more like a Neville Chamberlain.

      • Adrian says:

        I agree about “educate and activate.” There are many ways to do this and the fight is happening on many fronts.

        For example, where I live, a group, including municipalities, is fighting a proposed expressway widening, in part on climate change/GHG emissions grounds and so we are making the effort to educate our state’s department of transportation about this. My own community is writing sustainability– including lowering our carbon use–into the comprehensive plan we will be using for the next ten years. My town also purchases electricity from 100% renewable sources. Prior to doing so advocates conducted enormous educational outreach among the citizenry, since the town government had to have approval for going forward with this project. I could go on, since I am involved in many of these local efforts.

        And activate? The citizens of Texas who stopped that egregious anti-reproductive rights bill provide a great, inspirational example for the rest of us!

    • prokaryotes says:

      “..what else is there in terms of aims for the movement’s domestic (U.S.) efforts..”

      Make the media report on the science – AND IF they interview oil company mouth pieces to inform on this.

      However, on the current path we will get more disasters with more wide spread impacts and loose the chance to do anything meaningful about the climate threat, the threat of our time. Consequences include social unrest as it becomes harder to buy enough food. I fail to see any positive outcome for whatever “long-term” strategy the master mind behind the denial assumes will help his agenda.
      Riots or total surveillance and all this are irrelevant a short term action which do nothing at all to combat the root cause.

      The system is hijacked by the people who cause doom. Science/nature does not care about political or economical gains or loss.

    • Superman1 says:

      The President will not go beyond what the electorate is willing to bear. Read the history of the origins of WWII; Roosevelt, starting in Summer 1941, brilliantly maneuvered the Japanese into attacking the USA. This gave him the immediate support of the majority of Americans, many of whom were decidedly neutral before the attack, and would never have supported a unilateral declaration of war. Obama would have to develop a similar strategy to garner enough of a majority for serious action; how could he do that?

  3. Jay Dee Are says:

    It’s not good for the country when one of its two major political parties is morally bankrupt and out of touch with reality. (I’m talking about you, GOP.)

    • Superman1 says:

      A more direct way of making that statement is that half the electorate are effectively outright deniers, and most of the other half are apathetic. But, hey, that’s An Inconvenient Truth; let’s not talk about it.

    • Mark E says:

      Both parties are in a deep hole of immorality.

      The GOP does not know it.

      With his speech, Obama has at least asked whether the DEMs should try to climb out.

      News at 11

  4. M Tucker says:

    These Republicans that are commonly called deniers know very well what is going on. Their denial of the science is a ploy to protect the status quo with fossil fuel interests. I call them deniers not because they deny the science but because they deny action. What they refuse to do is enact any legislation that would restrict extraction and burning of fossil fuels. They refuse to enact any legislation that would increase the price of fossil fuels. The very few that have admitted that the Earth is warming still refuse to support any legislation to limit CO2 emissions.

    You can’t ‘educate’ them into changing their minds. I think you understand it is all about the fossil fuel industry buying influence with these Republicans. Why would these fat cat tools jeopardize their bribery money? They of course would not. The Supreme Court is on the side of corporate influence peddling. You need to get used to the new paradigm. It has been institutionalized. It is now an accepted practice. Government in the United States reeks with corruption.

    But, let me ask, when will the President’s limits to CO2 emissions from existing power plants go into effect? How many years? Why that that is nearly 2020! Say hello to staggering cost.

    Let me also ask, why did the President have to order EPA to limit CO2? Why has the EPA been unable to act on its mandate to regulate CO2? How many years has it been since the Supreme Court decided that EPA did have the right to treat CO2 emissions as a dangerous pollutant? By law the EPA MUST then enact rules to protect the public form this environmental threat. But it hasn’t done anything. Not one single thing. No matter who is in charge or who the President is.

    So, even though it is not obvious and even if you cannot draw a connection between fossil fuel bribery money and the EPA, the EPA HAS been protecting fossil fuel interests just like our OBVIOUSLY corrupt Republican politicians. We have been let down by the very agency we look to for protection. This has been going on for years. No one enforces the law with the EPA. If they are ever taken to court it is to try to stop them from passing a rule. No one takes the EPA to court to force them to do their job. Apparently it takes the President to do that and it will be years before those rules go into effect.

    • Superman1 says:

      There are two types of deniers: those who deny the science of climate change, and those who deny the severity of the actions required to avoid the climate cliff. The former protect the fossil investors, and the latter protect the renewables investors. Let’s stop protecting investors and start protecting the biosphere! End all non-essential uses of fossil fuel starting NOW, as a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for saving the biosphere.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      What they most effectively deny is a future for humanity’s children, including their own. It is, without a doubt, the greatest crime imaginable.

  5. BillD says:

    I am writing to both of my Senators and my Representative in the house. Neither Sen Coats or Rep Stutzman (IN) are on the official list of “deniers” but they sure are not in favor of reducing Indiana’s immoral dependence on coal. I will try to make the case that using coal will become much more expensive in the coming decade.

  6. Jeff Howard says:

    The title of the map should refer to “delegation,” not “legislature.”

  7. Joan Savage says:

    CAP’s generation of an interactive map is a real accomplishment, but I feel uncomfortable about using the map due to some missing information. I can infer some answers from the link, but they don’t come solidly forward.

    Does the ‘dirty money’ number only reflect funds directed to a known congressional denier? I could infer a yes from the link, but I’m not sure.

    It would be useful to know the total flow of ‘dirty money’ to any and all representatives from a state, apart from just those that have been ‘bought.’

    Is the count of disaster declarations only for federal disaster declarations? The link implies a yes.

    What’s the federal dollar amount involved in the number of disaster declarations? That’s not included.

  8. PeterM says:

    The Deniers do not want regulation of anything that will impede the profits made for the upper 5% over the last 30 years.

    Politicians (mostly Republicans), but many Democrats also see regulations proposed in the reduction of emissions as a threat to ‘The American way of life’. Freedom of choice, and less economic growth.

    Looking at the map above- it clearly shows we have a long way to go, for any kind of political action to begin in addressing the problems of climate change. When the rubber hits the road- when climate conditions across the nation become so unbearable and disruptive, will we see meaningful change.

    We have not reached the point when the public will demand action. Last fall when I was working for some Democratic candidates in CT, I talked to both the ‘standard’ Democratic worker, and the ‘Green Democrat’. The standard type of Dem still could not accept the the idea of living in a world that was sustainable- one of less consumption and unlimited growth. The Green Dem understood the climate change challenges the rest of this century- and what we must do now to begin to adapt to a more volatile weather future, and a society that will be very different. The ‘Standard Dem says voters will never accept or understand that their future will be far different then the one they have become accustomed to the last 30 years.

    • Superman1 says:

      Well, if half the electorate supports deniers, and the Standard Dems don’t seem willing to make the necessary sacrifices to save the biosphere, that leaves the Green Dems, at best. So, what are we talking about here: ten percent who recognize the problem, and maybe half those willing to make some real commitment? The troops are not there to fight this battle!

      • Joe Romm says:

        Uhh, half the electorate doesn’t support the deniers. Only a small fraction does.

  9. JJ says:

    Any reason you aren’t naming names? If my state has one climate denier, I’d like to know who he is so I can work to get him out.

  10. Guy Marsden says:

    Screw politics. Screw politicians. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. It’s way past time that we ALL get of our lazy asses and DO IT OURSELVES! Here’s what I have been doing for the last 12 years:
    http://www.arttec.net/SustainableLiving/index.html