CREDIT: AP/Steve Nesius
David Jolly, a lobbyist-turned-Republican nominee for Florida District 13’s congressional seat, is following the well-worn Republican path of denying climate change science.
Jolly told the Tampa Bay Times that he thinks people have some impact on the climate changing over time. But he dismissed the issue as not very serious, suggesting climate change is a political ploy that requires no federal action. “I don’t think the impact that humans have had on our climate is so dramatic that it requires a significant shift in federal policy.” He went on to say, “I don’t believe it changes in such a fashion that it requires what we’ve seen out of Washington, which is this reactionary global warming public policy.”
The issue puts him at odds with Democratic candidate Alex Sink, who has pointed to “the overwhelming scientific evidence” of global warming. Jolly struck the same tone as Florida Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Jeff Miller, and Bill Posey (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R), who have said they know better than a near-unanimous field of scientific studies.
The impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather on Florida’s economy and infrastructure, are not distant hypotheticals. At issue is not whether Florida will be hurt by climate change, but how best the state can mitigate the consequences. One study shows that rising seas and worsening extreme weather could cause Florida to lose up to $345 billion by the end of the 21st century.
Jolly’s lobbying record at Three Bridges Advisors includes having represented fossil fuel interests. Jolly now says he opposes drilling off the coast of Florida, where offshore drilling is banned and unpopular among voters. But records show he has also lobbied on behalf of the Free Enterprise Nation for an energy bill that would have opened the Eastern Gulf Coast to drilling. His name was the primary contact listed on a 2011 Free Enterprise Nation lobbying report and Jolly wrote a separate blog post in support of the proposal favoring offshore drilling. His campaign still denied that Jolly lobbied for the House bill, the Roadmap for America’s Energy Future, in any significant way.
But the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board wrote that if Jolly hopes to represent a coastal district on these issues, he needs “to go back to [his] science books and learn some facts, not just talking points.”