CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that though he doesn’t feel qualified to “debate the science” of climate change, he does know that the Obama administration’s efforts to mitigate the problem are bad for the country.
“Listen, I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change,” Boehner said when asked by a reporter whether he thinks climate change is a problem, and whether he would support taking action to fix it. “But I am astute enough to understand that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs. That can’t be the prescription for dealing with changes in our climate.”
Boehner’s comments come days before the EPA is slated to release its proposed rules on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, regulations that have already drawn the ire of groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Boehner has expressed doubt that man-made climate change is occurring in the past — in 2009, he said the “idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”
“Every time we exhale,” Boehner went on, “we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know when they do what they do you’ve got more carbon dioxide.”
Carbon dioxide, for the record, is not thought to cause cancer, though you would not want to breathe in high levels of it. The gas is a pollutant because of the effect that emitting it has on the atmosphere, and human health and welfare.
Boehner in 2012 again cast doubt on man’s role in climate change.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’ve had climate change over the last 100 years,” he told USA Today. “What has initiated it, though, has sparked a debate that’s gone on now for the last 10 years.”
Boehner’s most recent choice of language, however, allowed him to skirt the responsibility of taking a side one way or another on climate change by referencing his lack of scientific background. It’s been used by lawmakers before — earlier this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has said in the past that he’s “not convinced” man-made climate change is occurring, dodged a question about climate change by saying “I’m not a scientist,” then pivoting to flood control and Everglades restoration. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has used it as well, when asked in 2012 how old he thinks the Earth is, and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin reminded West Virginians that he wasn’t a scientist when concerns over the toxicity of the chemical that polluted the drinking water of 300,000 in the state began to heighten.
Though Boehner may not trust his scientific credentials enough to take a position on climate change, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the climate change the world is experiencing is “very likely” due to human activities.