In the eyes of one candidate running for office in Washington, environmentalists aren’t the ones looking to solve the country’s energy problems — they’re the ones at fault for them.
George Cicotte, a Republican candidate for Washington’s fourth congressional district, said at a candidate forum Saturday that if environmentalists hadn’t “stopped nuclear in its tracks” in the 1970s, there would be a lot less greenhouse gas pollution today.
“Really, when we talk about energy problems, most of the energy problems are caused by environmentalists,” he said.
Cicotte’s comments came as part of a longer statement on his views on environment and energy issues, during which he spoke of his “all of the above” energy preferences but made comments that were dismissive of wind energy — a resource he claims to support on his campaign website.
“Wind energy? I’ll be honest — give me a break,” he said. “There would not be a single windmill in this entire state were it not for tons of irrational federal government spending. They’re trying to light a brush fire for wind and it ain’t working.”
Though wind isn’t Washington’s main source of renewable energy — that distinction belongs to hydroelectric power, which provides 60 percent of the state’s energy — it does provide 6.2 percent of the state’s energy. Washington also ranks 9th in the country for the number of utility-scale wind turbines, and 14th in the country for percent of wind generation.
Cicotte also referenced the Bible during his response to an energy-related question, saying that the planet was “put here for the benefit of man” and that though humans have the responsibility to be stewards of the Earth, conservatives as a whole “don’t think of the environment as sacred — it’s here for our use.”
But though Cicotte drew on what he thinks of as Biblical principles to back up his environmental views, not all Christians think the planet was created for humans to use however they wish. The Evangelical Environmental Network has pushed climate change as an issue conservatives should care about, especially conservative Christians. And in 2013, 200 self-identified evangelical scientists sent a letter that urged Congress to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment, using Biblical references to back up their argument.
“Our changing climate threatens the health, security, and well-being of millions of people who are made in God’s image,” the letter read. “The threat to future generations and global prosperity means we can no longer afford complacency and endless debate. We as a society risk being counted among ‘those who destroy the earth’ (Revelation 11:18).”
Cicotte’s statements on Earth’s purpose also ignore the threat climate change poses to Washington, a state that’s battled numerous wildfires in the past few weeks. Ocean acidification has taken its toll on Washington’s oyster industry, with one oyster company in the state sending their oyster larvae growing operations to Hawaii due to water in Willapa Bay, WA becoming too acidic. Sea level rise, beetle infestations, and water shortages due to decreased snowpack also pose a threat to the state in coming years, according to the National Climate Assessment.
Cicotte’s press contact did not immediately respond to requests for comment.