Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) broke with his own record Thursday, saying the U.S. should do everything it can to bring down carbon emissions. Coffman, who is facing a much more competitive race this year, has suddenly moved to the center on a number of issues, such as immigration and reproductive rights.
During a debate between Coffman and the Democratic challenger for Colorado’s 6th Congressional district, Andrew Romanoff, the candidates were asked about wildfires, a perennial threat in the state that many believe has gotten worse as climate change exacts a greater toll. Coffman said the biggest problem from his perspective is an overabundance of trees, according to ColoradoPols, and that the government should allow more logging. When asked specifically about climate change, he said, “I think we need to do everything we can…to bring down carbon.”
Coffman’s recent votes in the House of Representatives, however, say otherwise.
In March, Coffman voted for H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act that would have prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing regulations to limit carbon pollution from new coal-fired power plants.
In June, Coffman reacted to the Obama administration’s proposed new rules to limit the carbon pollution emitted by the nation’s fossil fuel-fired power plants by saying, “my fear is that the new EPA rules will increase energy costs, and once again, drive more manufacturing jobs to countries like China who have no environmental standards.”
And in 2009, during his first term in the House, Coffman voted against the Waxman-Markey bill that would have created a cap-and-trade program to limit carbon pollution.
At the same time he gives rhetorical backing to doing “everything we can to bring down carbon,” Coffman is still in denial about whether humans are causing climate change.
On his official House website, Coffman says “there is no question that climate change is real and has existed since the beginning of time,” but argues that “the role that carbon emissions, from human activity, have on climate change is still a subject of debate.”
Among the vast majority of climate scientists, of course, the matter is not still a subject of debate. A 2013 study of 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers found 97 percent consensus that human activity is causing climate change.
The race between Coffman and Romanoff to represent Colorado’s 6th district, where Democratic, Republican and Independent voters are all about one-third of the electorate, is expected to be one of the tightest House contests in the nation. Since Coffman first won there in 2008, the district has changed substantially. Hispanics now make up about 20 percent of the population, and immigration — another issue where Coffman has moderated his positions — is expected to be a key factor in November.