Speaking to the Economist recently, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) told reporters that he questions the science underpinning climate change. Pawlenty explained that while the earth might be warming, it is unclear “to what extent that is the result of natural causes.” As ThinkProgress has noted, Pawlenty has veered sharply to the right to appease a right-wing, tea party base. Although the tea party movement demands strict adherence to far right positions, as a Democracy Corps study shows, much of the movement sees political issues through a prism that is simply divorced from reality.
In appeasing the tea party base, Pawlenty not only dismisses the stark reality that human-caused carbon emissions are the largest contributor to climate change, but he also sacrifices his own credibility. Over the course of the last three years, Pawlenty has gone from an outspoken proponent of clean energy to a Glenn Beck pandering climate change denier:
Dec. 2006: Pawlenty lays out an ambitious clean energy program for Minnesotans to reduce their use of fossil fuels 15 percent by 2015. Cutting greenhouse gases, Pawlenty said, would “be good for the environment, good for rural economies, good for national security and good for consumers.” He also calls for a regional cap and trade program.
May 2007: Pawlenty signs the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, requiring the state to reduce its emissions 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent in 2050. At the signing ceremony, Pawlenty said Minnesota was “kicking-starting the future” by “tackling greenhouse gas emissions.”
Oct. 2007: Pawlenty declares that the climate change issue is “one of the most important of our time.” He also brushes off “some flak” from right-wingers who doubt climate change science.
Sept. 2008: During the election, Pawlenty backs away from his own cap and trade program, says such a system would “wreck the economy.” He then tells hate radio personality Glenn Beck (a climate change denier) that human activity only contributes “half a percent” to climate change.
Nov. 2009: Pawlenty backs away from acknowledging that any human activity is the cause of climate change.
Although Pawlenty has already earned a “Full Flop” from PolitiFact because of his cap and trade policy reversals, he deserves another for his politically motivated denials of science.