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States Of Denial

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"States Of Denial"

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More Than Half Of Republican Governors Are Climate Deniers

Here’s what we knew: Scientists are as sure of man-made climate change as they are that cigarettes kill. These changes already cause an increasing likelihood of extreme weather, pose dangerous health risks, and carry steep economic costs to taxpayers.

Here’s what we now know: Far too many governors, the people who see the impacts of climate change first hand and should be playing a leading role in their state, deny the climate science and refuse to believe that humans play a role in climate change. A CAP Action news analysis finds that of the 29 current Republican governors in the United States, fifteen — more than half — are climate change deniers. A number of others have made no public statement on climate science, have not taken action to address the issue, or have openly objected to federal safeguards that help blunt the impacts of climate change.

The map below lays this out in plain view (click here to view the interactive version). It categorizes governors into four groups: green for those who both accept climate science and are taking action to fight climate change; orange for those who either accept or haven’t openly denied climate science, but also have yet to take serious action to address climate change; red for those who have failed to take action or openly rejected to federal safeguards to address climate change; and red with stripes for climate deniers.

Here are just a few examples of some of the most backward comments and actions from governors around the country:

  • Indiana: Governor Mike Pence (R). When asked if he accepts climate change science, Pence responded, “I don’t know that that is a resolved issue in science today…just a few years ago we were talking about global warming. We haven’t seen a lot of warming lately. I remember back in the 70’s we were talking about the coming ice age.” Pence also let Indiana’s state-wide energy efficiency program die by refusing to either sign or veto a bill that would end it (by default, the bill to end it became law).
  • Maine: Governor Paul LePage (R). LePage is one of the most outspoken climate deniers, and has said that “scientists are divided on the subject.” He has argued that Maine could potentially benefit from the effects of climate change, vetoed legislation that would help the state prepare for extreme weather, blocked a bipartisan bill to expand solar power, and has attempted to dramatically reduce the state’s renewable energy standards to benefit large corporations.
  • Texas: Governor Rick Perry (R). Perry has repeatedly questioned the science behind climate change — “I think we’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.” Perry, along with energy companies, industry front groups, and other conservative politicians, sued the EPA in an attempt to block the agency from regulating climate pollution. Their argument was that climate science is a hoax.

Instead of cutting carbon pollution and investing in clean energy, the fifteen Republican governors currently ignoring science have taken more than $15 million in campaign contributions from big polluters over the course of the careers. While their governors count the campaign cash, local communities are suffering.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus and the devastating impacts of climate change, more than half of America’s Republican governors are standing with the anti-science members of Congress. These officials, and the others who are dragging their feet on the issue, need to face the facts. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants requires state leadership, and the American people — who broadly support the new rules — want them to action.

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