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The Fight With Flat-Earthers

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"The Fight With Flat-Earthers"

The Republicans on the campaign trail continue to hit President Obama for failing to act to offset high gas prices despite several conservative groups conceding that there is little a president can do to affect short term costs. Newt Gingrich’s gimmicky pledge to bring $2.50 gallon/gas has been derided by Obama, conservative commentators, and even fellow Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who called the $2.50 promise “pandering.” Yesterday, the President criticized the GOP field for parroting the same talking points used for decades and failing to offer any real solutions to solve the price spike at the pump. “There will always be cynics and naysayers who just want to keep on doing things the same way we’ve always done them,” he told supporters in Maryland, comparing the Republican candidates to “flat-earthers” and doubters of innovation. But the disconnect between Republicans and the reality of energy policy and climate science is not reserved for the campaign trail:

DOMESTIC OIL PRODUCTION IS UP: Republicans have seized on a new report from the Energy Information Administration that purportedly shows that the U.S. production of oil is slowing. In fact, even with a dip in the domestic production of crude oil on public lands last year, overall domestic production hit its highest mark since 2003. During President Obama’s first term, the number of operational oil rigs has quadrupled, more than 75 percent of potentially oil-rich wells in the gulf have been approved for exploration, and, for the first time in over a decade, we now import less than half of all the oil we consume every year. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has increased safety measures and depressed production in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. But that’s not enough for Republicans, who want to drill even more. Obama did offer one concession though: “I guess there are a few spots where we’re not drilling. We’re not drilling in the National Mall, we’re not drilling in your house. I guess we could have 200 oil rigs in the middle of Chesapeake Bay,” he said on Thursday.

WAR ON SCIENCE: The effects of climate change could be felt nationwide this winter. Almost 50 percent of the continental United States experienced extreme warm temperatures, the 4th highest number ever recorded. On Wednesday, 577 temperature records were broken in a single day, 400 of them new record highs around the country. And yet, Republicans continue to deny the severity, or even existence, of climate change. The conservative Heartland Institute is bankrolling public school curriculums designed to teach young children that climate change is not a fact. GOP presidential candidates have called climate change a “hoax,” a “conspiracy,” and “unproven” on the campaign trail. The energy industry is also spending millions to ensure a pro-oil agenda. Oil and gas spent $146 million lobbying Congress last year, and over $18 million in federal campaign contributions.

PROTECTING PUBLIC LANDS: Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) told his constituents at a town hall meeting last month that the federal government doesn’t need any more national parks, and should sell some of them off. Stearns is by no means an outcast either. Last October, presidential candidate Ron Paul made a similar claim, and last month Rick Santorum chimed in as well. Even the chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) called national monuments and wilderness areas “detriments” to local communities. That’s not what the facts show, though. In 2010, national parks accounted for $31 billion in revenue and over 250,000 jobs. Public land has always taken a back seat to private interests for Republicans, though. Whether it’s the Grand Canyon or the waters off the eastern seaboard, Republicans are perfectly content trampling over public land for the benefit of corporations and oil barons.

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