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SPECIAL REPORT

GOP Senate Candidates Oppose Climate Science And Policy

By Brad Johnson  

"GOP Senate Candidates Oppose Climate Science And Policy"

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by Brad Johnson, ThinkProgress Wonk Room Climate Editor

Updated September 29. View the original version here.

Updated October 7 with Christine O’Donnell comments.

A comprehensive Wonk Room survey of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate finds that nearly all dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution. In May, 2010, the National Academies of Science reported to Congress that “the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change” because global warming is “caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems.”

This finding is shared by scientific bodies around the world. However, in the alternate reality of the fossil-fueled right wing, climate science is confused or a conspiracy, and policies to limit pollution would destroy the economy.

Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, no one supports climate action, after climate advocate Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) lost his primary to Christine O’Donnell. Even former climate advocates Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) now toe the science-doubting party line.

Many of the Senate candidates are signatories of the Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge and the FreedomWorks Contract From America. The second plank of the Contract From America is to “Reject Cap & Trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.”

In reality, a carbon cap-and-trade market — by rewarding work instead of pollution — would increase jobs, lower electricity bills, restore American competitiveness, and forestall a climate catastrophe.


GOP SENATE CANDIDATES ON CLIMATE SCIENCE AND POLICY

ALABAMA – Richard Shelby
ALASKA – Joe Miller
ARIZONA – John McCain
ARKANSAS – John Boozman
CALIFORNIA – Carly Fiorina
COLORADO – Ken Buck
CONNECTICUT – Lisa McMahon
DELAWARE – Christine O’Donnell
FLORIDA – Marco Rubio
GEORGIA – Jonny Isakson
HAWAII – Cam Cavasso
IDAHO – Mike Crapo
ILLINOIS – Mark Kirk
INDIANA – Dan Coats
IOWA – Chuck Grassley
KANSAS – Jerry Moran
KENTUCKY – Rand Paul
LOUISIANA – David Vitter
MARYLAND – Eric Wargotz
MISSOURI – Roy Blunt
NEVADA – Sharron Angle
NEW HAMPSHIRE – Kelly Ayotte
NEW YORK #1 – Joe DioGuardi
NEW YORK #2 – Jay Townsend
NORTH CAROLINA – Richard Burr
NORTH DAKOTA – John Hoeven
OHIO – Rob Portman
OKLAHOMA – Tom Coburn
OREGON – Jim Huffman
PENNSYLVANIA – Pat Toomey
SOUTH CAROLINA – Jim DeMint
SOUTH DAKOTA – John Thune
UTAH – Mike Lee
VERMONT – Len Britton
WASHINGTON – Dino Rossi
WEST VIRGINIA – John Raese
WISCONSIN – Ron Johnson

ALABAMA

Sen. Richard Shelby, up for re-election, is equivocal on climate science:

Asked about the debate over global warming, Shelby said, “we should listen to the scientists,” although he did say there is a possibility that the current warming trend is part of a natural cycle. [Tuscaloosa News 2/21/07]

Shelby also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution: “Such legislation would place an undue burden on American business and families by greatly increasing their energy bills without producing any discernible benefit for the earth’s climate.”

ALASKA

Republican nominee Joe Miller, who knocked off sitting senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary, is a global warming denier:

We haven’t heard there’s man-made global warming.” [Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 8/23/10]

Miller is also a signatory of the Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

ARIZONA

Sen. John McCain, up for re-election, for years during the Bush presidency argued that global warming pollution was an existential threat that required a strict cap-and-trade carbon market. Now that Obama is president and climate policy is a real possibility, McCain is a global warming denier:

I think it’s an inexact science, and there has been more and more questioning about some of the conclusions that were reached concerning climate change. And I believe that everybody in the world deserves correct answers whether the scientific conclusions were flawed by outside influences. There’s great questions about it that need to be resolved. [David Anderson, 3/13/10]

Watch it:

McCain now opposes the cap-and-trade policy he once championed, and opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution.

ARKANSAS

Rep. John Boozman is in denial about man-made global warming:

“Well I think that we’ve got perhaps climate change going on. The question is what’s causing it. Is man causing it, or, you know, is this a cycle that happens throughout the years, throughout the ages. And you can look back some of the previous times when there was no industrialization, you had these different ages, ice ages, and things warming and things. That’s the question.” [KTHV Little Rock, 3/10]

Watch it:

In the same interview, Boozman claimed action to limit carbon pollution would “destroy our economy”: “We don’t need to go overboard in an effort to get that squared away and destroy our economy. And that’s what’s happening with the cap and trade bill. We’re a coal-fired state in Arkansas. You’re talking about potentially doubling our utilities. You’re talking about adding a dollar to the price of gasoline. You can imagine what that would do to the economy.”

Boozman is also a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

CALIFORNIA

Carly Fiorina is a climate change denier:

[Asked “Is climate change real?"] “I’m not sure. I think we should have the confidence and courage to test the science.” [KRON-TV, 3/18/10]

Watch it:

Although Fiorina supported cap and trade to fight global warming and create jobs in 2008, she now opposes both California’s AB 32 green economy legislation and a national cap-and-trade market.

COLORADO

Weld County district attorney Ken Buck is a global warming denier:

“I’ll tell you, I have looked at global warming, now climate change, from both sides. While I think the earth is warming, I don’t think that man-made causes are the primary factor. I am one of those people that Al Gore refers to as a skeptic.” [KBDI-TV, 3/10]

Watch it:

In October, Buck elaborated on his views:

Sen. Inhofe was the first person to stand up and say this global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated. The evidence just keeps supporting his view, and more and more people’s view, of what’s going on. [The Coloradan, 10/21/10]

Buck is also a signatory of the Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

CONNECTICUT

Wrestling executive Linda McMahon is a global warming denier:

“I think there’s evidence to the positive and to the contrary about global warming.” [Hartford Courant, 12/20/09]

Citing the Heritage Foundation, McMahon claims: “Cap-and-trade would destroy on average 13,649 jobs in CT and raise electricity prices by $927.55 per household.”

DELAWARE

Christine O’Donnell is a global warming denier:

Is global warming manmade? Does it contribute to global warming? “I don’t have an opinion on that. I would have to look at a specific piece of legislation. When it comes to cap and trade, the bill that has supposedly out there to combat climate change, I’m absolutely opposed to cap and trade because of its economic consequences.” [CNN, 10/7/10]

Watch it:

O’Donnell has attacked climate action as a “cap and tax energy scheme which would kill 6,117 Delaware jobs.” She is a signatory of the Contract From America. Her primary opponent, Rep. Mike Castle, was a strong climate activist.

FLORIDA

Marco Rubio is a global warming denier:

Rubio called Crist “a believer in man-made global warming.” “I don’t think there’s the scientific evidence to justify it,” Rubio said. Asked whether he accepts the scientific evidence that the global climate is undergoing change, he responded, “The climate is always changing. The climate is never static. The question is whether it’s caused by man-made activity and whether it justifies economically destructive government regulation.” Tampa Bay Tribune, 2/13/10]

Rubio is a signatory of the Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

GEORGIA

Jonny Isakson is a cautious global warming denier:

Science has shown us that there has been a gradual warming of the earth over the last 50 years. What is not as clear is whether the cause for this warming is man-made emissions, a cyclical warming of the planet, or a combination of both. Given the uncertainty in the science behind climate change, I believe that we should take proactive steps, both personally and as a nation, to reduce our emissions footprint.

Isakson also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution: “Cap and trade will raise the cost of energy to all Georgians, the majority of whom get their electricity from coal-fired electric plants. Such a program will tax carbon and redistribute that tax toward other programs unrelated to energy. We need incentives to reduce carbon, not taxes to punish its production.”

HAWAII

Cam Cavasso is a global warming denier:

“I support energy development that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and I oppose cap and trade (“tax”) legislation because of its false premise of global warming as well as the financial burden it places on our economy.” [Cam Cavasso]

IDAHO

Sen. Mike Crapo, up for re-election, is a global warming denier:

“While there is no dispute over the fact that the Earth’s climate has changed many times over the planet’s history, the underlying cause of these climactic shifts is ultimately not well-understood and is a matter of vigorous debate.” [Mike Crapo]

Crapo also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution: “There is not a person on this Committee who opposes a reduction in air pollution. But imposing a massive energy tax on the American people will bring more hurt than benefit.”

ILLINOIS

Last year, Rep. Mark Kirk was a believer in climate science and the need to reduce carbon pollution:

“There is now a growing scientific consensus that the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide affects average temperatures. According to the National Academy of Scientists, carbon dioxide levels rose to a high of 290 parts per million 130,000 years ago, causing a 20 degree increase in temperature. As carbon dioxide levels fell, so did average temperatures. Both Presidents Bush and their advisors recognized this long relationship and put forward their own plans to reduce the recent rapid growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide, both here and abroad.” [Mark Kirk, 7/1/09]

Although Kirk voted for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation last summer, by September he said he would oppose it as a senator.

Kirk is also a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

INDIANA

Former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats is a global warming denier:

At a candidate forum Saturday, the Republicans running for the U.S. Senate dismissed the threat of global warming, as well. Former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler called it “junk science.” State Sen. Marlin Stutzman called it a “manufactured controversy.” Former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats discussed this year’s snowstorm in Washington, D.C. [Evansville Courier & Press, 4/18/10]

Coats is also a signatory of the Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

IOWA

Sen. Chuck Grassley, up for re-election, is a global warming denier:

Well, I’d be foolish if I didn’t give — I’d be foolish if I didn’t give it some consideration because there’s a massive amount of scientists that feel that it does. But there’s also an increasing number of scientists that have doubt about it. And so, not being a scientist, I don’t know exactly where to say only those things that are really quantifiable, and temperature has risen. But the scientific aspect that I’m still reserving judgment on is the extent to which it’s manmade or natural. [Chuck Grassley conference call, 8/25/09]

Grassley also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution: “It is important for Members of Congress to recognize that since a cap-and-trade system inevitably involves increased costs for American consumers, it is in effect a national energy tax and emissions allowances represent a portion, but not all of the cost of this tax to the American people.”

KANSAS

Rep. Jerry Moran is a global warming denier:

Congressman Jerry Moran sponsored legislation this week to overturn an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule, that would make carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a danger to public health. . . .Moran also sponsored legislation in 2009 to prohibit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from being classified as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. [Jerry Moran, 3/2/10]

Moran is also a signatory of the Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

KENTUCKY

Rand Paul is a global warming denier and conspiracy theorist:

“Now Osama bin Laden had a quote yesterday. He’s says he’s after the climate change as well. It’s a bigger issue, we need to watch ‘em. Not only because it may or may not be true, but they’re making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They’ve already caught ‘em doing this.” [Rand Paul, 2/4/10]

Watch it:

Paul is also a signatory of Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

LOUISIANA

Sen. David Vitter, up for re-election, is a global warming denier and conspiracy theorist:

The real truth is getting out there, and I think citizens are really starting to push back. I think there is beginning to be a serious reconsideration of the science of this. [The Hill, 8/14/09]

Vitter also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution: “This legislation represents a new tax in the order of more than $1,700 per American household annually, and, if it’s passed, American families can expect to see considerable increases in the cost of electricity, gas, food and utilities. It is clear that most Americans families’ standard of living will be reduced if this cap-and-trade bill is approved by Congress.”

Vitter is a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

MARYLAND

In 2008, county commissioner Eric Wargotz, the winner of the Republican primary, co-signed a strong climate resolution:

Whereas, leading climate scientists agree that climate disruption is a reality and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of gases which warm the atmosphere . . . whereas measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community and within county operations have the potential to also reduce costs through energy savings and to increase the quality of life through improved air quality. [Queen Anne's County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Resolution, 12/08]

Like the other Republican candidates in the field, Wargotz now opposes cap-and-trade legislation. Wargotz is also a signatory of the Contract From America and the No Climate Tax Pledge.

MISSOURI

Rep. Roy Blunt is a global warming denier:

“There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.” [Human Events, 4/29/09]

Blunt also says that the delay of EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases are pollution should be “indefinite,” opposes a cap-and-trade market, and attempted to block greenhouse gas performance standards for new coal fired power plants.

Blunt is a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

NEVADA

Sharron Angle is a global warming denier:

“I don’t, however, buy into the whole … man-caused global warming, man-caused climate change mantra of the left. I believe that there’s not sound science to back that up.” Climatewire, 5/26/10]

Angle is also a signatory of the Contract From America.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Kelly Ayotte is a global warming denier. She squeaked past Ovide Lamontagne in a six-person primary, all of whom — Jim Bender, Gerard Beloin, Bill Binnie, Ayotte, Dennis Lamare and Lamontagne — were global warming deniers:

It was symbolic when the six Republican candidates for U.S. Senate stood up together side-by-side during a debate Wednesday. It resembled their positions on major issues. … All said man-made global warming hasn’t been proven. [Foster's Daily Democrat, 8/18/10]

Lamontagne is also a signatory of Contract From America. Ayotte, Bender, Binnie, and Lamontagne are signatories of the No Climate Tax pledge.

NEW YORK

Joe DioGuardi, challenging Sen. Kristin Gillibrand for the seat formerly held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, believes in global warming but opposes cap and trade. He defeated two candidates — Bruce Blakeman and David Malpass — who were global warming deniers.

Jay Townsend, the Republican challenger to Sen. Chuck Schumer, is a global warming denier and conspiracy theorist. He defeated fellow global warming denier Gary Berntsen in the GOP primary:

Gary Berntsen called claims that the planet is facing a serious environmental crisis “an enormous charade.” Jay Townsend said he’s “willing to believe it’s possible,” but thinks much of the science that has been presented on the subject is a “hoax” and an attempt to “perpetrate a fraud on the American people.” Berntsen said “solar flares and activity from the sun has a greater impact than man has in terms of raising the temperature,” although he admitted pollution is a problem. [YNN, 8/24/10]

Watch it:

Both Townsend and Berntsen are signatories of Contract From America.

NORTH CAROLINA

Sen. Richard Burr, up for re-election, is a cautious global warming denier:

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said he is skeptical of recent reports showing a threat of rising sea levels in his home state. [E&E Daily, 3/29/06]

Burr also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution: “While the figures vary, it is clear this massive new federal bureaucracy would lead to higher energy costs for North Carolina families and businesses with little measurable benefit for the environment.”

Burr is a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

NORTH DAKOTA

Gov. John Hoeven is a global warming denier:

“Well, the science shows that there’s warming. There’s different opinions of exactly what’s causing it.” [Senate Environment and Public Works Hearing, 7/21/09]

Hoeven also opposes EPA limits on greenhouse pollution and opposes cap-and-trade legislation: “cap and trade will only hold back energy development and raise energy prices for hardworking American families.”

OHIO

Rob Portman is a global warming denier:

“When you analyze all the data, there is a warming trend according to science,” he said. “But the jury is out on the degree of how much is manmade.” [Columbus Dispatch, 7/25/10]

Portman also opposes the EPA “power grab” finding that greenhouse gasesare pollution and opposes cap-and-trade legislation: “There’s a new energy tax coming our way from Washington that’s a job-killer for Ohio, called cap-and-trade.”

OKLAHOMA

Sen. Tom Coburn, up for re-election, is a global warming denier:

Coburn asked how many in the audience thought that climate change was manmade. A minority of the attendees raised their hands. Coburn then asked how many had read the science, and about two-thirds of those hands went down. He then asked how many did not believe climate change was manmade, and a majority of attendees raised their hands. He asked how many had read the science, and roughly half the hands went down. “I am not the smartest man in the world,” Coburn said. “But I have been trained to read scientific documents, and it’s malarkey.”
[Sooner Tea Party, 8/25/09]

Coburn opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution: “There’s a new energy tax coming our way from Washington that’s a job-killer for Ohio, called cap-and-trade.”

Coburn is also a signatory of the Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

OREGON

Jim Huffman is a global warming denier:

He casts doubt on scientists’ findings about global warming. It’s “rooted in some fairly vague science,” he says. “There are a lot of studies out there that offer alternative explanations for global climate variations.” Huffman opposes a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, largely because it will be too expensive. He argues that it’s more realistic to adapt to climate change than disrupt peoples’ lives trying to prevent it. If some island nations become uninhabitable, he says, “I think that’s a tragedy, but we can adapt to that.”[Portland Tribune, 9/2/10]

Huffman is a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pat Toomey is a global warming denier:

“There is much debate in the scientific community as to the precise sources of global warming.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/14/10]

Toomey opposes a cap-and-trade market to reduce global warming pollution, claiming it is an “energy tax” that “would cost Pennsylvania 66,000 jobs over the next ten years.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

Sen. Jim DeMint, up for re-election, is a global warming denier:

It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle.’” [Twitter, 2/9/10]

DeMint also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to limit global warming pollution: “And if the president passes the health care he wants to go straight to cap and trade, which is a huge tax on electricity and energy in our country.”

DeMint is a signatory of the Contract From America.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Sen. John Thune, up for re-election, is a global warming denier:

“The emails made public by the House Energy and Commerce Committee show a high ranking EPA official apparently suppressing scientific views that run counter to the Obama Administration’s determination to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses,” said Thune. “As Congress considers costly climate change legislation that has the potential to reshape our entire economy, a robust debate on the issue is necessary.” [John Thune, 6/30/09]

Thune also opposes the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are pollution and opposes a cap-and-trade market to limit global warming pollution: “The increased utility and fuel costs that would result from cap and trade legislation, as proposed by President Obama, would equate to a national sales tax on energy that would affect every family in America.”

Thune is a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

UTAH

Mike Lee is a signatory of Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.

VERMONT

Len Britton supports major subsidies for nuclear power and opposes “environmentally harmful resources such as coal and natural gas,” but has taken no public position on the science of climate change or policy to limit greenhouse pollution.

WASHINGTON

Dino Rossi is a global warming denier:

Rossi’s campaign said he believes Earth is warming but isn’t sure how much humans are to blame. [Seattle Times, 7/11/10]

“Where am I on global warming? The – I mean it’s clear the earth, the earth is warming, it is clear, I mean, I think if you count how many feet of ice we were under many, many, tens and hundreds of millions of years ago right where we are standing right here. It has been warming and it will continue to warm. Apparently we’ve hit, we’ve hit the same temperature that it, that it had increased to in about, uh twelve hundred AD I think it was. So I mean it was warmer then too. There are cycles. There are things that we can do obviously to, to make sure that the environment is clean. That the air is clean, that the water’s clean, all those sorts of things that need to be done. I think you also need to make sure that you look at the real science of this too and make sure that it makes sense. And so there’s still a lot of debate going on this, we see it out there and there’s going to be a big debate going on for the next two, three years. Um because there are you know, I’ve listened to other scientists who disagree with and I know why are people even going to be bothering about long term planning if Al Gore says the world is going to end in ten years or fifteen years, but there are a lot of scientists that disagree. So I mean, we’ll see how this debate goes, but I don’t think anyone should panic at this point.” [HorsesAss.org, 3/18/07]

“”Well as scientists and pseudo-scientists argue this out, let me tell you what I won’t do. I’m not going to do what Patty Murray is doing and arguing for an energy tax.” [Seattle Times, 8/4/10]

Rossi also opposes cap-and-trade as a “job-killing national energy tax.”

WEST VIRGINIA

Mining and media magnate John Raese is a global warming denier:

“I’m somebody that believes and knows what a farce cap and trade is. And if you have one volcano in the world that one volcano puts out more carbon dioxide than everything that man puts out.” “I don’t think [global warming is] a farce, but I think temperatures go up and I think temperatures go down. But does man have anything to do with it?” [Charleston Gazette, 7/22/10]

Raese is a signatory of the No Climate Tax pledge.

WISCONSIN

Ron Johnson is a global warming denier:

“I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity, or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.”[Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 8/19/10]

Watch it:

Johnson also “opposes the job-killing ‘Cap and Trade’ bill which is a crippling national energy tax.”

Johnson is a signatory of Contract From America and the No Climate Tax pledge.