Climate denial is common in the now fully Republican-controlled 114th Congress, where 56 percent of congressional Republicans refuse to accept the reality of basic climate science. The situation is similar in the statehouses and governors’ mansions across the country. According to a fresh analysis CAP Action conducted of public statements from the current slate of governors on climate change, half of America’s Republican governors agree with the anti-science caucus of Congress.
Click on any state in the map below to be taken to a description of what we know about the climate and energy records of its governor.
The nation’s governors are categorized into four groups below. Green governors not only accept climate change science but are proactively implementing policies to fight climate change and prepare their states for the impacts of extreme weather. Orange governors either accept climate science or have not openly denied it but also either have mixed climate and energy records or have not yet taken serious action to help their state prepare for its impacts. If a governor has made no public statement on climate science, has not taken action, or has openly objected to federal safeguards that help blunt the impacts of climate change, they are placed in the red category. Governors who deny the reality of mainstream climate science are added to the red “Climate Deniers” category, further marked by striped lines. Governors who were elected in 2014 are ranked, for now, on any statements they have made on the campaign trail; those rankings may change as their first terms develop.
You can compare this most current guide to last year’s guide to see the impact of the 2014 midterms. This guide will be updated as new information arises.
Governor Jerry Brown (D)
California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has made climate change a primary focus of his administration as he enforces AB 32, the state’s cap-and-trade system. In 2013, he signaled he would not wait for Congress to act on climate by joining the leaders of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia in signing the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, which aims to unite their efforts in combating climate change. He also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s top climate negotiator that pledges to work together on sharing low-carbon strategies and create joint ventures on clean energy technologies. In order to expand renewable energy, Brown signed pioneer legislation that allows customers of the state’s three largest utilities to purchase up to 100 percent clean energy. He’s also signed multiple clean energy bill packages into law and expanded the Renewable Portfolio Standard to make California’s standard among the most aggressive in the country. While he has signed legislation into law that allows fracking in California, the law imposes strict regulations on the oil and gas industry, including requiring companies to disclose which chemicals they use in the fracking process. Governor Brown won re-election in 2014 and during his inauguration for his final term, called for “sweeping changes” to fight climate change. He laid out ambitious targets for the state’s renewable energy development, calling for 50 percent renewable power in the next 15 years.
Governor Dan Malloy (D)
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy (D) believes climate change is one of the most challenging and pressing issues of our time. As Governor, he created the Connecticut Shoreline Resiliency Fund, a low-interest loan program for state residents who are subject to coastal flooding and would like to elevate their homes. He signed into law the nation’s first full-scale clean energy finance bank to increase private investment in renewables and expanded Connecticut’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to help move the state away from dirtier fuels. Governor Malloy won re-election in 2014.
Governor Jack Markell (D)
As Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell (D) has been outspoken about his acceptance of mainstream climate science. When commenting on the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Markell said, “There are still people who may say this storm or that storm is not related to general climate change. I can tell you when we had a number of communities flooded out in Delaware…and when you have leading scientists talk about the linkage between climate change and that flooding, people are in a position where they may more be receptive to listen.” Markell has worked to expand renewable energy in the state, signing into law a Clean Energy Jobs package that expanded Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and strengthened the solar net metering program. Along with the Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Markell asked the federal government to contract for future offshore wind energy in order to help start the offshore wind energy manufacturing industry in the Mid-Atlantic region. Governor Jack Markell is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2016.
Governor David Ige (D) GREEN
As a state senator, newly-elected Governor David Ige (D) helped pass legislation to create the Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability to help mitigate risks from natural and man-made hazards and develop adaptive plans for climate change. As governor, he has promised to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil by “modernizing the electrical grid, determining the proper mix of fuels at affordable cost and working with the counties to reduce fossil fuel use in ground transportation.” Governor Ige has also said he will move for the Department of Health to create rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Governor Mark Dayton (D)
Governor Mark Dayton (D) agrees the climate is changing and having impacts on Minnesota. Minnesota Public Radio reported that in response to a question about climate change, Dayton said the state’s strategy should include an eventual elimination of coal-burning power plants as Minnesota needs to move toward less-polluting sources of energy, such as wind and solar. He said the availability and price of natural gas makes it possible to set a goal of getting rid of coal as a source of electricity. In 2013, Dayton signed an economic development bill that contained several powerful incentives for solar development in the state. In late 2014, the governor announced the construction of a $25 million solar project that will generate 20 percent of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Governor Dayton won re-election in 2014.
Governor Maggie Hassan (D)
Governor Maggie Hassan (D) has said “the science behind climate change is incontrovertible,” and in 2013, signed two bills into law to help lessen the impact of climate change in New Hampshire. The bills aim to give more power to state and local governments to prepare coastal communities for sea-level rise, and include the creation of a new Coastal Risk and Hazard Commission. She also signed into law two bills that strengthen New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by lowering the carbon pollution cap for power plants. Governor Hassan won re-election in 2014.
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D)
In an op-ed, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said that climate denial is distracting us from addressing its inarguable effects. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Governor Cuomo outlined a plan on how New York could start to prepare for the impacts of climate change by investing federal disaster aid on items like high-tech weather stations and seals for entrances to subway stations. He announced more than 1,000 projects that will better prepare the state for storms, which includes rebuilding tidal wetlands, upgrading the electrical grid, and buying homes that are at a high risk of flooding. He has also proposed revised rules to further reduce pollution from power plants by lowering the emissions cap under the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). In February 2014, Cuomo announced the opening of the New York Green Bank, which will “stimulate private sector financing and accelerate the transition to a more cost-effective, resilient and clean energy system.” He also launched the NY-Sun Initiative, which aims to double the amount of customer-sited solar power installed annually. Cuomo committed $1 billion to the program over 10 years and more recently announced a $94 million investment by New York State and private investments totaling $375 million. After a five-year study on the potential impacts of fracking, Governor Cuomo banned the controversial practice in the state of New York, a move that has been popular among his constituents. Governor Cuomo won re-election in 2014.
Governor John Kitzhaber (D)
Governor John Kitzhaber (D) has called climate change a “central issue of our time.” In 2013, he signaled he would not wait for Congress to act on climate by joining the leaders of California, Washington, and British Columbia in signing the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, which aims to unite their efforts in combating climate change. Kitzhaber signed a bill into law that preserved the state’s successful Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and in 2012, created a 10-Year Energy Action Plan to boost renewable fuels and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. After realizing he would not be able to convince the legislature to keep Oregon’s clean-fuels program, he ordered a stricter fuel requirement to move forward anyway. He also put himself at odds with the president when he challenged the administration’s policy of supporting increases of exports of American coal because of the consequences it would have on climate change. Governor Kitzhaber won re-election in 2014.
Governor Tom Wolf (D)
Unlike his predecessor, newly-elected Governor Tom Wolf (D) believes in climate change. According to his campaign website, “Tom knows we need to remove the politics from the discussion about climate change and global warming… As governor, Tom will promote policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy alternatives, and invest in green energy technology and infrastructure.” Then-candidate Wolf also promised to try and move the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). As reported by ThinkProgress, “To bring the state into RGGI, Wolf will have to go through the Republicans that still control its legislature. But if he’s successful, the move would double the size of RGGI’s market and massively boost the system’s political legitimacy. Most importantly, it could mark a turning point for climate efforts in the United States as a whole.”
Governor Gina Raimondo (D)
When running for governor, Governor Gina Raimondo (D) said, “we must do everything we can now to adapt to an environment transformed by climate change, and mitigate the impact that it will have on our state.” Similar to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy’s clean energy finance bank, Governor Raimondo has said she is interested in creating one for the state of Rhode Island. The green bank would allow the government and the private sector to work together to fund renewable energy development.
Governor Peter Shumlin (D)
“We will not join the others in the denial, in the pretend, in the ‘let business happen as usual,’ because our kids and our grandkids mean more to us than our own greed,” Governor Shumlin (D) said in 2011. “And we’re going to get off oil and move forward as quickly as we know how.” Governor Shumlin has worked to expand solar net metering, signed into law the nation’s first ban on fracking, and has openly stated his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Governor Shumlin won re-election in 2014.
Governor Jay Inslee (D)
Governor Jay Inslee (D) has said the science is clear — climate change is happening and the state of Washington has already experienced negative economic impacts. As his first official act as governor, he wrote a letter to a clean energy company inviting it to relocate to Washington. In 2013, he joined the leaders of California, Oregon, and British Columbia in signing the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, which aims to unite their efforts in combating climate change. Signaling he would not wait for Congress to act, Inslee signed an executive order in early 2014 that creates a task force on reducing carbon pollution and directs it to design a “cap-and-market” program to meet emission reduction goals. The directive also orders state agencies to eventually eliminate the use of coal, spur development and the use of renewable energy, and develop a “smart building program” to increase energy efficiency. In late 2014, he announced his plan to impose a tax on carbon emissions for Washington’s major polluters, earning the state about $4.8 billion in income. Inslee also asked the Obama administration to review the climate change consequences of leasing and exporting Western coal, saying it will be the “largest decision we will be making as a state from a carbon pollution standpoint.” Governor Jay Inslee is up for re-election in 2016.
Governor Bill Walker (I)
Newly-elected Governor Bill Walker (I) has said that “Alaska is ground zero for climate change.” He adds that as governor, he will “look for economic opportunities that may be created by this change, such as a northern port development…” Walker supports expanded drilling operations in Alaska, including allowing access to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and opposes the proposed Pebble Mine.
Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Elected in 2014, Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) has said climate change is happening and believes the science: “Clearly, there’s dramatic things happening. I believe the science. Let’s continue to gather data and follow the science.” But while he believes in the science, he doesn’t support government action to blunt the disastrous impacts. While running for governor, Hutchinson said he would push for Arkansas to join a lawsuit challenging the president’s plan to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. “As governor, I will cause Arkansas to join the 12 other states…in challenging the new burdensome EPA rules as being a federal overreach, as hurting Arkansas ratepayers, hurting our industrial growth and I will fight for Arkansas in opposing these new EPA rules.” An analysis by the League of Conservation Voters found that during his four years as a representative in Congress, he cast pro-environment votes on just 13 percent of key issues.
Governor John Hickenlooper (D)
Colorado Governor Hickenlooper has said humans are contributing significantly to climate change and that to reverse it will take “a concerted effort, not just on the part of the United States, but worldwide.” Hickenlooper spearheaded efforts and signed into law first-of-their-kind limits on methane — a potent climate pollutant — from oil and gas production. As a former petroleum geologist, he’s been a big supporter of the oil and gas industry in Colorado. He appointed an industry campaign donor to oversee the oil industry. In 2012, he appeared in paid advertising supporting the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry lobby and trade group which has a history of fighting health and safety standards. He has even drank fracking fluid to prove there was no risk to human health. More recently, he compromised an 11th-hour deal to keep contentious oil and gas measures off the November 2014 election ballot. Hickenlooper has also developed a troubling record of opposing protections for at-risk wildlife in oil and gas producing areas, including the lesser prairie chicken, the Gunnison sage grouse, and the Greater sage grouse. Despite his close ties with the fossil fuel industry, Hickenlooper has been a proponent of renewable electricity, and signed a bill that doubled the renewable power target for rural electric cooperatives. Governor Hickenlooper won re-election in 2014 and this will be his last term.
Governor Terry Branstad (R)
Republican Governor Terry Branstad believes that climate change is happening but has expressed hesitation on acting. “We need to recognize this climate change issue is a global issue,” he told to Politico. “We also need to respect as we try to deal with that on an international basis the need for our country to be competitive and be able to attract good-quality, high-paying jobs. I think we’ve got to be open at looking at all kinds of things we can do to be energy independent and also keep our energy costs reasonably low,” he added. As governor, he has been a big proponent of the state’s burgeoning wind industry, even reprimanding fellow Republicans who are against supporting the industry. Along with North Dakota, Iowa now uses wind power for more than 25 percent of its total electricity production, the most in the nation. Yet with regard to the president’s plan to regulate carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants, a spokesman for the governor said he is concerned the EPA’s “latest unilateral, ideological action” will hurt Iowa consumers and cost jobs. Governor Branstad won his sixth bid for re-election in 2014.
Governor Steven L. Beshear (D)
“My administration recognizes the need to address greenhouse gas emissions from all sources and has supported a diversified energy portfolio, including measures to improve energy efficiency, expand use of renewables, and promote carbon capture and storage and other low-carbon technologies,” said Governor Steven Beshear (D). In 2013, he created the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, which will develop a plan to address climate change. He stood up to climate deniers and signed into law Next Generation Science Standards, which provide standards for science education that include the teaching of climate science and evolution. While he has been outspoken about acting on climate, Beshear joined six other governors in urging the president to drop proposed EPA rules to limit carbon pollution from coal plants. He is also fighting the EPA on new protections against smog, writing a letter to the president urging him to block the new proposed standards. Governor Beshear is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2015.
Governor Larry Hogan (R)
Newly-elected Governor Hogan (R) has indicated multiple times that he is not sure if humans contribute to climate change. However, in June of 2014, he said “There’s no question that the climate is changing, and I do think that man…does have something to do with the problem.” However, he does not think that a small state such as Maryland can do much to help blunt the impacts. ClimateProgress reached out for clarification, but did not immediately hear back from the governor’s office. Governor Hogan also seems likely to support fracking in the state, saying he would “want to make sure that [fracking] is done in an environmentally sensitive way, and that we take every precaution possible.” As ThinkProgress reported, “Hogan’s choice of [Ben] Grumbles as environment secretary embodies the nature of that quote: that fracking likely will happen, but with some precautions. Grumbles was heavily involved with fracking while serving as an EPA administrator under Bush, most notably overseeing the release of a 2004 report that determined the controversial process was safe for drinking water. That report was eventually used by the Bush administration to pass a law that prohibited the EPA from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.”
Governor Charlie Baker (R)
Newly-elected Governor Charlie Baker (R) has flip-flopped on his belief in climate change. According to The Boston Globe, Governor Baker privately expressed doubt on climate science during a meeting with environmentalists when he ran for governor in 2010. “The advocates say the meeting with Baker in 2010 turned tense quickly, as the Republican candidate held forth in front of a whiteboard on why he believed climate change was not the result of human causes, a view at odds with most climate scientists.” Now, Baker has reversed his position, acknowledging that humans contribute to climate change, and says he recommends “reducing our carbon footprint.” In his first weeks as governor, he elected a “controversial” new energy team, according to The Boston Globe. “An unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress who campaigned against government regulations, a former lobbyist for the region’s fossil fuel industry, and a senior executive at one of the state’s largest power companies will oversee energy policy for Governor Charlie Baker…”
Governor Rick Snyder (R)
Governor Rick Synder (R) ran on a conservation platform, earning him a 2010 endorsement from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV). The governor has said climate change is happening, but questions whether humans are causing it: “Is that relevant or not? No. We have an issue. We need to address it.” The governor spoke out against a 2012 ballot measures that would have required the state’s utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, saying he had concerns about the financial viability of using wind, solar, hydropower, and biomass to meet Michigan’s energy needs. Towards the end of 2013, the governor indicated that his goal is to have a more comprehensive energy plan in place by 2015 that includes a reduction in coal-fired power and an increase in fracking and renewable energy. Michigan LCV issued a Midterm Report Card for 2011-2012 and gave Snyder a “C” rating, saying they’ve seen both positive and negative policies adopted by his administration. Governor Snyder won re-election in 2014.
Governor Jay Nixon (D)
Speaking on CNN’s Crossfire, Governor Jay Nixon (D) said, “Well, first of all we need to accept the science of climate change and understand we’ve got to change the world. And we all have a joint responsibility to do things to make that better.” In early 2014, Nixon signed an executive order launching the development of a comprehensive energy policy for Missouri. The Democratic governor has also endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline. Governor Jay Nixon is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2016.
Governor Steve Bullock (D)
Governor Steve Bullock said climate change is real: “In Montana, whether you’re a farmer, whether you’re a fisherman … you know that the climate is changing and we need to do something about it.” Governor Bullock has opposed any federal pollution limits on fracking, arguing states are capable of regulating the oil and gas industry, and endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would greatly exacerbate carbon pollution. He has also defended the state’s Renewable Energy Standard and signed legislation into law that would expand renewables in the state. Governor Steve Bullock is up for re-election in 2016.
Governor Chris Christie (R)
Governor Chris Christie (R) flip-flopped on climate change throughout his tenure as governor. In 2011, he acknowledged the effects humans have on climate change, but in 2013, he rejected the notion that Hurricane Sandy’s damage was worsened by climate change. A New Jersey appeals court ruled that the governor illegally withdrew the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) back in 2011, a Northeast cap-and-trade program that aims to collectively reduce carbon pollution from power plants. He said it was a “completely useless plan” and that he would “not think of rejoining it.” He also broke from other Northeast states and did not join the lawsuit to defend the EPA’s cross-state air pollution rules. His administration has been accused of going to extraordinary lengths to secure approval for a controversial gas pipeline that would benefit a top Christie political operative who was also enmeshed in the George Washington Bridge scandal. The governor has signed legislation into law that increased the number of solar renewable energy credits that electric utilities must buy. In 2010, Christie signed into law a bill that aims to facilitate offshore wind power, but his administration has recently been accused of stalling the projects. This will be Governor Christie’s last term, as he is term-limited.
Governor John Kasich (R)
“I am a believer — my goodness I am a Republican — I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change. I don’t want to overreact to it, I can’t measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us and I want to make sure we protect it,” Governor John Kasich (R) said at an energy conference hosted by The Hill. In 2012, he pushed a major rewrite of Ohio’s energy policies that in his words, accounted for newly accessible shale gas and embraced Ohio’s renewable energy and efficiency targets as “vital to the state’s economy.” In June 2014, he signed a bill passed by the state legislature that would freeze the Renewable Energy Standard, despite its popularity among Ohioans and industry. In 2011, he also signed a bill 70 percent of Ohioans opposed that opened up state parks and other public lands to drilling and fracking. Governor Kasich won re-election in 2014.
Governor Terry McAuliffe (D)
“The first big decision is to accept climate change is real,” Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) said. “I believe humans contribute to climate change. I think it’s pretty much settled. I think the impacts are felt today.” The governor reactivated a climate change commission to advise him on how to protect Virginia, as the Hampton Roads area has been named the second-most vulnerable place to sea-level rise in the nation. In response to the economic struggles the coal industry has deal with in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe said carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology was the answer, calling jobs in CCS-equipped coal plants the “jobs of the future.” He is the only Democrat to join a coalition of governors supporting efforts to open the outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration, and has had to defend his support for a propose natural gas pipeline. This will be Governor McAuliffe’s only term, as he is term-limited.
Governor Robert Bentley (R)
Governor Robert Bentley (R) hasn’t taken a strong position on climate in the past few years, but in 2010 he said, “Now, carbon emissions, I do think, probably play a role in climate changes. I do scientifically agree with that and I do think we have to look for ways to reduce carbon emissions.” ClimateProgress reached out for a more recent comment, but did not hear back from the governor’s office. In 2012, Bentley declined to say why he signed a bill banning the UN Agenda 21 Sustainability Program, making Alabama the first state to ban the environmental treaty aimed at increasing sustainable living despite the fact it has no force of law in the United States. Bentley has joined a coalition of governors supporting efforts to open the outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration and in 2014, he expressed interest in his State of the State speech to develop the state’s highly polluting tar sands oil. Governor Bentley won re-election in 2014 and this will be his last term.
Governor Doug Ducey (R)
Some outlets have reported that newly-elected Governor Doug Ducey (R) does not believe humans are contributing to climate change but he has never explicitly said so. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not immediately hear back from the governor’s office. Governor Ducey has promised that as governor, he will “vigorously oppose federal or state regulatory proposals – particularly from the EPA with its regional haze rule affecting Navajo Generating Station, proposed rule on carbon emissions and navigable waters rule – that would drive up the cost of water and the energy required to provide it.”
Governor Bruce Rauner (R)
During a gubernatorial debate, newly-elected Governor Bruce Rauner (R) was asked about climate change and the new EPA rule to reduce carbon pollution, which he dodged by calling for more diversification of energy resources. “But I also believe we can be prudent in our energy development from more traditional resources,” Rauner said. He said that developing coal, oil, and natural gas was a “massive job creator.” ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not immediately hear back from the governor’s office. During an oil industry fundraiser, oil producers and drilling companies donated nearly $240,000 to Rauner’s campaign, where drillers and politicians supportive of fracking said they were tired of the process being held up in the state. As reported on Huffington Post, Governor Rauner has appointed a former registered lobbyist for a group that represented some of the state’s largest polluters, a “troubling sign” for citizens that he will work to protect the state from pollutants.
Governor Phil Bryant (R)
Governor Phil Bryant (R) has never said if he believes climate change science. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not hear back from the governor’s office. Bryant wrote to President Obama urging him to back off from an April 2012 Environmental Protection Agency proposed rule that would set a limit on 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide released for every megawatt of power generated by coal fired power plants, according to BussinessWeek. He also joined a coalition of governors supporting efforts to open the outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration. Governor Phil Bryant is up for re-election in 2015.
Governor Jack Dalrymple (R)
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) has never stated whether he believes climate change is underway. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not hear back from the governor’s office. Dalrymple has been outspoken about his opposition to limits on carbon pollution, stating: “The president’s plan [to reduce carbon pollution] means higher energy costs for consumers and businesses, weakened U.S. competiveness in global markets and increased unemployment at a time when the economy is still struggling.” In a state that relies on coal for 87 percent of its electricity generation, the governor has emphasized his concerns that coal plants are being singled out. The governor also announced plans to double its oil and gas pipeline capacity. Governor Jack Dalrymple is up for re-election in 2016.
Governor Nikki R. Haley (R)
Governor Nikki Haley (R) has never stated if she believes climate change is underway. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not hear back from the governor’s office. Haley has criticized the EPA’s rule to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants, saying, “This is exactly what we don’t need. This is exactly what hurts us. You can’t mandate utility companies which, in turn, raises the cost of power. That’s what’s going to keep jobs away. That’s what’s going to keep companies away.” She added that officials in Washington “stay out of the way,” according to The Charleston Post and Courier. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also kept quiet a report by a team of state scientists that outlined serious concerns about the damage the state will suffer due to climate change. Governor Haley won re-election in 2014.
Governor Bill Haslam (R)
Governor Bill Haslam (R) has never stated if he believes climate change science. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not immediately hear back from the governor’s office. EcoWatch reported that Haslam is an oilman that stands to profit from petroleum and gas development in the state: “The Haslam family of Knoxville, Tennessee has amassed a fortune from the business, Pilot Travel Centers, which the family founded in 1958. The family merged the business with Flying J in 2001 and the Haslam family continues to run the company out of Knoxville. In 2012, the Haslam family purchased Western Petroleum and Maxum Petroleum. Both companies are among the nation’s major suppliers of fuel to the gas drilling and fracking operations in the U.S. The Haslam family will also start installing natural gas fueling pump stations to some of the corporation’s fueling stations. In 2013, they plan to have 100 truck stops capable of fueling 18-wheelers with liquefied natural gas.” Though he weakly protested the veto-proof passage of a bill that would permit climate denial to be taught in schools, he has yet to make any major state-level pushes to address climate change. Governor Haslam won re-election in 2014.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D)
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) has not said if he believes climate scientists that human-induced climate change is real and happening now. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not hear back from the governor’s office. He has, however, spoken out against standards that will help combat climate change and its impacts. He has long said the White House is waging a “war on coal” and met with Obama administration officials prior to the release of federal Clean Power Plan to urge the EPA to be flexible. Despite the EPA’s promise to allow flexibility for states, the governor spoke out at a press conference against the rule, saying it was “outrageous” and that the state’s “worst fears were realized.” Coal is one of West Virginia’s primary economic resources. Tomblin also sued the EPA over its denial of new mountain top removal mining permits in the Appalachian region, stating the EPA had “overstepped its bound.” Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is up for re-election in 2016.
Governor Scott Walker (R)
Governor Walker (R) has never publicly said if he believes climate change is occurring. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not hear back from the governor’s office. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that little has been done to combat climate change under his administration. “After an intense focus on climate change under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Legislature have devoted little attention to such issues.” During his 2015 State of the State address, Walker announced he will be working with the attorney general to sue the federal government over the new EPA rule to combat carbon pollution from existing power plants. Walker has also “delivered on his campaign promise to speed up and simplify permits for environmentally sensitive activities like mining and digging high-capacity wells,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported. In the past, he has spoken to the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that denies climate science, and has tried to ban wind-powered energy from Wisconsin and exacerbate the state’s dependence on out of state coal. Governor Walker won re-election in 2014.
Rick Scott (R)
In 2010, Governor Rick Scott (R) was asked if he accepts climate science. He said “no … I have not been convinced.” Asked what he needs to convince him, “Something more convincing than what I’ve read.” He still dodges the question by stating “I’m not a scientist” and hasn’t been vocal in addressing sea level rise since the National Climate Assessment came out in May 2014. He denied requests from the New York Times to be interviewed on the subject, but told WPBF there was “absolutely” work being done on the state level to protect Florida from the effects of climate change. Gov. Scott’s beachfront property is in the path of sea level rise projections in the state, putting the governor in “one of the most vulnerable positions” in regards to rising waters, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The governor’s $9.2 million Naples mansion sits about 200 feet away from the ocean and a foot above sea level, and the sea on his stretch of beach has risen about 8 or 9 inches over the last century. Scott has done little to aid the solar industry in the Sunshine State, and he and his political action committee accepted millions from utilities during the 2014 election, which he won.
Governor Nathan Deal (R)
Governor Nathan Deal (R) previously served in the House of Representatives, where he filed a “climategate” petition against the EPA finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. Rep. Deal, along with energy companies, industry front groups, and other Republican politicians, sued the EPA in an attempt to block the agency from limiting greenhouse gases. Their argument was that climate science is a hoax. As governor, Deal said he believes in global warming, but still “doesn’t know whether or not it’s manmade,” questioning the science. As far as renewable energy, Deal said he is wary of requiring utilities to expand solar power and that green energy comes with trade-offs on reliability and cost. Governor Deal won re-election in 2014 and this will be his last term.
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (R)
In a letter addressing the president’s climate change plan, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said: “And while the degree and extent to which carbon emissions play a role in climate change is still debatable, the fact that Idaho is significantly impacted by the federal government’s actions and inactions is not.” The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Governor Otter “…complained about the federal government’s doublespeak on energy. He blamed vehicle fuel-efficiency standards for devastating wildfires, carbon emissions from those fires, declining transportation-tax revenues in the states, and for ruining salmon runs.” Governor Otter won re-election in 2014.
Governor Mike Pence (R)
When asked if he accepts climate change science, Governor Mike Pence (R) 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.” He has also been outspoken in opposing the Clean Power Plan, saying the president’s proposal to cap carbon from fossil-fuel power plants will have a “detrimental impact” on Indiana and cause electricity price spikes. Governor Pence also refused to either sign or veto a bill that would end Indiana’s state-wide energy efficiency program, which by default, became law. Governor Pence is up for re-election in 2016.
Governor Sam Brownback (R)
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) has flip-flopped on his acceptance of climate science. In 2007, as a U.S. Senator, he said that “we need to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere,” but in 2009 he embraced the “climategate” scandal, writing in a letter with fellow Republicans that climate science research is “driven more by a political agenda than a quest for truth.” As governor, he has not stated if he accepts climate science. ClimateProgress reached out for a comment, but did not hear back from the governor’s office. Before the EPA even released their rule to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants, Gov. Brownback signed a bill that asserts Kansas will make its own decisions about how to handle carbon pollution. The bill-signing ceremony took place at a local coal plant. In response to the president’s Clean Power Plan, Brownback said, “This is more of the Obama administration’s war against middle America.” While the governor has generally encouraged the wind industry and defended attacks on the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), he expressed support for slowly phasing out the policy. He later backpedalled on his comments, saying he meant to refer to the federal energy production tax credit (PTC). Hailing from the same state as the Koch brothers, Brownback has received financial support from the oil and gas giants for his entire career. Governor Brownback won re-election in 2014 and this will be his last term.
Governor Bobby Jindal (R)
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) has said he can’t be expected to know about climate science because he is “not a scientist,” a common response from politicians who skirt responsibility for taking a stance. Jindal has also demanded the EPA rescind its determination that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare and more recently, signed on to a letter to the president in protest of the new EPA Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution. A long-time ally of the oil and gas industry, Governor Jindal signed a bill that would kill a New Orleans area flood authority’s lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies. Three former Louisiana governors, State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, more than 100 legal experts, and a number of environmental groups and state politicians urged Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal not to sign the bill, which could undermine other lawsuits against oil and gas interests in Louisiana, including claims against BP over its 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster. Last year, environmental groups pointed out that Jindal had received more than $1 million from oil and gas companies and executives in state election campaigns between 2003 and 2013. Governor Jindal is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2015.
Governor Paul LePage (R)
Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) is one of the most outspoken climate deniers, and has said that “scientists are divided on the subject.” During LePage’s tenure, 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. He also tried to sneak through a proposal that would exempt the state from certain anti-smog regulations, undoing protections that have been in place for almost 25 years. Following a critical series of articles in three Maine newspapers on the administration’s work to undermine environmental protections, LePage’s office cut off those papers’ access to administration officials. A spokeswoman told them they would no longer respond to requests, even for public documents, because the newspaper’s parent company “made it clear that it opposed this administration.” Governor LePage won re-election in 2014.
Governor Pete Ricketts (R)
Newly-elected Governor Pete Ricketts (R) denies the science behind climate change, saying he remains “a skeptic” and argues he hasn’t seen proof fossil fuels are heating up the Earth. “I believe it is far from clear — despite what the other side is saying — it is far from clear what is going on with our climate.” As far as acting on climate, Governor Ricketts said that it is up to the president and the courts to decide. Governor Rickets has also argued that wind power is too expensive and coal is more affordable and has also come out in support of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Governor Brian Sandoval (R)
Asked if he believes climate scientists that humans are the main drivers of climate change, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) told Real Clear Politics, “I’m not qualified to answer that question.” He added, “Let me tell you what we’ve done, without getting to whether it’s human-caused or whatever that may be.” Sandoval signed legislation into law that shifts the state away from coal by eliminating “800 megawatts of coal-fired power generation…[and] mandates 350 megawatts of renewable energy development,” according to the Las Vegas Sun. In the interview with Real Clear Politics, he also expressed that the state will be ready to meet the new EPA standards for existing coal-fired power plants. Sandoval also signed into law a bill aimed at studying an unconstitutional plan to seize federal public lands in Nevada for state management, an idea that that is well outside the mainstream among Western voters. Governor Sandoval won re-election in 2014.
Governor Susana Martinez (R)
“I’m not sure the science completely supports that,” is Governor Susana Martinez’s (R) view on climate change science. Responding to the New Mexico Independent in 2010, she revealed that she thinks the science of climate change is an “ideological debate.” While he is no longer serving, Martinez appointed a well-known climate denier to head the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Upon taking office, she also immediately repealed the state’s regulation requiring an annual 3 percent cut in greenhouse gas pollution, saying it was a burden on industry, and stopped regulations to keep oil and gas drilling waste out of groundwater that frequently supplies drinking water. Martinez did veto a provision that would have spent New Mexico taxpayers’ money on an ill-conceived study of whether the state should seize federal public lands. Governor Martinez won re-election in 2014.
Governor Pat McCrory (R)
In a 2008 interview, then-gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory (R) was asked if he believes climate change science. His response was that “some things are out of control” and that “it’s in God’s hands.” Since then, he has admitted the climate is changing, but still shows some doubt on how much is human-caused. Since he became governor in 2013, there have been drastic changes to the state agencies responsible for addressing climate change, including the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR). The Asheboro and Randolph Courier-Tribune reported, “DENR had previously made climate change a key component in its 2009-13 strategic plan. That plan included launching a climate change initiative and forming a climate change steering committee. The strategic plan cited a ‘fierce urgency’ for dealing with climate change. But with the election of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2012, new leadership was also installed at many state agencies, including DENR. A DENR employee who worked on the Interagency Leadership Team plan, ‘Climate Ready North Carolina,’ was reassigned to new duties when the current administration took over, and she said she didn’t know who might be working on climate change.” Since that article was published in July 2013, DENR has removed links and documents containing information about climate change from its website. McCrory has also been very outspoken about his desire to open up more land and even the coast of North Carolina, a popular tourist destination that fuels the coastal economy, to drilling operations. He joined a coalition of governors that support drilling in the outer continental shelf and signed a law that lifts the state’s moratorium on fracking permits. McCrory joined 8 other governors in writing the president, asking him to delay the proposed rules to reduce carbon pollution, despite a majority of North Carolinians supporting the president’s plan. Governor Pat McCrory is up for re-election in 2016.
Governor Mary Fallin (R)
Before her 2013 “State of the State” speech, Governor Mary Fallin (R) was asked by reporters about climate change and whether the current drought in Oklahoma is evidence that change is occurring. She replied, “It’s just nature itself and the patterns that flow and so we’re going to continue to pray for rain in the state of Oklahoma and hope we that we get some relief.” The Raleigh News and Observer also reported Fallin said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has lent “a voice of logic on climate change.” Inhofe is one of the most outspoken climate science deniers, even writing a book on the subject. In early 2014, Fallin signed a bill that would charge Oklahoma residents an additional fee if they produce their own energy through solar panels or small wind turbines, standing up for the utilities over consumers. Citing concerns for ratepayers, the governor also criticized a plan by the EPA to reduce regional haze and control pollution at three Oklahoma power plants. Governor Fallin won re-election in 2014.
Governor Dennis Daugaard (R)
“I am skeptical about the science that suggests global warming is man-caused or can be corrected by man-made efforts. It’s a complex world we live in,” Governor Dennis Daugaard (R) said in 2010. He has helped increase oil and gas production in South Dakota and supports the use of hydraulic fracturing, also known as ‘‘fracking.’’ Governor Daugaard won re-election in 2014.
Governor Greg Abbot (R)
Newly-elected Governor Greg Abbott (R) has questioned the science behind climate change: “As a matter of historical fact, the climate changes. Long before fossil fuel was ever discovered and used on a large-scale industrial basis, the earth’s climate changed substantially on numerous occasions. However, many scientists believe that certain human activities impact the climate. Others dispute the extent to which any activity has a particular level of influence on the climate, which is why this matter needs to continue to be investigated.” As the former Attorney General of Texas, he sued the Environmental Protection Agency multiple times over, including a lawsuit aimed at the agency’s latest effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. He attacked the plan, saying the Obama administration was “doubling down on their job-killing agenda.” In January of 2015, the governor said he was going to try and undermine local controls, “including city regulations that protect trees, limit plastic bag waste, and regulate where fracking can occur.”
Governor Gary R. Herbert (R)
In 2009, Governor Gary Herbert (R) said, “I’ve heard people argue on both sides of the issue, people I have a high regard for. People say man’s impact is minimal, if at all, so it appears to me the science is not necessarily conclusive,” on his acceptance of climate science. Herbert signed a clearly unconstitutional measure passed by the state legislature asserting that Utah can lay claim to 30 million acres of federal lands within the state’s borders and appropriating $3 million in scarce state funds to fight that hopeless battle in court. He has also brought a lawsuit to gain state control of 12,000 miles of “roads” that cross federal parks, monuments, wilderness areas and red rock wonderlands managed by the federal Department of Interior — many of which are nothing but cow paths and nearly invisible trails. In his 2014 “State of the State” address, the governor promised to speed the transition to Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards, a move that “would lower the sulfur content of gasoline from 30 parts per million to 10 parts per million and require cleaner-burning emission controls on all new vehicles.” Herbert also asked the state air quality board to limit wood burning in high air pollution areas, and said he would require less auto travel and more mass transit travel by state employees. Governor Gary Herbert is up for re-election in 2016.
Governor Matthew Mead (R)
Governor Matthew Mead (R) is a climate science denier: “As we flew in a snowstorm tonight I was thinking about global warming,” Mead joked. “I think the world generally accepts this phenomenon. I’m skeptical. In part, I’m skeptical because I think people need to be skeptical when it comes to where we are in science.” He’s called efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions a “war on coal” and criticized the EPA rule to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. He has also emphasized the limitations of renewable energy sources: “Renewables aren’t going to get you there,” he said. “The reason I don’t think we should [have a state renewable policy] is because, as the nation’s largest exporter of energy, I think that it should be more voluntary.” It’s not surprising he is a fossil fuel booster, as he presides over a state that ranks #1 in coal production, #5 in natural gas production, and #8 in crude oil production. Wyoming was also the first state to reject new national science education standards after Mead approved a state budget that blocked them. That decision was based in part on lawmakers’ concerns that the standards teach climate change as a scientifically-accepted occurrence. Finally, Mead spoke at an event hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group known for making model legislation that has been used to target renewable energy standards. Governor Mead won re-election in 2014.
Tiffany Germain is Research Manager for CAP Action.