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New Jersey Senate Candidate Dismisses Climate Change Warnings As ‘Silly Hysteria’

For New Jersey’s likely Republican nominee for Senate, it’s not enough that 97 percent of relevant scientific studies agree that man-made climate change is occurring. To him, warnings of the impacts of increasing temperatures are just “silly hysteria.”

Tea Party candidate Steve Lonegan, former Mayor of Bogota, N.J., shot back at a video Democratic candidate Rush Holt’s campaign made on climate change, in which Holt calls the consequences of a warming planet “lethal” and comes out in favor of a carbon tax. Lonegan, who is likely to win the Rebublican nomination for Senate but is a long-shot against Democratic favorite Cory Booker, quickly crafted a press release condemning Holt’s remarks:

Congressman Holt is attempting to salvage his long-shot candidacy with this ultra-left-wing idea of cap and trade that, if implemented, would force New Jersey’s working families to pay higher taxes for energy, and drive more American jobs overseas.

I signed the No Climate Tax pledge because I oppose the idea of making consumers pay more to fight the silly hysteria that Congressman Holt puts forward in his web video. Unfortunately, all the candidates on the Democrat side, along with President Obama, support this view.

Though Holt’s video calls for a carbon tax, not a cap and trade system, Lonegan’s remarks are still misleading. Economists have suggested ways to make a carbon tax less costly for the middle and lower class; a well-designed carbon tax can create jobs, rather than driving them overseas; and 56 percent of Americans would prefer using a carbon tax to help reduce the deficit, according to one poll. The No Climate Tax pledge referenced by Lonegan was created by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and has been linked to climate inaction in congress. As former state director of the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity, Lonegan’s opposition of climate change policies — particularly a carbon tax — isn’t surprising.

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Scientists, on the other hand, have stood behind Holt’s scientific views. In a letter released on Tuesday, 65 of the U.S.’s leading scientists, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, announced their support for Holt, calling him a “rare and outspoken voice for evidence-based thinking in the U.S. Congress.” Though not as outspoken about it as Holt has been, Booker also lists climate change legislation as something he’d support in congress. New Jersey faces serious risks from climate change, and the state’s failure to adequately prepare for extreme weather in the years before Superstorm Sandy was a costly mistake.