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Did He Really Say That?

17 Sep 2013  |   Intern Admin

It’s long past time for action on climate change in Congress. But too many members of Congress have gotten away with being climate change deniers for far too long.   Some attack the credibility of science, some look for other explanations for rising temperatures, some say the earth is getting colder. The one thing climate change deniers have in common is that they are looking for any excuse to avoid facing this challenge and finding solutions.

A hearing on the President’s popular plan to address climate change in the House this week will include 14 Members of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power who have made comments denying the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change.  They have a choice: deny the science of climate change and risk being viewed by voters as “ignorant” and “out-of-touch,“ or they can start to help find ways to deal with climate change, a threat that is already too real for most Americans.  Read on for what these climate change deniers have said in the past—some are funny, some are deadly serious, but all are real and reveal a troubling trend:

Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY):

Ed Whitfield: I have “many books that question global warming and the science on global warming.” During a House Energy and Power subcommittee hearing, Whitfield stated: “I might say that I only brought one of my many books that questions global warming and the science on global warming. I am delighted to see that at least one member brought a number of books. I couldn't get all mine in the car. … [W]hether one thinks that science tells us that global warming is a serious problem, which some scientists do, a minor problem which some scientists do, or hardly a problem at all, which some scientists do, the real question before this committee is whether EPA's regulations under the Clean Air Act are a wise solution to the problem.” [House Energy and Power Subcommittee Hearing, 3/8/11]

Ed Whitfield: Gore “misrepresent[ed] scientific research to support [his] own personal beliefs” on climate change. In a press release, Whitfield stated: “While sound science may be an ‘inconvenient truth’ for Al Gore, it is not for the American people who will feel the real effects of capping carbon emissions through job losses and higher electricity rates. Misrepresenting scientific research to support one’s own personal beliefs, particularly on an international stage, is dangerous, disingenuous and simply unacceptable. I call on Mr. Gore to come clean about the real science surrounding climate change and let the American people come to their own conclusions on global warming.” [Whitfield Press Release, 12/15/09]

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI):

Fred Upton on climate change: “I do not say it is man-made.” During an energy policy forum sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, Upton was asked by National Journal reporter Ron Brownstein, “Your view is that climate change is occurring?” Upton responded: “There was a report a couple of weeks ago that in fact if you look at this last year, it was the warmest year in the last decade. I accept that. I do not say it is man-made.” Brownstein followed-up by asking, So your belief is that the climate is changing, but you are not convinced that human activity is causing it.” Upton replied: “That’s it.” [Nuclear Energy Institute Forum, March 2011]

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX):

Ralph Hall: “I don’t believe” scientists who say human activities are causing climate change, and “a lot of science” tells us that climate researchers are “not basing it on real scientific facts.” During an interview that was republished on the Science Insider website, Hall was asked by National Journal, “Last year the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science published a survey finding that 97 percent of scientists were in consensus that human activities lead to global warming.” Hall responded: “And they each get $5,000 for every report like that they give out. That's just my guess. I don't have any proof of that. But I don't believe 'em. I still want to listen to 'em and believe what I believe I ought to believe.”  Hall later added: “I'm really more fearful of freezing [than global warming]. And I don't have any science to prove that. But we have a lot of science that tells us they're not basing [global warming] on real scientific facts.” [Science Insider, 12/14/11]

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX):

Joe Barton: “I believe that the earth’s climate is changing, but I think it’s changing for natural variation reasons.” [House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing, March 2009]

Joe Barton: “There’s a divergence of evidence” on what’s causing climate change. BuzzFeed reported, “Barton continued to say he didn’t deny the climate was changing, but argued that the change was due to natural causes, as he has in the past. ‘I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that climate is changing,’ he added. ‘I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural. I think there’s a divergence of evidence.’ Barton then cited the biblical Great Flood as an example of climate change not caused by man. ‘I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.’” [BuzzFeed Politics, 4/10/13]

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL):

Shimkus cited Bible to dismiss threat of climate change, stating: “Man will not destroy this Earth.” As the Toronto Star reported, “U.S. Representative John Shimkus, possible future chairman of the Congressional committee that deals with energy and its attendant environmental concerns, believes that climate change should not concern us since God has already promised not to destroy the Earth. … During a hearing in 2009, [Shimkus] dismissed the dangers of climate change and the warnings of the scientific community by quoting the Bible.” The article quoted Shimkus as saying: “The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood. I do believe that God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect.” [Toronto Star, 11/10/10]

Shimkus claimed there is a debate whether “this is a carbon-starved planet — not too much carbon.” As the State Register-Journal’s Bernard Shoenberg noted, during a House committee hearing Shimkus stated: “If we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? … We could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.” During the hearing, he also claimed: “There is a theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet — not too much carbon.” [State Register-Journal, 5/2/09]

Shimkus: Climate change has “been occurring forever.” A Politico article quoted Shimkus as saying: “Now, do I believe in climate change? In my trip to Greenland, the answer is yes. The climate is changing. … The question is more about the costs and benefits and trying to spend taxpayer dollars on something that you cannot stop versus the changes that have been occurring forever. That's the real debate."  [Politico, 11/10/10]

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA):

Scalise claimed there is a “vast amount of disagreement throughout the scientific community” on climate change, and that “recent scientific data shows that the earth is currently in a cooling period.” The Times-Picayune quoted Scalise as saying: “One Berkeley professor flip-flopping his opinion on global warming doesn't create any kind of consensus on this issue, and there's still vast amount of disagreement throughout the scientific community on the causes of climate change. In fact, recent scientific data shows that the earth is currently in a cooling period, and it's predicted that it will continue to cool over the next 20 years." [Times-Picayune, 8/7/12]

Scalise claimed there are an “increasing number of scientists who are raising major questions about the global warming theories." The Times-Picayune reported: “Scalise, who gained notoriety when he sharply questioned former Vice President Al Gore on his environmental conclusions during a congressional hearing last April, remains dubious of the Copenhagen meeting, which included a projection Monday by Gore that the Arctic Ocean may be nearly ice-free in the summertime as early as 2014. Asked whether he worries that he could be wrong, Scalise cited an ‘increasing number of scientists who are raising major questions about the global warming theories.’ Those doubts, he said, were only accelerated by the release of leaked e-mail messages last month from a leading climate scientist who suggested theories running counter to the view that human pollutants are causing global warming be eliminated or downplayed.” [Times-Picayune, 12/15/09]

Scalise claimed proposed EPA regulations of carbon pollution are “based on corrupt science.” According to the Times-Picayune: “Scalise last week joined other Louisiana lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Sen. David Vitter, in promising to fight an Obama administration plan to regulate carbon emissions that the Environmental Protection Agency says contributes to global warming. ‘The EPA's decision is another example of this administration's liberal agenda that is killing jobs, ‘ Scalise said. ‘What makes the EPA's decision even more reckless is the fact that it is based on corrupt science that has recently been exposed by the 'Climategate' scandal.’” [Times-Picayune, 12/15/09]

Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE):

Lee Terry on scientific consensus behind climate change: “Is it really 97 [percent] to 3? I don’t think so.” According to Esquire, Terry said “There's an argument here on the true impact of man” on climate change, “especially [on the] use of fossil fuels.” Esquire further reported: “Well, Terry says, lots of scientists with PhDs say we're in a period of [natural] global warming, but other scientists are putting more importance on fossil fuels and human behavior, as opposed to a natural warming cycle. … But what is the scientific basis for rejecting the consensus scientific view? If 97% of the scientists who specialize in this field agree, how do justify listening to the 3% who think laetrile cures cancer? ‘Is it really 97 to 3?’ Terry asks. ‘I don't think so.’" [Esquire, 8/7/12]

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX):

Michael Burgess: “My opinion … is that the science behind global temperature changes is not settled.” During a March 8, 2011 House Energy and Power subcommittee hearing, Burgess stated: “The science is important. We talk a lot of times about the consensus from the International Panel on Climate Change at the U.N., but science by consensus is fraught with some danger, and certainly Copernicus and Galileo, if they were still living, could testify to that effect.  My opinion, for what it is worth, is that the science behind global temperature changes is not settled. And the fact that we have this panel of experts in front of us today, who, I suspect at some point, will disagree with each other, is indicative of that. … Now, weather and climate are complex phenomena affected by a host of variables. In the 1970s, we have all seen the cover of Time Magazine. The earth was cooling and the next Ice Age was on the way. It was the consensus of scientists at that time that that was fact and there was no point in debating it any further. And, we have a very significantly different set of variables to contend with today.” [House Energy and Power Subcommittee Hearing, 3/8/11]

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA):

Cassidy claimed cause of global warming could “be just a shift on the axis.” During the House Energy and Commerce committee’s markup of H.R. 910, Cassidy stated: “Although it was mentioned that the [Waxman] amendment does not mention the cause of the warming – it could be secular, it could be just a shift on the axis – clearly what is being sought for is a set of solutions that are embodied in last year’s carbon trading system.” [House Energy and Commerce Full Committee Markup of H.R. 910 (starting at 34:26), 3/14/2011]

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX):

Olson claimed climate change science is not “settled.” SNL Energy Gas Utility Week reported: “While the relationship between the industry and the administration is not as frosty as it once was, Olson said he still believes officials are not backing away from their opposition to fossil fuels. ‘They keep on pushing [climate change] like the science is settled,’ he said. ‘It's not.’ [SNL Energy Gas Utility Week, 7/22/13]

Olson questioned “the accuracy of the IPCC data.” In remarks on the House floor, Olson declared: “The emails that emerged recently from the University of East Anglia call into question the accuracy of the IPCC data. … Given that the data was manipulated and hidden, and that opposing data was intentionally suppressed, it’s clear that the United States should not commit to any international agreement on climate change or implement a domestic regulatory system that could damage the economy and kill jobs.” Olson added, “Science is based on facts and data, but there is also the element of trust when public policy and science meet. If that trust is broken, it’s irresponsible for government to legislate on half-truths, incomplete findings, and bogus claims.” [Olson House floor statement, 12/10/09]

Rep. David McKinley (R-WV):

McKinley questioned whether human activity is “primarily” responsible for climate change. During a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, McKinley said “the petition project has 32,000 scientists and physicists who’ve disagreed” that human activity is the primary cause of climate change. He added, “They say it’s contributing, I think it would be irresponsible to say we don’t contribute, but is it primarily?” As Energy and Environment reported in an article that McKinley posted on his office website: “McKinley was pressing Moniz on whether his views on climate science were based on "consensus," as the West Virginia Republican pointed to lists produced by climate skeptics purporting to show tens of thousands of scientists who disagree with the prevailing view. ‘In terms of consensus, I think consensus has a place in politics,’ McKinley said. ‘But consensus doesn't have a place in science.’" [Think Progress, 6/14/13; Energy and Environment article posted on McKinley office website, 6/14/13]

McKinley claimed Al Gore can’t support the statement that “global warming is caused by man.” The Associated Press reported, “Many scientists have disavowed past climate change research, McKinley said, and he's waiting for valid science to convince him there's a problem and whether man is to blame. ‘This is an issue that people are using to try to stop the production of coal and the burning of coal in America, and we've got to find ways to stand up and say no to that,’ he said, calling for more independent research. ‘I don't want to listen to Al Gore tell me from a political standpoint that global warming is caused by man because I don't think he can support it.’" [Associated Press, 10/19/10]

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO):

Gardner claimed “recent reports” show global warming mostly not caused by human emissions. Energy and Environment reported, “[Gardner] referenced ‘recent reports’ that he said showed warming was mostly not attributable to human emissions. He did not offer specifics, and his office did not respond to inquiries.” [E&E Daily, 6/10/13]

Gardner: “I don't believe humans are causing [climate] change to the extent that's been in the news.” The Fort Collins Coloradan reported: “Betsy Markey and Cory Gardner's divergent positions on energy policy can be traced to their answers to a single question: are human-caused factors altering Earth's climate? ‘Yes,’ said Markey, the first-term Democratic incumbent from Fort Collins. ‘I think the climate is changing, but I don't believe humans are causing that change to the extent that's been in the news,’ said Gardner, a state representative from Yuma and the Republican nominee to challenge Markey.” [Fort Collins Coloradan, 9/19/10]

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS):

Pompeo claimed “there are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change,” including that “we’re cooling.” During an interview on C-Span’s Washington Journal, a caller asked Pompeo, “Do you agree that global warming is a problem at all?” Pompeo replied: “Look, I think the science needs to continue to develop. I’m happy to continue to look at it. There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.” [C-Span Washington Journal interview (starting at 6:00), 6/25/13]

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA):

Griffith claimed “many scientists do not even believe [man-made global warming] is happening.” The “Issues” page of Griffith’s 2010 campaign website stated: “Morgan opposes the Obama/Pelosi/Boucher ‘cap and trade’ scheme. Their program will result in massive job cuts in Southwest Virginia’s coal industry while raising electricity, gasoline, and heating prices for all consumers. He believes that it is reckless to pursue such an economically devastating plan in order to address a scientific theory—man-made global warming—that many scientists do not even believe is happening.” [Griffith 2010 Campaign Website]

Griffith reportedly said he is skeptical about “manmade global warming.” The Hill reported, “Griffith, who is skeptical about ‘manmade global warming,’ said if America doesn’t sell coal, other countries would. ‘We’re not going to stop global warming by not using our coal. What we’re going to do is impoverish a large portion of the American society,’ Griffith said. ‘And if it is in fact man-made global warming, we’re not going to have the money to do anything about it — the Chinese are going to have all the money, the Indians are going to have the money. We’re not going to have the money.’” [The Hill, 3/19/12]

(Photos by Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons.)

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