The GOP primary : how anti-environment can they get ?
Although the GOP primary candidates disagree on many things, one of the few things they seem to agree about is that protecting the environment is a fool's errand, that the environment crises all around the world have been wildly exaggerated, and that what the United States really need to focus on is using every natural resource it can, regardless of the environment. And of course bomb the hell out of Isis. That goes without saying. The sad thing is, the statements of the GOP candidates seem to get worse and worse. Why is that ? The candidates with the most environment friendly ideas have been flushed out of the race. And the ones who had rather moderate views are edging closer to the fossil fuel champion frontrunners.
Ted Cruz, Koch brothers denier « hero »[edit | edit source]
One of the ideas that is widely shared in the GOP is that climate change has been overstated in the media. Many of the leading republican candidates don't believe that climate change is happening at all. For instance, Ted Cruz has clearly stated that he believed that "Climate change is not science, it is religion." And he has used his Senate seat to promote his view by organising a Senate hearing whose official theme was to establish whether climate science was “data or dogma”, but the real purpose was to invite notorious climate change skeptics to speak.
Of course, Ted Cruz doesn't care that 97 % of climate scientists agree on climate change, if he says it's religion, it has to be religion, because, after all, Ted Cruz knows quite a bit about religion, doesn't he ? Anyway Ted Cruz is clearly the most outspoken denier of climate change among GOP candidates and he is openly supported by the American Energy Alliance, a Koch brothers financed group, that sees him as the best advocate against climate change.
Widespread climate skepticism among other leading candidates[edit | edit source]
The other leading candidates may not be as spirited in their denial as Ted Cruz, but they're still no champions of climate change. Donald Trump treats the topic of climate change like every other topic, by joking about it. In 2013, he tweeted : "Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee - I'm in Los Angeles and it's freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!". In its own way, this statement is as irresponsible as Ted Cruz's crusade. Because he is pitting everyday life experience against scientific findings and he is mixing up global warming and the climate disruption that it causes. This kind of nonchalant statement is typically what prevents most Americans from realising the urgency of policy change but also lifestyle change ! Oh, and of course Donald Trump has a pretty good idea of who might be behind this hoax : "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive" as he expressed in a 2012 tweet.
Donald Trump wouldn't be Donald Trump if on top of making irresponsible statements, he didn't throw in a little xenophobia. I mean, it can't hurt, can it ? As for Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, he expressed a very surprising view about climate change in May in Iowa : "I'll tell you what I think about climate change. The temperature's either going up or down at any point in time, so it really is not a big deal". Perhaps he can tell that to the Alaskans who are losing their villages to global warming and erosion. The only leading candidate that believes climate change is happening, Marco Rubio, also contends that the change has nothing to do with human activity. Marco Rubio's case is interesting because he has intentionally downplayed his views supporting climate change in order to stay in the race, which is a clear indication of the extent of the GOP allergy to facing the reality of climate change
How the candidates that recognized climate change have been flushed out or changed stance[edit | edit source]
It's quite striking to see that some candidates felt like they needed to have a more GOP mainstream stance and softened their statements on climate change. In 2007, Marco Rubio was very confident that global warming was a reality America needed to face, and he called for a shift toward a cleaner economic model. However, during the 2016 presidential race, he has distanced himself with these earlier statements and has expressed more and more skepticism toward the reality of climate change. He has stressed that he didn't believe human activity had anything to do with climate change.
And finally, he reneged the last shred of his old stance by stating in April 2015 on CBS : "I believe climate is changing because there's never been a moment where the climate is not changing". This has led many commentators to call him a “flip-flopper” and indeed this kind of utilitarian and cold-blooded change of stance is pretty much the lowest kind of politics there is. However, Rubio's cowardly ideological switch is only the symptom of the GOP's collective refusal to admit the reality of climate change. And the candidates that recognized this phenomenon, such as Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki or Bobby Jindal, have all dropped out of the race.
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GOP candidates have been very outspoken against government agencies and their role in environment preservation. Ted Cruz has openly accused the National Oceanic Administration and NASA of « cooking the books » to prove climate change, thus playing on the well earned distrust some citizens have accumulated against the government, but in a way that is eventually going to backfire against them ! All candidates have attacked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ben Carson described his vision of the agency on his facebook page :"My EPA would be much more like NASA and much less like the FBI. (...) I believe the EPA should be a research and technology coordinator, not an armed police force".
As if big corporations always had the common good in mind and shouldn't be coerced into respecting environmental and health standards. Marco Rubio said basically the same thing in September 2015 as he fought an EPA plan about land and waterways : "Hardworking Americans have had enough of Washington bureaucrats telling them how to use their land". It's always the same devious argument, that tries to show that farmers and workers are victims of environment and health regulations, when they are actually the victims of the absence of protective rules, for instance in the fields where they are exposed to pesticides.
Fossil fuel fury[edit | edit source]
And naturally, the GOP is unanimous in supporting a fossil fuel based energy policy. In 2011, Ted Cruz supported vigorously the oil and gas exploration in West Texas against the Obama administration. He accused Obama of seeking to prevent discovery of huge reserves of gas and oil and thus the creation of « countless new jobs ». In 2012 he campaigned against the offshore drilling moratorium that had been decided after the Deepwater disaster. He is joined in this view by Donald Trump who contends that the United States should be drilling more aggressively for gas and oil. Finally, all Republican candidates are furious about Obama's decision to bury the Keystone XL pipeline project that would have connected Alberta's disastrous tar sands sites to the United States. The Republicans completely overlooked the danger of oils spills along the pipeline and naturally the overall environmental impacts of the pipeline.
The bottom line is that Republicans all claim that it is in America’s best interest to keep on as if there was no problem. To keep on relying on fossil fuels, while doing nothing to remediate the consequences of human activity on the environment. This is perhaps one of the ugliest political lies since the invasion of Iraq. And its consequence, if unchecked, could be deadly, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.