May 13, 2014

Marco Rubio: The Dirty Energy President

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On Sunday’s ABC “This Week,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed two notable opinions. First, he said he’s ready to be president of the United States. Second, he asserted that climate change is not caused by humans and cannot be slowed by regulation:

RUBIO:  I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.  Our climate is always changing.  And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and — and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity….

ABC’s JONATHAN KARL: But — but let me get this straight. You do not think that human activity, the production of CO2, has caused warming to our planet?

RUBIO: I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. …. And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.

Rubio has expressed similar views before, rejecting the overwhelming scientific consensus that the climate change of recent decades has been caused by human activity, most notably the burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil, and gas.

Although Rubio may come to these views out of conviction, they are consistent with the emphatic opinions of some of the biggest contributors to his campaigns, namely corporations in the fossil fuel industries.

When he ran for the Senate in 201o, Rubio received more money from Koch Industries, $32,200, than any other candidate for Senate that year and any other federal candidate outside Kansas, where the Koch brothers’ enterprise has its headquarters. The Koch brothers are leaders in the climate change denial movement; they have poured more than $67 million into efforts to deny that human activity is heating up the planet. And the Kochs don’t do this simply out of the goodness of their hearts; Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held company in America, is heavily invested in oil and gas.

Oil and gas giants ExxonMobil and Chevron, coal titan Murray Energy, and Florida’s Sunshine Gasoline Distributors are also among the 100 biggest donors to Rubio.

Rubio’s largest donor group by a wide margin since 2009 is the conservative group Club for Growth, whose officials have provided $362,826. Club for Growth denies the science of climate change and strongly opposes action. It also lobbied against relief for the victims of megastorm Sandy.

When Marco Rubio tells America that climate change may not be a concern, and that there would be huge costs  in doing anything about it, it’s worth asking whether his ties to America’s biggest fossil fuel companies, and the climate denial industry they bankroll, are influencing his views.  And it’s worth worrying whether, if Rubio became president, he would take any actions at all to protect the people of the United States from the devastating impact of climate change, or whether he would listen to the climate change-denying dirty energy industry and its lobbyists, and do nothing instead.

This article also appears on Huffington Post and Grist.