Coal Tattoo

Rep. McKinley brings the climate deniers to town

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Rep. David McKinley has been pretty clear about where he stands on climate change and the need to do anything about it. The West Virginia Republican most recently said, in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this year:

The President’s focus on climate change is just code to justify his war on coal and other fossil fuels. While I agree that climate change is taking place, the question is what causes it. Is it man-made or natural? Despite the inconclusive science, the President made it clear he will take action that would cause considerable damage to our already weak economy.

On the other hand, as I wrote after those remarks, that might have been progress toward accepting reality:

It’s possible this is a minor shift in Rep. McKinley’s position. He’s previously appeared to question whether the climate is changing, but now appears to have backed off that (see here and here).

So, ever optimistic and hopeful, I was pleasantly surprised at first glance when I saw that Rep. McKinley had announced “a panel of distinguished experts in the field of climate science” to discuss the “Origins and Response to Climate Change” during a forum next week in Fairmont.

Here you had Rep. McKinley inviting Colorado State University climatologist Scott Denning and Jim Hurrell, a senior atmospheric scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), to the event. The list of speakers also includes someone from the World Resources Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund.

But then I looked more closely at the press release from Rep. McKinley. The other speakers included well-known climate change deniers like Marc Morano, Myron Ebell, and John Christy, as well as someone from the Heritage Foundation and Dennis Avery, author of “Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years”.

Keep in mind that a recent analysis of nearly 12,000 scientific papers found a 97 percent consensus that humans are causing global warming. President Obama’s new energy secretary,  Ernest Moniz, said this week:

Let me make it very clear that there is no ambiguity in terms of the scientific basis calling for a prudent response on climate change. I am not interested in debating what is not debatable. There is plenty to debate as we try and move forward on our climate agenda.

Remember what Sen. Robert C. Byrd said back in December 2009:

To be part of any solution, one must first acknowledge a problem. To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table.

And what Sen. Jay Rockefeller said just last year:

… The shift to a lower carbon economy is not going away and it’s a disservice to coal miners and their families to pretend that it is. Coal company operators deny that we need to do anything to address climate change despite the established scientific consensus and mounting national desire for a cleaner, healthier environment.