The Bought-and-Paid-For Climate Denialism of Mike Pence
Janet Redman of the Institute for Policy Studies says Trump’s VP willingness to fight regulation of emissions and accept millions in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry puts him squarely at odds with the interests of the American public
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
Donald Trump’s recently-announced VP running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, is a public climate change denier, along with Donald Trump. Here he is on Hardball with Chris Matthews talking about climate change, and the Republican energy policy. Let’s have a look.
MIKE PENCE: Trust the mainstream media, Chris. There is a denial of the growing skepticism in the scientific community about global warming. You’re going to see us oppose this massive national energy tax and the cap and trade. But you’re also, Chris, going to see Republicans come out with an all of the above strategy, more opportunities to explore our own domestic reserves, oil and natural gas and coal. Clean technologies, fuel efficiency standards, conservation, wind, solar, nuclear.
PERIES: I’m now being joined by Janet Redman of IPS. She’ll be going to discuss the article she co-authored about all of this, titled Mike Pence: He’s a Loyal Friend to Polluters. Thanks for joining us, Janet.
JANET REDMAN: Thanks so much for having me on.
PERIES: So let’s get right into it. Earlier, of course, in the article actually, you discuss his connection to ALEC. Let’s start there.
REDMAN: Well, so Mike Pence has been part of a lawsuit that ALEC, Chamber of Commerce, the Utilities Research Group, have brought against the EPA, suing them for the Clean Power Plan. That is, the regulation that comes out of the Obama administration that’s meant to curb greenhouse gas pollution and keep us on track for climate stability. It’s actually a kind of keystone of our international commitment that we made at the Paris-UN climate talks.
So Pence, as the governor of Indiana, of course, is one of 27 states and a number of industry groups that represent coal interests, heavy polluting, manufacturing, and utilities, many of which are, of course, benefiting from our, a basic monopoly over the energy sector, but also from taxpayer breaks.
PERIES: All right. Now, of course, who is behind the Koch brothers? Now, what’s interesting is that the Koch brothers have been a little reserved about endorsing Trump, and now Pence kind of ushers the Koch brothers into supporting this administration. Give us a sense of Pence’s connection to the Koch brothers.
REDMAN: Well, the Koch brothers, of course, are major funders of much of climate denialism. So they’re supporting of ALEC. There is campaigns around the country, both very public but also very secretive that are also fighting efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground. That, of course, is a major part of Koch’s holdings, are fossil fuel holdings. So it’s not surprising.
Pence himself has collected $2 million from utilities and coal companies, both directly for his campaign and to support his travel while he’s campaigning. So it’s really no surprise that we see him both being part of legal challenges against the Clean Power Plan, or saying things onstage like climate change denialism is a growing trend in the United States, which actually is not, or not in any of the data.
What’s interesting about Pence right now is that he has said, of course, that he will comply with the Clean Power Plan if it succeeds in winning this case in the DC District Court, and then in the Supreme Court. But it’s very clear that what he is doing is dragging his feet and trying to stop regulation of a major fossil fuel industry. That puts him squarely at odds with the interests of the American public. And in fact, he recently allowed a vote to die that would have created 9,000 new jobs in clean energy because he didn’t want to–he has interests that are counter to moving forward the clean energy transition.
PERIES: And that’s in the state of Indiana.
REDMAN: That’s right.
PERIES: And what else has he done in the state of Indiana that should give us reason to worry, here?
REDMAN: Well, I think what we should be pretty clear about is right off the bat he said Indiana is not going to comply with the Clean Power Plan. That’s actually something that many folks in ALEC, actually that state legislators who are invited to a meeting in ALEC in 2014 were told to do. Like, they were told to not comply. Later on leadership in the Edison Electric [Institute], which is a front group of, again, for utilities, told members of that working group, you know, it’s important to comply. That actually gives you more standing in the court case. Do the bare minimum to be in compliance, but we’ll see this court suit through.
So what we’re seeing right now is a lot of doublespeak. It’s happening with political leaders like Pence. It’s also happening with energy utilities like Duke Energy, who originally opposed the Clean Power Plan, then backtracked and said they were okay with it, but are still active in working groups and ALEC and other industry associations that are actively suing the EPA right now for their Clean Power Plan regulation.
PERIES: All right, Janet. Thank you for that. Very interesting revelations about the potential vice presidential candidate. Thank you.
REDMAN: Thank you.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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