Rick Perry to Climate Activists: Fossil Fuels Save Lives
After an activist expressed, "climate change is killing people," the Secretary of Energy remarked in the conference room full of oil industry representatives and executives that fossil fuels save lives.
"This industry is leading the world in affecting the climate and affecting the climate in a positive way," Perry said, according to Bloomberg. "I'm proud to be a part of this industry. You want to talk about saving lives, that's what we are doing."
The former Texas governor praised Texas' efforts in reducing carbon dioxide and other pollution and that U.S. liquefied natural gas, which produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to coal, is replacing dirty coal plants.
He also insisted that energy access saves lives in Africa, an industry talking point, Bloomberg noted.
"It upsets me when some guy stands up and says, 'What are you going to do, you're killing people,'" Perry said to applause. "No sir. You want to kill people, you take energy away from them and you see how those north African countries will be treated."
Great event w/ @SecretaryZinke & others today at the National Petroleum Council mtg Together we will achieve… https://t.co/kkxBuMCrdF— Rick Perry (@Rick Perry)1506374115.0
According to Bloomberg, the protestors were removed from the hotel conference room after their remarks.
Earlier this month, Perry dismissed the link between climate change and its effect on extreme weather after Hurricane Harvey wrecked Houston.
"We can line up scientists on both sides of this," he told CBS News, but "this is not the time to be having this conversation."
Rather, Perry said, the focus should be on helping Hurricane Harvey victims.
"Everyone wants to run to the climate change debate, but that is very secondary at this particular time," he said.
This week happens to be Washington's inaugural " National Clean Energy Week," an event touted to bring together "high-profile elected leaders and national clean energy organizations for substantive discussions around commonsense solutions that directly address America's need for abundant, reliable forms of energy."
Perry is one of the featured speakers at Tuesday's star event, the Symposium & Demonstration Fair on Capitol Hill.
But environmental organizations criticized the weeklong event as an "ultimate corporate greenwashing experience."
In a letter addressed to members of Congress, the groups called out some of the sponsors of National Clean Energy Week as "some of the dirtiest actors in the energy industry," such as the American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, Biomass Power Association, Energy Recovery Institute (garbage incineration), and the Nuclear Energy Institute.
"The climate crisis is real, and these clean energy claims are phony," said Dr. Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, a nonprofit that applies science to inform clean energy policy. "We're writing Congress to remind it that clean energy doesn't come out of a smokestack. Congress must keep its hands off Americans' wallets when these super-polluters come asking for clean energy subsidies."
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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