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Ted Cruz Continues to 'Coddle' His Fossil Fuel Funders in Wake of Deadly Texas Floods
On paper at least, Texas Senator and declared 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz is an intelligent man. He graduated cum laude from Princeton University where he was a debate champion. He went onto Harvard Law School where he graduated magna cum laude and was primary editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
But when Cruz talks about the climate, many people feel he sounds like the most ignorant and fact-challenged of his far-right followers.
Last week, as destructive floods swept his home state, killing more than two dozen people and destroying hundreds of homes, Cruz said, in response to a question about the role of climate change in the floods, "At a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster." Never mind that climate scientists in Texas and other places think that, far from "politicizing" the disaster, talking about climate change is the first step to finding a solution and protecting people from the impacts of climate change.
“As a scientist, I think it is essential to connect the dots between climate change and the increasing risk it poses to our families and communities,” Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, told ThinkProgress in response to Cruz's attempt to disconnect the flooding from climate change. “Keeping our mouths shut on what the data is telling us, even if it’s in fear of vicious reprisals, is like a physician not telling a patient they have a dangerous condition just because they’re afraid of the patient’s reaction.”
"The science isn’t political,” she said. “It’s the solutions that are political.”
In a recent TEDxTexas talk, Hayhoe explains how today's warming caused by carbon emissions makes weather extremes more likely and more severe than they were in the past:
Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, suggested that Cruz might have ulterior motives for his persistent and outrageous climate denial statements, motives that could include the nearly 1 million dollars in campaign contributions Cruz has received from the oil and gas industry—his largest funder after Republican and conservative political groups.
“The ones politicizing the matter are those like Cruz who coddle their fossil fuel funders by denying the science of climate change and smearing those who attempt to point out the very real and damaging impacts climate change is already having,” Mann told ThinkProgress. “It is shameful and history will judge it as such.”
Cruz has a lengthy track record of politicizing climate science to push for policies that favor the fossil fuel industry.
Earlier this year, Cruz called California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been working on strong new regulations on cutting fossil fuel emissions and increasing energy efficiency in his state and hammering our climate agreements with other government leaders, a "global warming alarmist" who doesn't want to look at what Cruz called "real data," although that apparently doesn't include the work of the 97 percent of climate scientists who accept that human-caused global warming is indeed real.
Days later, Cruz ratcheted up his rhetoric and his politicization of climate change, saying "global warming alarmists are the equivalent of flat-earthers" who are making "apocalyptical claims."
"You know it used to be it [was] accepted scientific wisdom [that] the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier,” said Cruz.
When he wasn't busy telling interviewers that the climate scientists are wrong and that he and his ilk are the equivalent of Gallileo, he was embarrassing himself in a hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, of which he happens to be chair. When NASA administrator Charles Bolden attempted to explain why the space agency studies climate change, Cruz retorted, "I would suggest that almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space. That’s what inspires little boys and little girls across this country. It’s what sets NASA apart from any agency in the country. I am concerned that NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission.”
Cruz's fellow Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, backed Bolden, saying, "The chairman has mentioned that he wants science to drive the process here. Here we have leading experts in our country on science saying that the cuts that we saw in Earth sciences were disastrous in the Bush era.”
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.