Climate change and energy policy have seemed to take a back burner during this 2012 presidential election season. But with much of the United States in a drought and many cities experiencing record heat, the candidate’s policies on climate change should be made a part of the campaign dialogue. Mitt Romney has not said much on the issue of climate change except for his belief that “we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”
The appointment of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate should make conservationists concerned as his policy record on environmentalism and climate change is abysmal. Paul Ryan received a 3% voter rating from the League of Conservation Voters for the 1st Session of the 112th Congress – which is basically as low as you can get.
Ryan’s voting record demonstrates his virulent denial of climate science. Paul Ryan has argued that snow invalidates global warming policy, stating in his 2009 op-ed that “unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow”. He has stated that climatologists “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change” and has supported legislation that would prevent the limitation of green house gases and block the US Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters.
Here is a sample of his voting record:
Paul Ryan voted to Eliminate EPA limits on Greenhouse Pollution. He voted in favor of H.R. 910 (4/07/11) to block the US Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution. According to the League of Conservation Voters, this bill would “permanently block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act” and “undermine fuel economy standards. This harmful bill would jeopardize public health and the environment, and increase the nation’s dangerous dependence on oil.
Paul Ryan voted to block the USDA from preparing for climate change. He voted in favor of the Scalise Amendment to the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations bill(6/16/11), to bar the US Department of Agriculture from implementing its Climate Protection Plan. As stated by the League of Conservation Voters, voting “yes” to this amendment was anti-environment. The League states, “Our nation’s food sources and forests are threatened by the increased severity and variability of climate and weather-related events. The Agriculture Department is working with farmers, the agriculture industry, and forest managers to prepare for these threats and to develop better farming and forestry practices to help reduce the negative impacts of climate change.”
Paul Ryan voted for Keystone XL Pipeline. Ryan voted to expedite the consideration and approval of the construction and operation of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline (7/26/11). Representative Lee Terry (R-NE) sponsored H.R. 1938, the misnamed North American-Made Energy Security Act, to rush a decision on whether to grant a presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline across six states in order to carry tar sands—the dirtiest oil on the planet—from Canada’s boreal forest to an international shipping port in Texas. The League of Conservation Voters states that “this pipeline would threaten the environment with far more global warming pollution than conventional crude oil and jeopardize surrounding communities, ecosystems, and watersheds.”
Paul Ryan voted against the Energy Efficiency Loan H.R. 4785. This bill (which ultimately passed) aimed to amend the miscellaneous rural development provisions of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to make loans to certain entities that will use the funds to make loans to consumers to implement energy efficiency measures involving structural improvements and investments in cost-effective, commercial off-the-shelf technologies to reduce home energy use. Journalist Deena Shanker, responded to these votes, stating that the fact “that Ryan would oppose cutting tax incentives for oil companies in order to help those working in renewable shows how his support for Americans and their businesses is reserved only for those exploiting the environment”
Paul Ryan budget kept big oil subsides and slashed clean energy investment. Ryan’s FY 2013 Budget Resolution retained a decades’ worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while slashing funding for investments in clean energy research, development, deployment, and commercialization, along with other energy programs. The plan called for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone.
In addition to his opposition to meaningful action to reduce global warming pollution, Paul Ryan’s budget called for ”drastic cuts in federal spending on energy research and development and for the outright elimination of subsidies and tax breaks for wind, solar power and other alternative energy technologies.”
In order to solve the very real climate crisis that the world is facing, we need political leadership that recognizes the need for action and will fight for policies that move us toward a clean energy economy.
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For more information on Paul Ryan and his views check out our page: Paul Ryan on the Issues