“I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They’ve been changing ever since the earth was formed.”
And here’s a video clip:
But now, details are starting to emerge that may explain Perry’s increasingly radical climate change denial and attacks on scientists. Throughout his career he’s raised more than $11 million from the oil and gas industry, which is far more than he’s raised from any other industry.
And as Ben Adler reports, Perry has a long history of using his power to reward campaign donors, particularly on environmental issues:
Perry has generously rewarded his contributors with appointments and political favors. Perry has appointed 921 people, who have donated to his campaigns, for a total of $17.1 million, to various jobs and boards. These are not always disinterested public servants. McDonald (Director of Texans for Public Justice) says, “There are lots of people who have business interests who got appointed to positions with regulatory power over them.”
Perry has also shown an eagerness to do the bidding of his major supporters. Most notably, his second-biggest all-time donor, Harold Simmons, owns a nuclear waste dump. Perry led the charge in 2010, while Simmons gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Perry’s re-election campaign, to allow Simmons to import nuclear waste from thirty-eight states. On June 27 of this year, ten days after Perry signed the legislation, Simmons gave $100,000 to Americans for Rick Perry. Tom Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, estimates that the rule change will bring upward of $2 billion for Simmons. “If you put money in Perry’s purse, he’ll create policies you need,” says Smith.
And Perry’s habit of abusing public office in order to make his cronies rich isn’t a recent development. Adler explains:
Perry has been carrying water for environmentally destructive industries since his days in the Texas legislature. Back then, in the late 1980s, he led efforts to prevent species such as the golden cheek warbler from being listed as endangered, because their habitats in West Texas were threatened by suburban sprawl. Developers feared that they would be unable to pave over sensitive lands. Perry’s all-time biggest donor is home builder Bob Perry (no relation).
Perry obviously has no shame about any of this, and he’ll likely continue attacking climate science and scientists in increasingly hysterical terms. This is compounded by the fact that Michele Bachmann is also escalating her rhetoric on the issue, calling climate science manufactured science Tuesday in South Carolina.
The good news is, while attempting to out-crazy each other as the most anti-environmental candidate may help Perry and Bachmann in the Republican primary, it is likely to backfire in the general election.
Meanwhile, the Huntsman campaign, which is polling at a dismal 3% in New Hampsire and garnered just 69 votes in the Ames Straw Poll, seized on Perry’s latest remarks:
“We’re not going to win a national election if we become the anti-science party,” John Weaver, Huntsman’s chief strategist, said in an interview Wednesday. “The American people are looking for someone who lives in reality and is a truth teller because that’s the only way that the significant problems this country faces can be solved. It appears that the only science that Mitt Romney believes in is the science of polling, and that science clearly was not a mandatory course for Governor Perry.”
Obviously, Huntsman is right. Unfortunately, being right about climate change is a weakness in today’s Republican party.
Update — The Washington Post weighs in:
Perry’s statement suggests that, on the climate change issue, the governor is willfully ignoring the facts and making false accusations based on little evidence. He has every right to be a skeptic — all scientific theories should be carefully scrutinized — but that does not give him carte blanche to simply make things up.
Update 2 — John Broder has more on why this strategy may backfire in the general election:
But while attacks on the E.P.A., climate-change science and environmental regulation more broadly are surefire applause lines with many Republican primary audiences, these views may prove a liability in the general election, pollsters and analysts say. The American people, by substantial majorities, are concerned about air and water pollution, and largely trust the E.P.A., national surveys say.
Update 3 — The Hill reports that Perry is facing pushback in New Hampshire over his remarks.
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