Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has "some good news" for Americans who have been burdened by environmental regulations and the dubious scientific findings that have been used to justify those regulations.
"Obama's war on fossil fuels is temporarily over," he said during a video presentation this morning addressing scientists, economists, engineers, and policy experts who are taking part in the Heartland Institute's 12th annual International Conference on Climate Change. Since 2008, the Chicago-based free market think tank has brought together more than 4,000 people from across the globe to participate in the conferences.
President Trump's victory, combined with Republican majorities in Congress and in statehouses across the country, strongly suggests that most Americans are not beguiled by alarmist theories on global warming, top officials with Heartland have argued. Inhofe, who is one of the leading climate skeptics in Congress, drove this point home during his presentation. But at the same time, he also urged conference participants to "remain vigilant" in anticipation of coming political battles.
"The outlook for environmental activists and climate change alarmists is grim," he said. "With significant losses in the White House, and Congress and the Supreme Court, and a persistently skeptical public, their political leverage and relevance has dwindled."
Even so, Inhofe warned, that "liberal extremists are not going to give up." During Obama's eight years in office, the former president "built a culture of radical alarmists," who will "be back," Inhofe said.
America's economic and national security posture deteriorated significantly under Obama as a result of climate change policies that absorbed vital resources that could have been better invested, Inhofe told the conference.
"Every administrative entity under Obama was forced to embrace climate change as a top priority and it was used as a convenient sounding board," Inhofe said. "We've seen this with agencies such as the Department of Defense diverting resources away from their core responsibility of defending America." Inhofe also quoted Obama as saying that "climate change is a greater threat than terrorism."
In addition to the Department of Defense, "other agencies have spared no taxpayer expense supporting outcome-driven science" to bolster the administration's claims, Inhofe said. In fact, the Congressional Research Service has reported that the Obama administration spent $120 billion on climate change, Inhofe informed conference participants and listeners.
"Not many people are aware of this," Inhofe said. "It is a total waste of money."
But Inhofe did express strong support for the decisive action Trump has taken during his first few weeks in office to unravel Obama-era regulations.
"Just a few weeks ago, I was in the White House when President Trump signed an executive order to roll back the Waters of the United States rule. Remember this was the rule that would have allowed the EPA to regulate all land and water uses in America."
Rolling back the water rule will "provide crucial relief for farmers," Inhofe added. He also said the Trump administration is set to "roll back" the multibillion dollar Clean Power Plan, which he said would dramatically increase electricity prices for average Americans.
"Steps are being taken by the Trump administration to return the role of [federal] agencies to their statutory intent," Inhofe said. "We've seen great success in our water and air quality based on the EPA operating within its statutory budget. We will be able to right-size the agency to help the American people instead of punishing them with heavy-handed regulations from Washington that give little or no actual environmental benefit."
Inhofe also cited a Fox News poll that showed 97 percent of Americans are not as concerned about global warming when it is ranked in comparison to terrorism, healthcare, immigration, the economy and other pressing issues. But back in 2002, polls showed global warming as a number one issue, he recalled.
Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, has some insight into public opinion that he shared during his morning talk just before Inhofe.
"When you ask the right question, you get the right answer," he said. "…This a wonderful time to be a global warming realist. We actually represent the mainstream."
While the "scientific battle" is largely over now that updated scientific findings have debunked alarmist claims, the political battle to repeal environmental regulations remains a very tough fight, Bast said.
The Heartland Institute's conference continues through Thursday and into Friday. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who chairs the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is scheduled to delivered a keynote address Thursday where he will update listeners on his committee's agenda. Other notable speakers include Walter Cunningham, an Apollo 7 astronaut, who received the "Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award" this morning.
"I have not found one single bit of data," that validates global warming alarmism, Cunningham said while accepting the award.
Kevin Mooney is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an investigative reporter in Washington, D.C. who writes for several national publications.
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