This week in climate change, thanks in part to an open letter from 21 Florida mayors and an online plea from ClimateEye and our enthusiastic supporters, CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper posed a climate question in the GOP debate.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was tapped with the question first, asked on behalf of Republican Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, who is concerned about climate change impacts such as sea level rise. Would Rubio, as president, acknowledge the reality of the scientific consensus of climate change and pledge to do something about it?
“Sure, the climate is changing. And one of the reasons why the climate is changing is because the climate is always changing,” Rubio said, reiterating a common refrain from his campaign. “There’s never been a time when the climate is not changing.”
“I think the fundamental question for a policymaker is: is the climate changing because of something we are doing and if so, is there a law we can pass to fix it?’
“As far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there’s no such thing,” Rubio added. “On the contrary, there are laws they want us to pass that would be devastating for our economy.”
“I’m in favor of a clean environment,” Rubio said. “But these laws some people are asking us to pass will do nothing for the environment and they will hurt and devastate our economy.”
Tapper asked Ohio Gov. John Kasich to respond to the same question.
“I do believe we contribute to climate change,” Kasich said. “But I don’t think it has to be either you are for some environmental stringent rules or you aren’t going to have any jobs. The fact is you can have both.”
“In our state, we have reduced emissions by 30 percent,” he continued. “We want all the sources of energy. We want to dig coal, but we want to clean it when we burn it. We believe in natural gas. We believe in nuclear power. And you know what else I believe in? I happen to believe in solar energy, wind energy, efficiency. Renewables matter.”
“You can have a strong environmental policy at the same time that you have strong economic growth,” Kasich said in conclusion. “They are not inconsistent with one another.”
Neither Donald Trump nor Sen. Ted Cruz were posed the question or otherwise commented.
Earlier in the week, Rubio told a questioner at a town hall meeting: “I do want to lead the world in every energy resource. I want us to fully utilize oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear energy, wind, solar, biofuels. I want to lead in all of them. I want the U.S. to be number one in every source of energy, have the most diverse portfolio possible, and allow the market to choose which one makes sense.”
“Innovation and technology is already basically driving us in the direction that people concerned about sea level rise want us to go. My only argument is allow the market to drive it, not government mandates,” Rubio added to applause.
“If you’ve got flooding in Miami Beach, you gotta deal with it.” Rubio concluded with a discussion of coastal development and local mitigation issues.
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