Rick Perry said Friday that he cares about “real” pollution—but not climate change pollution.
Texas “decreased our nitrogen oxide levels, which by the way is real. It’s a real emission,” he said, when asked about climate change during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington. He took credit for cuts to Texas air pollution over his 14 years as governor. “Our carbon dioxide levels were down, whether you believe in this whole climate change concept or not.”
Perry is greenwashing his record. Under his watch, Texas fought major Environmental Protection Agency rules that regulate cross-state pollution and ozone. He's also making a distinction that he and other Republicans, like Senator Rand Paul, have made before: They insist they aren’t unreasonable on environmental issues because they support cutting ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide (precursors for smog). But they still deny that carbon pollution, the chief cause of climate change, is a problem.
“The point is you can have job creation and you can make your environment better,” Perry said. “That ought to be our goal in this country, and that starts with energy policy.”
He's implying, of course, that President Obama's environmental actions cost jobs. There's no evidence of that.
That said, at least Perry made a modest case for tackling air pollution, even if his conservative audience wasn't buying it. The attendees were silent throughout his response—at least until his final line.
“Open up the Keystone XL pipeline,” he said. The crowd cheered.