At a conference of climate-change deniers in Washington on Thursday, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe showed his audience a slide of global temperature trends and said, “If you look, you’ll see God is still up there.”
For Inhofe, the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, global warming is “the greatest hoax”—the title of an entire book he wrote on the subject. And nearly every year, he delivers the keynote address at the Heartland Institute’s annual International Conference on Climate Change, now in its tenth year.
“If you look at the Republican candidates, they’re all denying this stuff, with the exception of Lindsey Graham,” he assured the hundreds of attendees. “They’re all with the people in this room.”
He’s not wrong. But he also warned his audience that there might be some movement on climate politics within his party.
Politico's Darren Goode reported this week on a new effort by Jay Faison, a North Carolina businessman and conservative, to spend $175 million advancing conservative solutions on climate change. According to Inhofe, this campaign shows that any Republican who accepts climate science is an “appeaser.”
“When they see how much money is there, and they see that the bureaucracy is on their side, they might be tempted to give them a vote,” he said. “This why you have this last guy with $175 million claiming to be a Republican, and all it takes is one or two or three of the senators to say maybe I’ll appease them.”
Inhofe called Faison “another Tom Steyer,” referring to the liberal billionaire who has replaced Al Gore as the right’s most hated Democratic environmentalist.
Despite Steyer and Faison’s infusion of money in climate politics, Inhofe and his allies are hardly the underdogs. Much of Washignton’s gridlock on climate change can be attributed to the fossil fuel industry’s vast influence in politics. It’s why many politicians on the right prefer to say, “I’m not a scientist,” and leave it at that.
Inhofe takes a slightly different approach: He ended his speech with “Amen.”