Will Republicans Put Climate Science Back On Trial?

Senate Republicans appear likely to use their majority status in the next Congress to attack the argument behind climate change in an attempt to undercut environmental policies.
 
But some GOP strategists wonder whether such an offensive might backfire. 
 
Questioning — and attempting to delegitimize — climate scientists has been an oft-used tactic of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who is poised to reprise his role as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. 
 
It was a hallmark of his 2003 to 2007 chairmanship of the panel — and the following six years, when he was its ranking member.
 
As one of the most outspoken skeptics of the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions from humans cause climate change, Inhofe is still a frequent critic of climate scientists.

But focusing too much on attacking climate change could end up hurting Republicans, a GOP strategist said.
 
Ford O’Connell, who advised Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on his 2008 presidential bid, said that it’d be difficult for Republicans to win arguments on climate change by only criticizing science.
 
“Inhofe has to really walk a tight-rope here, in the sense that if he can frame this as about the need for American energy security and a war on jobs, he could be successful,” O’Connell said. “But if he uses this pedestal to throw out heaps of red meat, it could backfire.”
 
Climate change repeatedly ranks low in Americans’ top concerns in major surveys. But O’Connell fears that if Republicans stray from economic and energy security arguments, it could highlight the issue more and open the door to criticisms that they do not care about the environment.
 
“When you start talking about the need for energy security, the instability around the world and the need for jobs, [Inhofe]’s got a winner,” O’Connell said. “But he’s got to keep the car between these two lines.”

Read more from Timothy Cama at The Hill

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