There isn’t a more perfect example of why money should be removed from our political process than Senator James Inhofe (R-OKL). He’s the epitome of a bought politician.
There are few as zealous against environmental protection as he. His most recent escapade was championing a bill S.J. Res 37 using an obscure Congressional Review Act to try to block the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. Lucky for humanity, he lost.
The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards require steep reductions of mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxic pollutant emissions from coal-fired power plants. It is estimated that the reduction of these pollutants will save 11,000 lives annually, prevent more than 100,000 asthma and heart attacks yearly, and it’s estimated to reduce associated medical cost by $80 billion annually.
Senator Inhofe is also one of the staunchest deniers of climate change. He held witch hunt hearings against established peer-reviewed climatologists like Dr. James Hansen at NASA and Dr. Michael Mann, a scientist on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) trying to discredit them by misquoting their scientific reports and telling outright lies about their science.
In his effort to discredit real climatologists, Inhofe pushed junk non peer-reviewed science and quack scientists like Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen, and Frederick Sietz whose fake “science” has been publicly summarily and repeatedly debunked. They also have been exposed for receiving thousands, in some cases millions, of dollars from the fossil fuel industry either directly or funneled indirectly through extreme conservative “think tanks” like The Heartland Institute and the George C. Marshal Institute. Basing his “proof” that climate change is a hoax on their phony science, Inhofe coined his infamous phrase, “climate change is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”. He, more than anyone, is responsible for derailing vital climate change legislation in congress.
If his campaign contributions were overlooked one might think he were insane. After all, on the Rachel Maddow Show on March 15, 2012 Inhofe said, “I was actually on your side on the issue (global warming) when I was chairing the committee (Senate Environmental Committee) and I first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out what it would cost (to fix it).” What?
Perhaps he meant to say, how much it paid to be a denier. According to Opensecrets, Inhofe accepted $311,800 in oil contributions during the 110th Congress. He received $662,506 from oil companies between 2000 and 2008, making him the top congressional recipient of oil money. He has received $152,800 in coal industry contributions during the 110th Congress. Opensecrets listed Inhofe’s top five campaign contributors from 2005 to 2010 as: Koch Industries - $41,800, Murray Energy - $31,100, Reed Elsevier Inc. - $29,450, OEG Energy - $21,800, and Contran Corp - $21,500. Inhofe’s campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry since 1998 total $1,189,050. No wonder he’s against environmental regulations! While he was receiving all of this money he’s been serving on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; as Chairman from 2003 to 2007 and now as Ranking Minority member. Talk about the fox in the hen house!
After his junk science and his quack scientists were summarily discredited, he tried a new tactic - religion. In a radio interview with Vic Eliason on Voice of Christian Youth America, Inhofe said “only God can change the climate, and the idea that manmade pollution could affect the seasons is “arrogance”. In his book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, Inhofe quotes Genesis 8:22, “as long as the Earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night “, as his biblical foundation for disbelieving human caused climate change.
Meanwhile scientists measure 91 million tons of CO2 pumping into the atmosphere globally every 24 hours. They watched CO2 levels rise 116 parts per million (PPM) in the last 120 years, or so, to today’s 396.18 PPM. This steep jump in CO2 levels comes after an 800,000 year period of CO2 levels hovering at a steady natural average of around 280 PPM. That sudden jump is not natural and we know it comes directly from burning fossil fuels. Scientists also observe the ten hottest years on record occurring since 1998. To continuing to burn fossil fuels is total insanity.
Now, if Senator Inhofe were so religiously inspired where is his love and compassion for the humans that suffer now from pollution and climate change around the planet? In fact, considering that his state, Oklahoma, suffered from extreme droughts and tornadoes in 2011 and ranchers lost over 117,000 head of cattle, and many their livelihoods, how can he possibly deny climate change and keep a straight face?
Campaign financing PAC and Super PAC money keeps legislators like him in power. Inhofe doesn’t represent the people of Oklahoma; he’s a pimp for the fossil fuel industry. His brand of politician is destroying our democracy and our ability to survive on this planet.
It’s all about money, but if we disrupt earth’s life support system, the economy will be a moot point. It’s time for people to pay attention and change the system.