Rick Perry's environmental record
By Dylan Matthews,
As one would expect of a serious GOP presidential contender, Rick Perry does not support most efforts to reduce carbon emissions. But unlike, for example, Mitt Romney, he does not believe in the science behind climate change either. Rank and file Democrats “know we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists, and that draconian policies with dire economic effects based on so-called science may not stand the test of time,” he wrote in his book “Fed Up! The Fight to Save America From Washington” last year (page 92). This is incorrect on two counts. Politifact has reviewed similar statements and ruled both the claim that the Earth is cooling, and the claim that scientists differ on global warming, to be false. Perry has cited Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has called global warming a “hoax,” approvingly, and said he will refuse to watch Al Gore’s PowerPoint on global warming until Gore — whose 1988 presidential campaign then-Democrat Perry chaired in Texas — admits it contains errors.
His record as Texas governor matches the rhetoric. He filed a lawsuit against the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations on behalf of the state, a suit widely expected to fail. Perry has said that he prays daily for the EPA rules to be reversed. He has consistently defended oil and coal interests in Texas, notably dubbing the BP oil well blowout an “act of God” and opposing the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate offshore drilling in the wake of the disaster. He also fast-tracked environmental permits for a number of coal plants in 2005, cutting in half the normal review period. His transportation agenda similarly does not reflect any concern about emissions, as he did not compete for federal high speed rail funding and has kept state funds focused on roads rather than mass transit.
The one environmental bright spot of Perry’s record is wind power, which is a major growth industry in Texas. Perry backed a renewable energy standard passed when George W. Bush was governor, and signed a tougher version into law in 2005. The bill has already met its targets, which had a deadline of 2025. However, despite installing solar panels at the governor’s mansion, he has refused to expand the standard to include solar. But overall, one shouldn’t expect federal action on climate change or clean energy if Perry, who called the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill an “economic disaster,” wins the presidency. As Grover Norquist told Politico, “If Perry was president, one of the things I’d not worry about is a carbon tax. ... I’d worry about big spiders eating New Jersey first.”