Center for American Progress Action

CAP Action War Room Releases Analysis of Governors and Climate Change Denial
Press Release

CAP Action War Room Releases Analysis of Governors and Climate Change Denial

While governors will lead efforts to slash carbon pollution from power plants, more than half of the nation’s Republican executives still deny the science of climate change

Washington, D.C. — Fifteen of 29 sitting Republican governors deny the science of climate change, according to a new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund War Room and Climate Progress. Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus and devastating impacts of climate change, including increased health risks and billions of dollars in economic damages from extreme weather events, more than half of America’s Republican governors are standing with the anti-science members of Congress. None of the country’s Democratic governors have made public statements denying climate change.

In developing the Clean Power Plan to limit the carbon pollution from power plants that is the largest U.S. contributor to climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, heavily engaged governors, who will play an outsized role in the effort’s success. States have already been leaders in slashing the carbon pollution that puts health at risk, and they will be responsible for developing plans to implement the Clean Power Plan that protect public health and take advantage of the economic opportunity of taking action on climate change. More than two-thirds of Americans support the EPA’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

“Governors see the impacts of climate change firsthand, and have a real understanding of the costs related to health, infrastructure, and their state’s economy,” said Ted Strickland, President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and former governor of Ohio. “If the United States is serious about being a leader in addressing climate change and taking advantage of the economic opportunity in clean energy and energy efficiency, it is going to be because states and governors lead the way. The only way the Clean Power Plan is successful is with governors getting on board, as many already have.”

But instead of cutting carbon pollution and investing in clean energy, the 15 Republican governors currently ignoring science have taken more than $15 million in campaign contributions from big polluters over the course of their careers. While their governors count the campaign cash, local communities are suffering. Combined, the states represented by climate-denying governors were hit by 167 climate-fueled extreme weather events requiring a federal disaster declaration in 2011 and 2012 alone. These storms have cost the federal government nearly $17 billion for cleanup.

The report categorizes governors into four groups: Green governors not only accept climate change science but are proactively implementing policies to fight climate change and prepare their states for the impacts of extreme weather. Orange governors either accept climate science or have not openly denied it, but also have not yet taken serious action to help their state prepare for its impacts. If a governor has made no public statement on climate science, has not taken action, or openly objected to federal safeguards that help blunt the impacts of climate change, they are placed in the red category. Governors who deny the science behind climate change are added to the red “climate deniers” category, further marked by striped lines.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Benton Strong at [email protected] or 202-481-8142.