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Monday, December 5, 2016

Where does Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) stand on climate change? It depends on when you ask him.

In Tuesday’s Senate debate against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall, Gardner could not bring himself to declare whether or not humans are contributing to climate change. During a “yes or no questions” section of the debate, moderator Chuck Plunkett of the Denver Post asked, “Do you believe humans are contributing significantly to climate change?”

Gardner immediately launched into an explanation, ignoring the instructions to answer in one word. “Well I’ve said all along–” Gardner began. Even with further prompting from Plunkett, Gardner refused to answer with a “yes” or “no”, explaining, “Look, this is an important issue and I don’t think you can say yes or no.”

After flailing for a decisive answer on the matter, Gardner’s final response was, “I believe the climate is changing. I disagree to the extent that it’s been in the news that man is causing it.”

But just one day before, Gardner had stated that “there is no doubt that pollution contributes to the climate changing around us.” He then diverted attention away from his own views on climate change by attacking Udall.

“What I refuse to do is support a climate tax bill like Waxman/Markey put in place… We hear people talk about putting a price on carbon, but they won’t talk about how much that price of carbon is. Let’s just have an answer: What is the price? Is it $5 a month, is $10 a month, is it $20 a month? Senator Udall, am I not going high enough?” Gardner said.

The Waxman/Markey bill to which Gardner refers is from 2009, when Coloradan Elizabeth Markey voted in favor of energy legislation that would have reduced carbon emissions. Back then, Gardner said he did not believe humans were causing climate change the way that the media was portraying it. “I think the climate is changing, but I don’t believe humans are causing that change to the extent that’s been in the news,” Gardner explained, as quoted by Colorado’s 9news.

This year, Gardner was one of 24 Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who voted down an amendment that would have affirmed the existence of climate change.

The debate on Tuesday highlighted Gardner’s indecision about how to best handle the issue. Locked in an especially tight race, Gardner could use any moderate votes he might be able to glean with a lenient view on climate change. Instead, he waffled and argued with Plunkett, pleading, “I don’t think we should shortchange serious issues with yes or no answers without being able to talk about them now.”

Plunkett responded that “these yes or no questions are meant to be answered yes or no, because they should come from a core belief that you would hold.”

When Plunkett asked Senator Udall the same question, Mark Udall barely paused before answering with a  simple “Yes.”

The Huffington Post Pollster aggregate model shows Gardner and Udall virtually tied at 46 percent.

Screenshot: Cory Gardner for Senate/YouTube

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