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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has taken tremendous strides toward combating climate change and the dangers that it poses. But he hasn’t gotten much help from Congress — and now that Republicans hold majority control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, he probably never will.

Although scientists overwhelmingly agree that human activity has caused the climate to rapidly warm over the past century, the majority of congressional Republicans flatly deny the facts.

Here are five of the most notable climate truthers in the 114th Congress:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Rep. Smith, a 14-term Republican from Texas, currently serves as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He is also an outspoken climate change truther who seems to believe that scientists and the liberal media are teaming up to mislead Americans about the threat. In November, Smith shrugged off a frightening United Nations report on climate change as “clearly biased,” before acknowledging that he didn’t actually read it.

Despite not having faced a competitive election in nearly two decades, Smith has raised more than $600,000 from the oil and gas industry throughout his career — including $112,050 in the last election cycle alone.

Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)
Rep. Weber, chairman of the House Subcommitee on Energy, is a relative newcomer to Congress; he was elected to succeed Rep. Ron Paul in 2012. But he’s quickly become known for his strident refusal to accept the facts on climate change. Most notably, Weber attempted to ridicule White House science advisor John Holdren during a hearing last March, and ended up making a fool of himself.

Weber — who, ironically, owns an air conditioning company — is a favorite of the oil and gas industry; it donated $87,250 to him in the last election cycle, nearly double the total he raised from any other industry.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Senator Cory Gardner moved up from the House in 2014, when he defeated environmentalist Democrat Mark Udall in a significant upset. Along the way, he refused to answer questions about climate change — a strategy that actually represented a minor step forward from his previous insistence that “I don’t believe humans are causing that change.”

Gardner currently sits on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources — which helps to explain why the oil and gas industry contributed $658,049 to his campaign, second to only Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) among House members.

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Jim Inhofe is one of the world’s most outspoken climate change deniers. During his tenure in Congress, Inhofe has described global warming as the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” compared Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, insisted that climate change is impossible because “God’s still up there,” and attempted to disprove the scientific consensus with a snowball, among other incidents.

Unsurprisingly, Inhofe is also beloved by the oil and gas industry; it contributed $576,250 to him in 2014, and nearly $2 million throughout his career — easily the highest total of any industry.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senator Cruz chairs the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, which oversees NASA and the National Science Foundation, among other responsibilities.

This is very bad news for NASA and the National Science Foundation, given Cruz’s proud hostility to science. The newly minted presidential candidate is under the mistaken impression that global warming ceased in 1997, and that cold weather disproves climate change altogether. He also appears to believe that his ignorance on the topic makes him a modern-day Galileo.

Over Cruz’s brief four-year career as a federal candidate, he has raised a whopping $1,086,368 from the oil and gas industry.

Photo: CSIS: Center for Strategic & International Studies via Flickr

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