Is Marco Rubio the Worst Climate Denier in Congress? | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Is Marco Rubio the Worst Climate Denier in Congress?

Marco Rubio hasn't been a friend to the environment.

We know this.

You know this.

But is he the worst climate denier in Congress?

That might be up for debate, but we're going out on a limb and say, pretty much yes.

Mainly because he's the senator from Florida, and all indications are that Florida is sinking into the ocean.

And also, because he's very much likely going to be the GOP favorite for the White House in 2016.

See also: Marco Rubio Is Ignoring Threats to South Florida's Environment

The nonprofit environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund is on a "Dirty Deniers" campaign in which it targets a different member of Congress who has denied climate change and ignored scientific studies showing us all that the planet is in very big trouble unless we start cleaning stuff up immediately.

In the past couple of years, Rubio has inexplicably walked around the question on the age of the Earth and has flat-out refused to acknowledge that climate change is man-made -- even in the face of science telling him otherwise.

"Rubio is denier and hedger of his bets," NRDC Action Fund Director Heather Taylor-Miesle tells New Times. "His denials are especially outrageous because of the cities of the state where he's from are being directly impacted by climate change."

Indeed. Back in June, a National Climate Assessment study found that South Florida is, in fact, "exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise."

"Rubio not only has access to the best science available to members of Congress but he chooses to ignore it," Taylor-Miesle says. "He sees the numbers and knows what they say, but he's choosing money and politics over science."

Rubio made the NRDC Action Fund's Dirty Deniers list for good reason. But it hasn't always been this way.

There was a time when Rubes was a champion of the environment, going so far as calling for Florida to lead the way in environmental changes and jobs and envisioning the state as "the Silicon Valley" of the environment.

This Marco Rubio apparently doesn't exist anymore. Jump ahead into the future, and this video's image of Rubio will slowly start to disappear like Marty McFly and his siblings in the photograph from Back to the Future.

Somewhere along the way, Rubio got caught up in the Tea Party dragnets and also began to realize that his beliefs on the environment did not match the beliefs of those who give him big money to stay in office.

And that's pretty much the bottom line. Money over science and, you know, not allowing Florida to sink.

Since 2009, Rubio has received $281,716 from the oil and gas industry. In 2010, Koch Industries stepped up and gave Rubio a big-ass check for $32,200, which was more money than any other Senate candidate got.

This, in turn, got Rubio voting in favor of Koch, which is regarded as one of the biggest polluters in the country.

Since receiving the Koch's check, Rubio has made even more friends.

Club For Growth became his biggest campaign contributors, and Rubio was invited as an exclusive guest to speak at the Kochs' Secret Billionaire Summit.

And then, of course, came Rubio flat-out refusing to side with science and facts.

After the White House released the findings from the National Climate Assessment, Rubio stepped up to the plate to lash out against science and reason.

Rubio questioned the reasons for running with just what scientists say, and that all that dirty CO2 that's coming from nuclear plants and wrecking the environment really isn't all man's fault.

"I think it's an enormous threat to say that every weather incident that we now read about is -- or the majority of them are -- attributable to human activity," Rubio told CNN in an interview following the National Climate Assessment findings.

Time and again, Rubio has voted against the environment, slowly making Florida disappear into the ocean with every vote while making 2007 Marco Rubio disappear into the ether.

Rubio has admitted that scientists are right about climate change but has vehemently questioned man's roll in it. Rubio has also tried to turn all this climate change talk back onto the Obama administration, wondering of spending money on trying to keep places like Florida from going all Lost Continent of Atlantis is fiscally responsible.

Rubio is very much the face of the GOP at the moment and, unless Jeb Bush jumps into the fray, he's going to be the frontrunner as the party's nominee.

Then it's up to reason.

"He cannot win the White House while rejecting science," Taylor-Miesle says.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter