Head of Environment Subcommittee Not So Sure About Climate Change

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Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 20 2013 11:43 AM

New Chair of House Environment Subcommittee Not So Sure About Climate Change

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The Capitol Rotunda

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah was named chair of the Subcommittee on Environment (under the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee). The appointment of the freshman congressman has raised some eyebrows: Stewart, who now heads up congressional oversight of the EPA, isn't so sure about climate change.  

Yesterday, the Salt Lake City Tribune asked the congressman for his take on climate change. His response? 

"I’m not as convinced as a lot of people are that man-made climate change is the threat they think it is ... I think it is probably not as immediate as some people do ... What is the real threat? What are the economic impacts of those threats? And what are the economic impacts of those remedies? ... Some of the remedies are more expensive to our economy than the threat may turn out to be."
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In case you've forgotten, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is "very likely due to human activities," as NASA explains. They have a round-up of statements endorsing this finding from virtually every major American scientific society. 

Mother Jones asked Stewart to clarify his views on climate change, and here's what he told them in a statement: 

"Climate change is also an extraordinarily complicated discipline. Because of this, it is vital that we ensure that policy decisions are based upon sound science. Before we make any long-lasting policy decisions that could negatively affect our economy, we need to be certain that the science behind our decisions is sound."

Stewart's qualifications to judge the soundness of climate change science apparently come from his time running the Shipley Group, which trains federal workers and businesses to meet federal environmental guidelines. As the Salt Lake City Tribune points out, Stewart has denied that his policy stances have anything to do with the Davis County oil refineries in his congressional district, or the $40,000 in oil and gas associated donations he received for his 2012 campaign.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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