Elise Stefanik, No. 3 House Republican, endorses coal lobbyist for Congress

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Mike Carey has worked for the coal industry for over a decade and was an executive

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik on Tuesday endorsed Ohio congressional candidate Mike Carey, a lobbyist for the coal industry who has played a significant role in attacking climate science.

"I'm proud to stand with President Trump in officially endorsing @MikeCareyOH15 for Congress," Stefanik, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, tweeted.

Carey is running in a November special election to fill the 15th District seat vacated by former Rep. Steve Stivers (R) who resigned in May to run Ohio's chamber of commerce. There are 11 Republican candidates in the field thus far, as well as two Democrats. The seat has been rated as "solid" Republican by the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Carey in June.

On his official campaign website, in addition to describing himself as "pro-Trump," Carey identifies himself as an "outsider" who is "ready to fight." However, he has deep roots in politics, both inside the Republican Party and as a lobbyist for the coal industry.

In 2011, Politico described Carey and his work on behalf of the coal industry as a "one-man wrecking ball for Democrats who have strayed too far green for voters' liking." He has been behind campaigns targeting Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and former President Barack Obama in 2008, on their pro-environment stances.

Starting in 2012, Carey began working for American Consolidated Natural Resources (ACNR), formerly known as Murray Energy Corporation, the country's fourth-largest coal mining company, which was founded in 1988 by GOP donor and Trump ally Robert Murray. Carey has also served as Chairman of the Board for the Ohio Coal Association.

Carey's LinkedIn page shows that, as the vice president of government affairs at ACNR — which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019 — he is "responsible for all federal legislative and regulatory activities" for the company. According to documents made public at the time of the bankruptcy filing, ANCR financed climate change denial efforts during Carey's time as an executive there.

The New York Times reported that ANCR previously gave $200,000 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think-tank which has made several false or misleading assertions about climate change. In one instance, experts claimed the institute allegedly misused researcher data to claim that the Antarctic ice sheet is getting thicker, with the researcher himself claiming it was "a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate."

The company also gave $130,000 to the Heartland Institute, which, according to the Times, has sponsored climate change deniers who spoke at climate-related conferences at the United Nations.

In 2011, Carey reportedly spoke at a conference that organizers billed as being in support of "enhanc[ing] our carbon footprint for the sake of the plants and trees."

Stefanik's support for Carey, at the highest levels of Republican congressional leadership, comes as many states face extreme weather events that have been at least partly attributed to climate change. Recent analysis from the group World Weather Attribution found that the July heatwave that produced temperatures of 116 degrees in Portland, Oregon, for instance, could be traced to changes in climate.

While such heat spikes are historically rare, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute told the New York Times that the most recent bout "would have been virtually impossible without climate change."

Frigid temperatures and icy blizzards have also plagued parts of the nation typically unfamiliar with such events; according to Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a scientific research company, climate change was at least partly to blame for the winter storms that knocked out power for millions of Texans back in February as well.

"The current conditions in Texas are historical, certainly generational. But this can’t be hand-waved away as if it’s entirely natural," Cohen told the Guardian that month, citing data he said showed the heating Arctic was contributing to disruptions in the polar vortex, leading to more winter storms in the United States and elsewhere.

"This is happening not in spite of climate change, it's in part due to climate change," he added.

Despite these increases, Republican lawmakers have opposed provisions in Biden administration proposals that address climate issues, and have continued to deny or underplay climate science to boost their agendas.

For instance, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in June referred to Democratic officials supporting green policies as "scaremongers" and called climate science "bullshit."

A month prior, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), in an interview on Fox Business, said nothing substantive could be done about climate change because "the Moon's orbit is apparently changing some, the Earth's orbit is changing some, according to NASA."

Should Carey win the special election, his past actions and statements indicate he is likely to reinforce the party's opposition to reforms that are needed to tackle climate change.

"Our nation is blessed with an abundance of coal, natural gas, and oil that provide the base load electricity needed to power our lives and our future. President Trump understood that fact and embraced a true all of the above energy strategy that made the United States energy independent for the first time in over 60 years," Carey states on his official campaign website.

"We must invest in new fossil fuel technologies as well as renewables because we need more electricity to run a 21st century economy, not less," he adds. "... Energy makes modern life possible and the Democrats are holding America back."