In 2020, Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance said, 'We of course have a climate problem in our society.' Now he says there isn't one.
Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance has spent the past several weeks attacking clean energy infrastructure investments and lying about whether climate change is a problem. But a just-announced $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery facility in Ohio and his own previous comments undermine his latest claims.
Vance, a millionaire venture capitalist and author with a history of flip-flopping on political issues, has repeatedly criticized his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan, for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act last month. That law will make $369 billion available for energy and climate change infrastructure, make health care and prescription drugs more affordable for millions of Americans, and reduce the federal budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.
In an interview on the right-wing "Clay Travis & Buck Sexton" radio talk show on July 28, Vance dismissed both climate science and electric vehicles.
After Sexton said that he did not believe there really is any climate crisis, Vance concurred:
No, I don't think there is, either. And even if there was a climate crisis, I don't know how the way to solve it is to buy more Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles. The whole EV thing is a scam, right? So set to the side these questions about, you know, how much carbon drives the climate change situation. Look, I'm with you on this. I do not wake up in the morning thinking, [We've got] a climate crisis we need to destroy the economy to deal with.
"I gotta say, Stu, this Inflation Reduction Act, which is a ridiculous name for this thing, what it basically does is subsidize rich people to buy electric vehicles at the expense of the Ohio automotive industry. It's gonna put a lot of Ohioans out of work," Vance told Fox Business' Stuart Varney on Aug. 8, calling the Inflation Reduction Act "a joke of an economic program."
"Tim Ryan's green new deal is little more than a handout to Chinese companies at the expense of Ohio workers," he tweeted on Aug. 12. "It's dumb, does nothing for the environment, and will make us all poorer. I wish he'd stick to renaming post offices."
In another tweet that day, he mocked Ryan's vote for the package's electric vehicle tax credits — as well as his attire — writing, "Hey guys I just gave a bunch of rich people tax credits to buy EVs but I have these awesome pink shorts."
A Vance spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
But it appears that Ohio workers will actually benefit from the Democratic majority's clean energy investments: The Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included billions of dollars to support electric vehicle-related manufacturing in the United States, are helping to spur new jobs in the state.
On Monday, electronics giant LG and car manufacturer Honda announced plans to build a $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery production facility in Ohio. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and production to commence by 2025.
"Making stuff in America once again. You absolutely love to see it," cheered Ryan in a tweet.
Back in February 2020, Vance acknowledged that climate change is real, dangerous, and caused by humans.
In a speech at a conference hosted by the Center for Ethics and Human Values at The Ohio State University, Vance lamented that technological progress on many fronts has slowed in recent years. "Think about energy," he said:
We of course have a climate problem in our society, one largely caused now by unrestrained emissions in China. Part of the reason we have that problem is because we're not generating energy much cleaner than we used to 30 or 40 years ago. In fact, the biggest improvement in emissions is solar energy, which can provide a substantial amount of our power, but can't provide anything like 50% of our power. Definitely not 100% of our power, and through, sort of, our increasing reliance on natural gas, which of course is an improvement over dirtier forms of power but isn't exactly the sort of thing that's gonna take us to a clean energy future.
Vance has also flip-flopped on his position on the viability of coal as a source of fuel.
At DePaul University's Chicago Ideas festival in October 2019, he observed:
I think that the idea that we're gonna bring back hundreds of thousands of coal jobs in Appalachia is probably, almost certainly, in fact, not true, that the big reason that coal has become so much less of a significant employer, or the two reasons are, one, you can produce a lot more coal with a lot fewer people because mechanization has been very successful in increasing productivity in the coal industry, and also, coal is just not as economically viable of a fuel source, as an energy source in the era of natural gas and all the renewables that you just talked about.
But on July 29 of this year, Vance tweeted, "All of this 'bring American manufacturing back' from the Democrats is fake unless we stop the green energy fantasy. Solar panels can't power a modern manufacturing economy. That's why the Chinese are building coal power plants, something Tim Ryan's donors won't let America do."
Recent polls have shown the race between Vance and Ryan for the open seat of retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman to be a toss-up.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.