Washington Republican Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley avoids questions on how to deal with climate change that is already affecting her state.
Washington Republican Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley has refused to say whether she accepts the scientific consensus that climate change is real and is caused by human activity.
Smiley, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in the midterm election that ends Nov. 8, was asked directly during a debate on Oct. 23 about whether humans are contributing to climate change and what should be done about it. She dodged the question, saying: "I grew up on a farm. You know, farmers, there's no better stewards of the land than farmers, and I believe in protecting our planet, doing everything I can."
After mentioning her endorsements by conservative organizations with names like "American Conservation Coalition" and what she called "Conservative Conservation Climate Solutions" and suggesting planting more trees, Smiley accused Murray of having "shut down our energy independence and she gave it to enemy countries that hate us. Last time I checked, China and Russia, they don't have any environmental standards. So if we really care about the planet, we will do it right here where we do it best. Because we are ruining our planet by allowing these enemy countries who have no standards to emit emissions in our air."
Smiley's campaign website contains a section titled "Energy and Environmental Recovery and Reform." It makes no mention of the word "climate" and proposes "restoring production of domestic oil and natural gas." It suggests "expanding American natural gas production and oil refining capacity to achieve energy independence and reduce gas prices in the short term" while also "expanding clean energy capacity, including reducing regulations for nuclear, wind and solar power to diversify our energy supply in the long term."
Smiley opposed the Inflation Reduction Act, which invested $369 billion in energy and climate change infrastructure and did so without raising taxes for anyone making under $400,000. "It makes no sense to increase taxes in a recession, yet Patty Murray enthusiastically supports this bill. If she thinks a tax increase on farmers and businesses helps the economy she's clearly out of touch with reality. Time for new leadership in WA!" she tweeted on Aug 3.
Smiley has criticized President Joe Biden's administration for rejecting a permit for the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposal to enable the movement of tar sands oil from Canada to be refined in the Gulf of Mexico that opponents say is dangerous to the environment. Her website makes the claim: "In 2019 America was energy independent, but from Day One this administration and their allies in the Senate have done everything in their power to crush our country’s energy industry - from canceling the Keystone Pipeline to restricting permits and increasing royalties. The result has been skyrocketing energy prices that are crushing hard working Washington families."
The claim that high energy prices are the fault of the Biden administration has already been fact-checked and shown to be false.
Smiley attacked the administration's efforts to reduce carbon emissions from armed services vehicles. "As if making my point, the President announced a plan to spend billions making every military vehicle climate friendly," she tweeted April 25. "Green humvees are not the concerns impacting WA families right now- it's crime and the economy."
Smiley, who has pushed for more energy deregulation and fossil fuel drilling, received $5,000 in PAC contributions from Koch Industries, $1,500 from the Energy Marketers of America, and $750 from Pantheon Oil and Gas CEO John Cheatham.
Smiley's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
While Smiley dismisses the importance of climate change and embraces local action, experts are warning that worldwide action is needed immediately to stave off global catastrophe. In August 2021, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a "code red" warning that global warming can "have profound consequences for the world's social, economic and natural systems" without immediate steps being taken to reverse it.
According to the Washington state Department of Ecology, "Washington faces serious impacts to its snowpack, infrastructure, and water supplies as the climate changes and temperatures climb."
A 2020 report by the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington found that the total area of the North Cascades glaciers has dropped 56% since 1900; spring snowpack in the state declined by roughly 30% on average between 1955 and 2016; and the sea level at Friday Harbor has climbed over 4 inches since 1934.
The Sierra Club's Sierra magazine reported on Oct. 26 that climate change was spurring an increase in western wildfires like the ones in September in Washington's Cascade Range. Those fires sent so much smoke and pollution over Seattle that its air quality temporarily became the worst of any major world city. Poor air quality in Seattle and Tacoma forced schools to cancel all outdoor activities in late October.
Murray has made action to address climate change a top priority.
Her campaign site notes her work in passing the Inflation Reduction Act, "the most significant legislation in U.S. history to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen American energy security. Patty's climate action bill will lower energy costs for Washington state households and businesses, promote real and long-term energy independence, create good-paying manufacturing jobs, and help drastically cut carbon emissions."
Murray has been endorsed for reelection by the BlueGreen Alliance, the NRDC Action Fund, and the Sierra Club.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.