Here I am relaxing on a Sunday morning with my double-espresso watching CNN’s Jake Tapper spend nearly thirty minutes interviewing Vice-President Mike Pence on a variety of issues when it happened…
“I want to ask you a question about climate change,” Tapper begins. “The director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, said in a January report on worldwide threats that the climate emergency is — quote – ‘likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress and social discontent.’
“The EPA this week, however, rolled back part of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, letting states set their own limit for coal power plants emissions.”
And here comes the question for the vice-president.
“Do you believe,” Tapper asks, “human-induced climate emergency is a threat to the United States?”
“Well,” Pence begins, “we will always follow the science on that in this administration.”
And that’s when it happened: I almost burned myself spilling my espresso when Pence said, “we will always follow the science… in this administration.”
“The science says it is,” Tapper points out.
And here comes the Pence mini-filibuster.
“But what we won’t do – and the Clean Power Plan was all about that – was hamstringing energy in this country, raising the cost of utility rates for working families across this country.”
“But is it a threat?” Tapper asks again.
And this is where the vice-president enters the weeds of obfuscation.
“While other nations like China and India absolutely do nothing or make illusory promises decades down the road to deal with it. You know, the truth of the matter is, with the advent of natural gas, with the natural gas explosion that is developing…”
“…with clean coal technology, we’re seeing – we’re seeing a significant reduction in carbon emissions all across this country.”
Fact-check: The term “clean coal,” FactCheck.org points out, is “annoyingly nebulous.” It’s true that after much regulation the process has improved, but there is a lot more to be done. Read the Fact-Check piece, Mr. Vice-President.
Okay, back to Tapper as he again, asks, “But is what people are calling a climate emergency, is it a threat? Do you think it is a threat, man-made climate emergency is a threat?”
“I think the answer to is going to be based upon the science.”
Pence says it, again!
“Well, the science says yes.” Tapper points out for a second time.
“Well…” the vice-president says, searching for the right answer, because he knows who’s watching CNN right now.
“I’m asking you what you think,” Tapper asks, again.
“There are many in the science that…” Pence is clearly looking nervous because Tapper, like others, has done his homework.
And Tapper brings out his list. “The science community in your own administration, at NOAA…
“I got it…”
“… at the DNI,” Tapper continues, “they all say it is a threat.”
“I got it. Look, what the President…”
Always a bad sign when Pence tries to translate Trump.
“But you won’t, for some reason…”
Tapper continues to push for a personal opinion. “But you won’t, for some reason…”
“… has said,” Pence, searching, again. “What we have said is that we’re not going to raise utility rates. Remember what President Obama said?”
“But it is not a threat?”
“…has said — he said — he had his climate change plan. He said it is necessarily going to cause utility rates to skyrocket, and that would force us into these green technologies.”
Pence is falling back on the ol’ break-the-bank gambit.
“Now you have got Democrats,” Pence continues, “all running for president that are running on a Green New Deal that would break this economy.”
And Tapper is just trying to get a straight answer from Pence in which the Trump Administration’s own officials label climate change as a serious threat.
“Okay,” Tapper says trying to reverse the question. “So you don’t think it is a threat, is all I’m saying? You don’t think it is a threat?”
“I think we’re making great progress reducing carbon emissions, America has the cleanest air and water in the world. We will continue to use market forces…”
“That is not true,” Tapper points out. “We don’t have the cleanest air and water in the world.”
Let’s go to the highlight reel from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (And at the bottom of the page, NASA offers a long list of research links.):
Global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, decreased snow cover, sea levels rising, declining arctic sea ice, extreme events like hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, ocean acidification.
Memo to VP Pence: Mike, the evidence is overwhelming. If you want to speak to an audience of one, you’re better off doing it directly in the Oval Office, or save it for the welcome wagon at Fox & Friends.