In their own words: The Republican presidential field on climate change

A rift is emerging among the leading GOP contenders for the presidential nomination over climate change.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for example, have rejected the scientific consensus that human beings are a leading contributor to global warming, with Perry even suggesting this week that scientists are manipulating climate data (the Washington Post fact checks that claim here).

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman have staked out a different position. They acknowledge that climate change is occurring and human beings are a cause, even though they oppose policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions like cap and trade.

Here's a round-up of comments from all the leading GOP presidential candidates about climate change.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry:

“I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data, so that they will have dollars rolling into their, to their projects,” Perry said in New Hampshire this week.


“I think we're seeing almost weekly or even daily scientists who are coming forward and questioning, the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change,” Perry continued, noting that he believes the climate is changing, but it has been doing so “ever since the Earth was formed.”

Perry also blasted proposals like cap-and-trade aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, arguing they would cost the public “billions, if not trillions of dollars.”

“I don't think from my perspective I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective is more and more being put into question,” he said.

Perry, in his book, “Fed Up!,” called global warming “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight."

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.):

“I believe that all of these issues need to be settled on the basis of real science, not manufactured science,” Bachmann said in South Carolina this week when asked about climate change.

Bachmann has also raised questions about the scientific consensus surrounding climate change.

“What is the problem? Why do we have to have this tax in the first place? It’s about carbon dioxide. Well, what is carbon dioxide? Let’s just go to a fundamental question. Carbon dioxide, Mr. Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature. Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can’t even exist without carbon dioxide, so necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that’s on the Earth, to the fowl that flies in the air. We need to have carbon dioxide as a part of the fundamental lifecycle of the Earth,” Bachmann said on the House floor in 2009 during debate on the cap-and-trade bill.

Bachmann is also a vocal critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, which she has vowed to rein in as president.

“And I guarantee you the EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off and they will only be about conservation. It will be a new day and a new sheriff in Washington, D.C.,” she said in Iowa this month.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past, but I believe we contribute to that,” Romney said in New Hampshire in June, noting that he opposes policies like cap-and-trade.

Former ambassador to China and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman:

“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Huntsman tweeted this week after Perry made his comments questioning climate science.

“This is an issue that ought to be answered by the scientific community; I’m not a meteorologist. All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them. I respect science and the professionals behind the science so I tend to think it’s better left to the science community — though we can debate what that means for the energy and transportation sectors,” Huntsman said in a May interview with Time magazine.

Businessman Herman Cain:

“I don't believe global warming is real. Do we have climate change? Yes. Is it a crisis? No. And this is why I strongly oppose the cap and trade and tax and kill bill that Congress passed, even though it didn't get through the Senate yet,” Cain said in a June interview with CBS News.

Cain attended attended a June rally organized by Americans for Prosperity in which conservatives slammed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program in the Northeastern part of the United States.

He said RGGI should be renamed the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Rip-off.”

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas):


“You know, the greatest hoax I think that has been around in many, many years if not hundreds of years has been this hoax on the environment and global warming. You notice they don’t call it global warming anymore. It’s weather control,” Paul said in a Nov. 2009 interview with Fox Business.

“Eliminate the ineffective EPA. Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create — not to Washington,” Paul says on his campaign website.

Former Rep. Rick Santorum:

“I believe the earth gets warmer, and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man through the production of CO2 which is a trace gas in the atmosphere and the manmade part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors, El Nino, La Nina, sunspots, you know, moisture in the air,” Santorum said on The Rush Limbaugh Show in June.

“There's a variety of factors that contribute to the earth warming and cooling, and to me this is an opportunity for the left to create — it's a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm.  It's been on a warming trend so they said, 'Oh, let's take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it's getting warmer,' just like they did in the seventies when it was getting cool, they needed the government to come in and regulate your life because it's getting cooler," he continued.

“It's just an excuse for more government control of your life, and I've never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich:

Gingrich appeared in a 30-second television commercial with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2008 in which he said, the “country must take action to address climate change."

But he now says the commercial was a mistake.

"I was trying to make a point that we shouldn't be afraid to debate the left, even on the environment," Gingrich said on WGIR radio in July. "Obviously it was misconstrued, and it's probably one of those things I wouldn't do again."

Gingrich has also called for eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency and replacing it with what he calls the Environmental Solutions Agency.

In a February speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Gingrich said the Obama EPA is “made up of self-selected bureaucrats” that are seeking to pass wide-ranging regulations that would harm the economy. Instead, he called for an agency that focused on “science, technology, markets and incentives.”