Sanders: GOP thinks climate change isn't real because of Kochs

Sanders: GOP thinks climate change isn't real because of Kochs

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump's move to halt family separations leaves questions unanswered Sanders: 'Democrats have been serious about comprehensive immigration reform' Races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries MORE (I-Vt.) said late Wednesday that Republicans think climate change isn't real because of the billionaire Koch brothers and other big energy interests.

“When you look at the Republican Party today, you know, which is reactionary in so many areas ... most of these guys deny the reality of climate change or they say, ‘we’re not sure,’ ” the Democratic presidential candidate told host Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s “All In.”

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“How do you think that happens?” Sanders asked. "It happens because the Republican Party is significantly funded by the Koch brothers and the big energy companies.

“And the day after some Republican gets up there and says, ‘you know, I read this stuff here, I think climate change is real [and] we’ve got to do something,' their funding is gone, and they’re going to be primaried,” he added.

Sanders also predicted that fossil fuel powers like David and Charles Koch will have a significant impact on next year’s presidential election.

“[The] Koch brothers are on record as saying they will spend $900 million in this campaign cycle,” he said. "They make most of their money through fossil fuel.

“The other big energy companies certainly will not be far behind,” Sanders said.

The Vermont lawmaker then argued energy corporations are obscuring the dangers of climate change in the interest of profit.

“When you have people like the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil today spending huge amounts of money trying to deny that reality, it slows up the entire world from aggressively addressing what is an international crisis,” Sanders said. "This is serious stuff.

“I think public consciousness is growing that climate change is real,” he said. "People are seeing it with their own eyes.  

“They’re seeing it in the Southwest and other areas in terms of forest fires, which are worse and more numerous than used to be the case,” he added. “They’re seeing it in a heat wave in Pakistan. 

“They’re seeing it with their own eyes and they’re saying, ‘yes, we better do something about it.’ ”

Sanders called for a Justice Department investigation Tuesday into whether ExxonMobil Corp.’s climate change research strategy violated federal law.

He was inspired by a recent InsideClimateNews investigation that discovered Exxon might have concluded in the 1970s that climate change was a real threat but might have later lobbied against that conclusion before its merger with Mobil.

“These reports, if true, raise serious allegations of a misinformation campaign that may have caused public harm similar to the tobacco industry’s actions — conduct that led to federal racketeering convictions,” the senator wrote in a Tuesday letter.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another Democratic White House hopeful, is also calling for a DOJ probe into the matter.

Exxon has countered it has extensively funded climate change research without ever violating any code of ethics.

“Our scientists and researchers were among the first to grapple with the fact there might be a connection between the carbon dioxide emissions from humanity’s use of fossil fuels and climate fluctuations,” Ken Cohen, Exxon’s top lobbyist, wrote in a recent blog post.

“It should surprise no one that we have remained committed to pursuing climate change research since that initial discovery.”