Franken, Perry clash over climate change

Franken, Perry clash over climate change
© Getty

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Minn.) pressed Energy Secretary Rick Perry on the science behind climate change in a testy exchange during a committee hearing Thursday.

Perry was testifying concerning the Trump administration's budget proposal for the Department of Energy when Franken questioned him about his previous statements on climate change. 

Perry had said at his confirmation hearing that he believed that the climate is changing, but on Monday he said that he did not believe that carbon dioxide is the primary cause for warming temperatures. 

ADVERTISEMENT
“I think there are some other naturally occurring events, the warming and the cooling of our ocean waters and some other activities that occur,” Perry explained Thursday. 

“I also said in the next breath that man’s impact does in fact have an impact on the climate,” he continued. “What’s wrong with being a skeptic about something that we’re talking about that’s going to have a massive impact on the American economy?”

Franken quoted from studies that he said illustrate humanity's impact on climate change, something accepted by the vast majority of government and private sector scientists.

“If you say that this is caused by the warming of the oceans, the reason the oceans are warming is because water absorbs the heat, that’s why the sea level is rising,” Franken said, referencing private-sector scientists who believe climate change is completely the result of human activity. 

“There is no peer-reviewed study that doesn’t say this is happening.”

Perry shot back: “Global warming was 100 percent due to human activity? I don’t believe that. 100 percent? Every bit of that global warming? I don’t buy it.”

Perry added, “to stand up and say that 100 percent of global warming is because of human activity, I think on its face, is just indefensible.”

Franken and other Democrats slammed Trump’s budget request for the Energy Department on Thursday, including its proposed 5.4 percent overall budget reduction and its deep cuts to energy research funding.

Franken described the Department of Energy’s budget as “anti-innovation,” accusing it of gutting spending on renewable energy research.

“You seem to be a defense counsel for someone charged with murder, and you seem to be saying ‘I know he’s guilty but I’m going to give him a robust defense,’” Franken said.