Former presidential candidate and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) is assailing the GOP for its stance on climate change.
In a Tuesday op-ed for the New York Times, Huntsman details the steady decline in the party’s attention to environmental issues.
“So obtuse has become the party’s dialogue on climate change that it’s now been reduced to believing or not believing, as if it were a religious mantra,” Huntsman writes.
It wasn’t always this way, says the one-time U.S. ambassador to China.
In 2008, Republican presidential candidates were working to address climate change. From Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Huntsman states, GOP leaders were concerned about the environment.
That changed last fall when Pew Research Center polled 50 percent of Republicans as saying there was evidence of warming temperatures across the globe, down from the 56 percent in 2006.
That wasn’t the worst to Huntsman, who slammed North Carolina Senate hopefuls for chuckling at a debate question on climate change “as if they had been asked about their belief in the Tooth Fairy.”
Huntsman says the GOP’s approach shouldn’t be denial or extremism.
“We aren’t inspiring much confidence, especially among millennials, who at least want an intelligent conversation on the subject,” he writes, hinting at the ramifications the party may face in the future.
Still, Huntsman states, environmentalists need to be balanced as well and appreciate other perspectives.
That means accepting natural gas as a bridge fuel, or nuclear energy in the shorter-term, he adds.
The former presidential candidate’s view on climate change will likely receive backlash from his own party, especially during a time when the GOP is frustrated with the Obama administration’s "war on coal."
Huntsman’s op-ed may also be a way for him to test some waters for another possible presidential run, which he said he is “open” to in an interview with Larry King set to air Thursday.