The reality show that was the GOP VP nominating process is now at an end. Trump to Mike Pence: You’re hired.
Many Republican strategists hope this is good news for the party’s prospects in November up and down the ballot. For Americans who care about clean energy and the environment, it’s more trouble ahead.
Part of the narrative about Pence is that he balances the ticket by being more temperamentally moderate than Trump and yet more ideologically reassuring to conservatives on issues such as trade. But let’s be clear on the implications for clean energy and environmental policy, Donald Trump has doubled-down on his dirty positions where the extremist Pence is no moderate.
The following is a first-take view of Pence’s record on key environmental policies.
He’s a climate denier. Here Pence’s double-play on Trump is undeniable. Like Trump he does not believe the science on climate change warrants action to fight it. Instead he calls the science “mixed” as a way of justifying inaction, and then like Trump has called for scrapping Obama’s plan to clean up old, dirty coal-fired power plants and for getting the polluting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline built.
He was a consistent opponent of environmental protection as a member of Congress. He has a career record of voting for the environment only 4% of the time in the U.S. House of Representatives, as scored by the League of Conservation Voters. What more can you say? This includes a bewildering history of voting at times against cleaner air and water, increased safety for potentially hazardous chemicals, and reduced taxpayer subsidies for polluting industries.
He let progress on clean energy get whacked as governor. Environmental policy hasn’t been in the forefront of state politics during his three-and-a-half years as governor, but he has shown his colors when he has had a chance. In March of 2014 he allowed the legislature to repeal Energizing
Indiana, a program that had helped utility customers cost-effectively reduce their energy consumption while creating 19,000 jobs, according to an independent study.
He is into the pockets of big polluting donors. Given that Pence is a reliable vote for electric utilities and other coal interests, it’s not surprising that companies and individuals with a vested interest in these matters have channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to him in the past year. Look for this amount to balloon as the Trump-Pence ticket moves to the general election.
Maybe it was too much to hope that Trump would balance the ticket by getting someone with at least an open mind about how a clean environment and a healthy economy can go together. If nothing else, though, the Pence choice makes doubly clear what the pro-environment choice is this fall.