John Boehner: 'I'm Not Qualified To Debate The Science Over Climate Change'

05/29/2014 11:45 am ET | Updated May 29, 2014
  • Kate Sheppard Senior reporter and the environment and energy editor, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is preparing to roll out new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants on Monday, and the rules are already drawing criticism from congressional Republicans.

Of course, many of the rules' opponents are not even convinced that the issue the rules seek to address -- namely, climate change -- is even a problem at all. The Republican-led House Science Committee is holding a hearing on Thursday morning questioning the most recent scientific reports on climate change.

A reporter asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) at Thursday morning's Republican leadership press conference if, given his stated concerns about EPA regulations, "Are there steps you would support to take action against climate change, and do you think that's a problem?"

Boehner's response didn't exactly answer the question.

"Well, listen. I'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change. But I am astute enough to understand that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs," said Boehner. "That can't be the prescription for dealing with changes in our climate."

The speaker's low estimation of his grasp of the science has not prevented him in the past from casting doubt on the idea that climate change is a problem that can be attributed to human activity, and particularly the burning of fossil fuels.

In 2009, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Boehner what the Republican plan to deal with carbon emissions would be, and Boehner dismissed the concern. "George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical," said Boehner. "Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide." He went on to suggest, though, that Republicans would come up with a plan.

In 2012, without then having offered any such plan, he told USA Today, "I don't think there's any doubt that we've had climate change over the last 100 years. What has initiated it, though, has sparked a debate that's gone on now for the last 10 years ... I don't think we're any closer to the answer than we were 10 years ago."

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