In the final day of this 2012 election campaign, the Romney campaign's strategy to deny climate change and crack jokes about the president pledging to solve the issue may prove to be a poor decision. The mainstream media is connecting the dots that extreme weather is being fueled by climate change (including warmer oceans and melting ice caps in the Arctic). And a major endorsement for President Obama by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, citing climate change as a reason, may move independents to vote for the president.
With record wildfires in Colorado and extreme drought in the Midwest, one may wonder why the Romney campaign chooses to deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and unleash relentless attacks on the clean energy industry.
Look no further than Gov. Romney's campaign press secretary and top spokesperson, Andrea Saul, and her previous employer, the DCI Group, whose clients have included ExxonMobil and Pacific Research Institute, a fossil fuel-funded front group. Two of the firm's founders come from the tobacco industry where they actively worked to create skepticism on the dangers of smoking and, in the past decade, DCI has worked to deny the existence of climate change.
In 2006, after one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons in history, DCI Group issued a press release that purported to make climate science "experts" available to reporters. These experts represented a Who's Who of climate science deniers. Ms. Saul is listed as the media contact on the release saying:
"Coming off one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in recent memory, many are quick to blame the strength and frequency of these storms on global warming. Leading climate scientists, however, say there is no link between increased storm activity and a massive change in global climate."
With clients like ExxonMobil and the Pacific Research Institute (funded by Koch Industries-funded State Policy Network), it is no surprise that DCI Group would put out a release denying that climate change increases the intensity and frequency of extreme hurricanes.
But the connections of the Romney campaign to the fossil fuel industry and industry-funded PR professionals go far beyond Ms. Saul. Matt Rhoades, another DCI Group veteran, is Gov. Romney's campaign manager. Jim Talent, former senator from the great state of Missouri and one of Romney's top policy advisers, is also a coal industry lobbyist and co-chairman at Mercury Public Affairs. Romney's chief energy advisory, Harold Hamm, is an oil billionaire from Oklahoma.
When you put all of these fossil fuel executives, lobbyists and communication professionals into one campaign, it is clear why Mr. Romney continues to deny climate change and attack clean energy -- his advisers have already placed their bets and their careers with the fossil fuel industry. The only question left is: Will Gov. Romney's climate denial hurt him on Election Day?