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Home Secretary candidate Deb Haaland concluded two days of Senate confirmation hearings on Wednesday in which Republicans appeared determined to label her anti-science – an odd tactic considering she didn’t has no such record. But they do.

Republican Senator John Barrasso (Wyo.), Steve Daines (Mont.) And Bill Cassidy (La.) Have all insisted on Haaland whether she would follow science as Home Secretary. They referenced Tweet from Haaland on October 7 claiming that Republicans do not believe in science and seem to take offense at it.

“Three senators on this committee are doctors,” Barrasso, the main Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Tuesday, noting that he was one of them. “Pretty broad statement you made there… Do you think that as doctors we don’t believe in science? How do you maintain this statement? “

“I hope you respect the science,” Daines told Haaland, a Native American congresswoman who currently represents a district in New Mexico. “I am a chemical engineer. We also have doctors on this committee on the Republican side of the aisle. Hope you will consider removing this unfortunate comment.

Sarah Silbiger / Pool via AP

Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont., Speaks at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the appointment of Representative Debra Haaland, DN.M., as Secretary of the Interior on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Cassidy cited Haaland’s position “as to how Republicans view science” when he asked about President Joe Biden’s decision to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Will your department be driven by science or by something other than science?” asked the Republican of Louisiana. “Because, clearly, the Biden administration was not guided by science. And Republicans, for that matter, are guided by science.

None of the senators mentioned the context of Haaland’s tweet, which took place amid the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate in which current Vice President Kamala Harris described the Trump administration’s disturbing practice of delete the word “science” from various US government websites. Haaland’s tweet came right after the other linked to Harris’ remarks on President Donald Trump’s attacks on science.

“Do you know that this administration took the word ‘science’ off the website? And then you took the phrase “climate change” off the website? »Harris said in this debate. “We saw a pattern with this administration that is they don’t believe in science… Donald Trump, asked about the California wildfires and the question was, you know, ‘Science tells us this,’ do you know what donald trump said? “Science doesn’t know.” “

During the hearing, Haaland kept his response to Barrasso simple: “Senator, yes, if you are a doctor, I guess you believe in science.”

But all three of these senators – medical graduates or not – have a history of rejecting basic science. In a stunning Senate vote in 2015, Barrasso, Daines and Cassidy joined most of their Republican colleagues in rejecting the idea that human activity is “a significant contributor” to climate change, a conclusion on which scientists overwhelmingly agree.

GOP Science Deniers Secretary of the Interior Nominee Deb Haaland Conference on Science

Leigh Vogel / Pool via AP

Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Speaks during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the appointment of Representative Debra Haaland, DN.M., as Secretary of the Interior on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, February 24, 2021

There are many other instances where these senators have resisted science for political or self-serving reasons. Barrasso legislation introduced twice, in 2014 and 2015, aimed to restrict how the Environmental Protection Agency can use science, in an effort to benefit the fossil fuel industries. Daines, who previously advocated teaching creationism in public schools, at repeatedly and wrongly claimed that lawsuits by environmental anti-logging extremists are to blame for the increase in wildfires, not climate change.

Cassidy, a doctor, has made no effort to publicly reject Trump’s dangerous medical advice that people could treat the coronavirus by ingesting disinfectants. Trump’s comments led to increased calls to poison control centers and accidental poisonings.

“The president speaks in such a way, people are not going to inject themselves,” Cassidy said in an interview from April 2020 on CNN’s “Inside Politics”, repeatedly refusing to call out Trump’s claims. “When I hear that kind of conversation about it, I think to myself, we should be talking about how to use the data to guide where we can reopen the economy, not what the president said about Lysol because really no one is going. injecting Lysol. “

Perhaps the most glaring problem with GOP senators claiming to be the science party is their years of silence under Trump. The former president has routinely dismantled science-based health and safety protections, dismissed scientific evidence, and reversed advances in scientific integrity. The attacks were so prolific that the Union of Concerned Scientists has a searchable database in all the ways his administration has attempted to weaken science and public understanding.

It’s not really science that worries these Republican senators about Haaland’s appointment. It is Biden’s interest in protecting public lands and investing in renewable energy sources versus their interest in allowing fossil fuel industries to expand drilling on public lands. These senators receive huge sums of money in the oil and gas industry – each took well over a million dollars – and it’s clear from their questions to Haaland that they care about it.

“I just hope Democrats pay attention to the science,” Cassidy told Haaland during her hearing. “Will this administration and your department be guided by a fossil fuel bias or will it be guided by science?”

“Senator, if I could just say so, ‘the prejudice against fossil fuels’ might not be how I would describe it,” Haaland replied. “I would say President Biden is feeling and heading for the tremendous opportunities we have in diversifying our energy resources.”


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