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The Most Noxious GOP Lawmaker Just Announced He’s Retiring

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the most noxious climate change denier in Congress, announced that he will be retiring when the congressional term ends in 2018. Good riddance. May we never see his like again.

Smith, who was the first member of Congress to contribute to Donald Trump, has been the preeminent climate change denier in Congress. That’s a problem because he also has been serving as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the last place where someone devoted to undermining scientific research belongs. From that perch, he’s harassed government officials, Earth scientists and other academics whose work refutes his position that the human role in climate change is a myth.

As chairman of the science committee, Smith waged a war on scientists, research administrators and even state officials whose offense was to establish the human role in climate change. He has used his congressional authority to try to shield big oil companies such as Exxon Mobil from accusations that they connived in undermining public understanding of the climate crisis.

Smith’s legacy will be long-lasting and entirely discreditable. Our generation and those that follow will be paying the price of obstructionism like his, into the limitless future.

He dismissed the 2014 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which stated that “human interference with the climate system is occurring” and causes negative “impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans” as “nothing new” and “more political than scientific.”

In 2015, Smith spent months throwing a conniption fit over a report published by several government climate experts in the June 26 issue of the widely respected journal Science. He demanded emails and other correspondence from the scientists involved in the study, purportedly to ferret out evidence that they manipulated their data. In a Thanksgiving Day op-ed in the conservative Washington Times, he called the work of dedicated government researchers “not good science, but science fiction.”

Earlier this year, Smith could be found carrying water for Exxon Mobil by trying to bully state attorneys general investigating allegations that the company fraudulently undermined public understanding of climate change while possessing scientific evidence that the problem is real.

Playing the role of Exxon Mobil’s marionette, Smith issued subpoenas to Eric Schneiderman and Maura Healey, the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, for documents of their contacts with climate activists, scientists and legal experts.

What really motivates Smith? If one adheres to the precept to “follow the money,” one discovers that pants full of it flow from the oil and gas industry into Smith’s campaign accounts. Oil and gas contributors have directed nearly $760,000 in Smith’s direction over his three-decade career in Congress.

Thankfully, he’ll be gone soon.


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