Even with the Environmental Protection Agency predicting that climate change will cause more flooding and more extremely hot days in Missouri in the future, the issue has been virtually absent from the state’s U.S. Senate race.
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, and her Republican challenger, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, have not addressed the issue, prompting The St. Louis Post-Dispatch to ask both candidates how they would address climate change if they win a six-year Senate seat in November.
Hawley’s campaign sent a short statement that never used the words climate change and attacked McCaskill.
“Yes, we need to be good stewards of the environment without killing jobs for working families in our state,” Hawley said, adding that McCaskill sides with “radical environmentalists every time.” He said McCaskill supported President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the U.S. regulation, though, in fact, McCaskill voted to scrap the clean water rule in 2015.
McCaskill also called for adjustments to the Clean Power Plan in 2014 to “protect consumers,” but also said last year that Trump’s criticism of the regulation was misguided.
“She represents the environmentalist left-wing and Chuck Schumer, and not the people of Missouri,” Hawley said.
McCaskill has earned a lifetime score of 74 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, although she has been criticized by environmental groups for some of her positions, such as supporting the Keystone XL pipeline and opposing cap-and trade-legislation, which provides economic incentives for reducing emissions of pollutants.
“Climate Change is real, the science is overwhelming, and it poses a massive threat to our future,” McCaskill said in a statement. “That is why I have fought for renewable fuels and clean energy alternatives.”
McCaskill said she opposed cap-and-trade because she could not “saddle Missourians on fixed incomes with sky high utility bills.” Missouri generates about 80 percent of its electricity from coal.
“At the same time, I oppose this administration’s efforts to take a massive step backward with abandoning fuel efficiency standards and doing everything possible to help the profits of big oil companies,” McCaskill said.
As attorney general, Hawley did not pull Missouri from a lawsuit challenging the federal Clean Power Plan. He also dissolved the agriculture and environment division in the attorney general’s office to “improve efficiency,” he said.
Although McCaskill has annoyed environmentalists on some issues, she is preferable to Hawley, said John Hickey, president of the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club, which has not officially endorsed the Democrat.
“We have done our homework, and we do see that the candidates differ very strongly on the environment,” Hickey said. “Josh Hawley is no friend to clean air and clean water.”
Kathleen Henry, president of the St. Louis-based Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, said McCaskill’s record leaves a lot to be desired.
“I wish both candidates would acknowledge the reality of climate change and the threat it poses to Missouri and all of humanity,” she said.