ARKANSAS, Oct 26 (Future Headlines)- Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, has taken office with a strong record of support for the oil industry and a reputation as one of the most vocal skeptics of the scientific consensus on climate change ever to hold the speakership. As the representative for a district that includes Shreveport, once a thriving oil industry hub, Johnson has consistently aligned himself with the pro-fossil fuel camp. He received a perfect 100 percent rating from the American Energy Alliance, a pro-fossil fuel lobbying group, in 2022, along with every other Republican in Louisiana’s House delegation.
In the 2023-24 campaign cycle, individuals and PACs associated with the oil and gas industry have contributed $23,800 to Johnson’s campaign, making it the largest amount he received from any group, second only to retired donors. This is a notable shift from the 2021-22 cycle when the sector donated $84,350.
Johnson’s stance on climate change is rooted in skepticism. In 2017, he denied human-caused climate change during a town hall, questioning whether it was primarily driven by human activities such as driving SUVs. At that time, he stated, “The climate is changing, but the question is, is it being caused by natural cycles over the span of the Earth’s history? Or is it changing because we drive SUVs? I don’t believe in the latter. I don’t think that’s the primary driver.”
Johnson’s position on climate and environmental issues has earned him a lifetime score of just 2 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). In response to his election as House Speaker, the LCV issued a statement criticizing him for leading attacks on elections, denying the link between climate change and fossil fuels, and appearing likely to continue to favor Big Oil and Gas.
Some members of Congress have expressed concern about Johnson’s stance on climate change. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California and the ranking member of the House Science Committee, called Johnson’s record on climate change “alarming” and highlighted the risks it poses to addressing pressing climate and energy challenges.
While Johnson’s skepticism about climate change is considered rarer among Republican leadership, the party’s stance has evolved over time. The “Commitment to America” plan released by GOP House leadership after the 2022 midterms includes references to encouraging domestic development of renewables alongside fossil fuels. It also outlines plans to plant one trillion trees to absorb carbon from the atmosphere, though climate experts have noted that this might not be sufficient to counteract carbon emissions.
The ongoing influence of former President Donald Trump, a climate change denier, within the Republican Party is another factor that influences how Republicans handle the issue. Johnson is a longtime Trump ally and was involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Trump’s favor. Despite the shift in the party’s stance on climate change, Trump’s influence continues to affect the party’s approach.
As Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson’s stance on climate change and his commitment to fossil fuels will play a significant role in shaping the Republican agenda in the coming years. His position on this critical issue could impact climate policy, energy initiatives, and the party’s overall approach to addressing climate challenges.
Writing by Sarah White