As California Goes Dry, Rep. Kevin McCarthy Puts His Head in the Sand

House Majority Leader ironically claims “We Warned This Day Would Come,” yet refuses to take action on climate


Phillip Ellis, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5221

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is trying to hide from his party’s record of failing to take action on climate change, which has exacerbated California’s drought. Apparently unaware of the immense irony, the second most powerful House Republican recently told The Hill, “The saddest thing [about the drought] is we warned this day would come, and now this day is here.” 

He’s right; Stanford scientists forewarned that human-caused climate change was “very likely” contributing to California’s drought. But Rep. McCarthy chose to ignore them and instead reward the polluters that have bankrolled his campaigns. Last Congress, House Republicans voted 236 times to block action on climate change. Now Rep. McCarthy is leading the charge to block a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector. He is also using the drought as an excuse to attack Endangered Species Act protections in California’s Bay-Delta ecosystem that safeguard native salmon plus thousands of farming and fishing jobs in the Bay-Delta and beyond.

Statement from Martin Hayden, Vice President of Policy and Legislation for Earthjustice: “Last fall, Stanford scientists concluded that it was ‘very likely’ that California’s longstanding drought was linked to human-caused climate change and now Rep. Kevin McCarthy is lecturing others about how ‘we warned this day would come. House Majority Leader, McCarthy has no one to blame but himself. On his watch, the House has done nothing to address climate change and is now actively trying to derail a plan that would slash carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent.” 


Last Congress, House Republicans Voted 236 Times To Block Action on Climate Change. According to a report by former ranking member Henry Waxman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, “During the 113th Congress, the House of Representatives voted 236 times to block action to address climate change, to halt efforts to reduce air and water pollution, to undermine protections for public lands and coastal areas, and to weaken the protection of the environment in other ways. The Democratic staff for the Committee on Energy and Commerce compiled a searchable database of these votes, found below.” [House Energy and Commerce Democrats, 2014]

Stanford Researchers Concluded That the California Drought is “‘Very Likely’ Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change.” According to the Stanford News, “The atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting California are ‘very likely’ linked to human-caused climate change, Stanford scientists write in a new research paper. In a new study, a team led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh used a novel combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that a persistent region of high atmospheric pressure hovering over the Pacific Ocean that diverted storms away from California was much more likely to form in the presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.” [Stanford News, 9/30/14]

McCarthy “Didn’t Connect His State’s Historic Drought to Climate Change.” According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Kevin McCarthy “didn’t connect his state’s historic drought to climate change and criticized President Barack Obama’s visit to California earlier this year to talk about the issue.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/13/14]

  • …But He Steadfastly Opposes The Clean Power Plan That Would Reduce Carbon Pollution in the Power Sector by 30 Percent. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. McCarthy vowed to try to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon rules from multiple angles.” The EPA explained that “Nationwide, the Clean Power Plan will help cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels. Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly one third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal will also cut pollution that leads to soot and smog by over 25 percent in 2030.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/13/14</a>; EPA Fact Sheet, 6/02/14]
Storm clouds pass over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Storm clouds pass over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Architect of the Capitol)

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