Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said Thursday she couldn’t link Iowa’s heavy, continued flooding this year with climate change.
During a town hall in Carroll County, Ernst was asked by a voter to make the connection between the heavy spring rains and the record flooding and “carbon in the atmosphere and global environment change.” Both sides of Iowa have seen significant flooding on the Missouri and Mississippi River.
Ernst said she couldn’t see a relationship, but noted shifting weather and highlighted the state’s record of incentivizing renewable resources.
“I can’t make those connections, maybe other folks can,” Ernst said. “We do know that we have changing weather patterns, we do have to acknowledge that.”
Recent reports by the Iowa Policy Project following March’s round of devastation found the state’s flooding will worsen in the coming years as the world grows warmer.
Iowa is a leader in using cleaner resources to move forward, Ernst said, and other states should follow — in using renewable fuels, wind energy and solar panels.
“Our wind energy across the state of Iowa is something that has been incentivized by Republican Governor Terry Branstad, as well as the father, the grandfather of wind energy, Chuck Grassley,” Ernst said. “Other states don’t come nearly as close.”
Ernst has before applauded the state’s usage of renewable energy.
In a March tweet responding to the possibility of a “Green New Deal,” Ernst said:
“Don’t get me wrong. Increasing our reliance on renewables is a laudable goal and one that I support, but we have to be realistic about our current energy capabilities and needs.
“I’m proud to say that my home state of #Iowa is one of the nation’s leaders in renewable energy, with wind providing nearly 40% of our electricity, more than any other state.”
Moving toward incentivizing renewable energy is something the state demands, Ernst said, without federal mandates.
“We’ve seen a natural evolution here in the state of Iowa,” she said. “It didn’t take federal government intervention to make this happen, it is something we have done on our own. So I’ll continue to support those programs, I think it is really important.”
Also during the town hall, Ernst said she’s supportive of conservation efforts.
But Ernst earned a 1% rating on the League of Conservation Voters’s National Environmental Scorecard —they cite her background of supporting President Trump’s policies that have boosted the fossil fuel industry.
The LCV action fund earlier this week endorsed Theresa Greenfield, one of four Democratic candidates battling for the chance to run against Ernst in 2020.
LCV noted that “After six years of climate denier Joni Ernst representing Iowans in the Senate, we’re really excited to be supporting a candidate who is focused on investing in Iowa’s clean energy economy and will take action to tackle the climate crisis that is fueling extreme weather and record flooding in the state.”
Ernst was again asked if she thought humans were causing climate change by members of the press after the town hall.
Ernst was also asked about climate change twice during the town hall and whether humans are causing it. "I think there is probably a contribution there. But again if we wipe all industry off the face of the Earth our climate is still going to change," Ernst told reporters after. pic.twitter.com/YYzykYCkjU
— Adam Brewster (@adam_brew) October 3, 2019
“I think there is probably a contribution there, but again, if we wipe industry off the face of the earth, the climate is still going to change,” she said. “Climate has been changing since the dawn the time, but can we be better stewards of the environment? Of course, we can.”
She also reiterated her disinterest in large federal policies, including the Green New Deal.
“I don’t believe in heavy-handed federal mandates, especially if you look at something like the Green New Deal that is exorbitant in costs and would kill our economy. We can’t kill our economy either,” she said.
by Isabella Murray