The Morano Gauntlet

By Keith Kloor | June 2, 2011 7:02 am

Michael Levi at his Council on Foreign Relations blog has an interesting take on a recent decision by New Jersey’s Governor:

People who care about climate change are understandably upset with Chris Christie’s announcement that he’s pulling New Jersey out of the Regional Greeenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first-of-a-kind cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide emissions in the northeast. Indeed Governor Christie’s justification for withdrawing is pretty much nonsense: he claims that RGGI was an unacceptable tax on electricity ““ yet the cost of RGGI permits was far too low to have any meaningful impact on ratepayers.

So why one cheer? Because in the course of rejecting RGGI, Christie embraced the reality of the climate problem. Last fall, he said he was skeptical that human-caused climate change was a real problem. In his withdrawal announcement, though, he made it pretty clear that he thought climate change was a serious matter. This is no small thing for a rising star in a party that has increasingly made climate denial a litmus test for its leadership.

Levi’s point in that last sentence is reinforced by Marc Morano’s reaction, who is now trying to dim that star or force it closer to the Inhofe/Morano orbit.

What’s interesting is Levi’s glass half full perspective on Christie’s announcement (my emphasis):

Indeed I’d argue that given a choice between having Christie participate in RGGI but deny climate change, or reject RGGI but accept climate change, people who care about climate change should prefer the latter. RGGI is a weak cap-and-trade program that currently has minimal direct impact on emissions. Someone who denies climate change is not going to strengthen the program, or support stronger alternatives at the federal level. In contrast, someone who accepts that climate change is real has at least left the door open to supporting serious policies that might combat it down the road.

And that is why Morano will be giving Christie the Gingrich treatment for the foreseeable future. The message should be clear by now: any Republican contenders for President will be forced to run the Morano gauntlet if they don’t march in lockstep with the newly hardened GOP orthodoxy on global warming. Or they could take Morano’s advice, which he delivered in this recent AP article:

Republican presidential hopefuls can believe in man-made global warming as long as they never talk about it, and oppose all the so-called solutions.

Spoken like a true climate capo.

UPDATE: Morano takes offense. Readers coming here from Climate Depot should check out my response.

  • Sashka

    I bet that when it comes to general elections the Republican candidate will talk about man-made climate change. But will probably oppose so-called solutions.

  • Keith Kloor

    I think you are right–to an extent. With the U.S. Electoral College system, messages by the Presidential candidates in the general election get tailored to specific states/demographics.


  • Sashka

    Also, AFAIK Chris Christie is not running. But he strikes me as a man who marches to his own drum. If he changes his mind the Rep’s will have to shut up and bend over to accommodate his views, not the other way around. Because they are so desperate find a credible challenge to Obama.

  • TimG

    There are two points which I think Levi/Keith is missing:

    1) Christie did not just express support for the science: he basically parrotted alarmist talking points and showed no understanding of nature of the issue.

    2) Christie’s unthinking adoption of alarmists talking points suggests he could be bambozzled in the future to support anti-CO2 measures. If he was really ‘his own man’ on this point he would have used more nuace than he did.

    Personally, I think it would be possible to come up with a pro-science position that would pass the Morano test. The trouble is politicians don’t seem to be that good at handling nuace and tend to oscillated between extremes.

  • Brian G Valentine

    Let’s face it.  The next GOP candidate has to do SOMETHING that will distinguish him or herself from the current administration’s goal of creating a “green” economy via the questionable demolition of the existing one.
    The only way for a GOP candidate to accomplish that it to convey the unhappy truth that the objective is impossible, if not downright imbecilic, based on nonsensical (un)scientific premises.

    The quicker the USA moves away from this AGW stupidity through some sane leadership the better off we’ll all be.  Thanks to Morano for recognizing this.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


See More

Collapse bottom bar