John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, announced his bid for the presidency Tuesday. Unlike most of his GOP opponents, Kasich actually believes that climate change is real. “I happen to believe there is a problem with climate change,” he told the Hill 2012. “I don’t want to overreact to it, I can’t measure it all, but I respect the creation that the Lord has given us and I want to make sure we protect it.” He made a similar statement at a conference last month, but he added that the environment shouldn’t be “worshipped,” because that would be “pantheism.”
Despite his comparatively reasonable views on climate science, Kasich has been pretty noncommittal about actually addressing global warming. And over the last few months, he has stepped up his opposition to President Barack Obama’s climate agenda. He’s rolled back Ohio’s clean energy goals and has joined a legal challenge against the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Gov. Kasich seems less extreme than some other presidential candidates because he couches his views on climate change with uncertainty, rather than disagreement,” said Dan Weiss, a senior vice president at the League of Conservation Voters. Still, Weiss said, Kasich’s record tells a different story.
It’s no surprise that climate change would be on Kasich’s radar. His state is a leading producer and user of coal, which is the country’s top source of carbon dioxide pollution. Kasich has said he is “not going to apologize” for burning coal. He’s also been a proponent of so-called “clean coal” technology, which aims to capture carbon emissions and store or repurpose them. (So far there’s only one commercial-scale CCS project in the country, at an astronomically expensive coal plant in Mississippi.)
Kasich recently claimed that his stated “reduced emissions by 30 percent over the last 10 years.” According to federal data, total carbon emissions in Ohio fell only about half that amount between 2002 and 2012. (Rob Nichols, Gov. Kasich’s spokesperson, did not return multiple requests for comment about his statement and the governor’s overall climate record.)