When Dan Herrera asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) about the environment at a town hall meeting in Iowa last week, it almost seemed like a set-up.
After all, environmental groups have been known to plant their advocates among the crowds of Republican candidates’ events across the country, attempting to pressure them on issues like clean air and climate change. And Herrera’s question was framed the way any good environmentalist would ask it — first, an appeal to Rubio’s Catholic faith, and then, a direct question about specific policy.
“Pope Francis in the past couple days said a lot about the environment,” the 20-year-old Herrera said, smiling into the brightly lit stage where Rubio stood. “What environmental policies, if any, will you implement if you’re president?”
As it turned out, Herrera was not a member of 350.org or NextGen Climate Action, but a member of the Augustana College Republicans. Located at Augustana College just across the Missisippi River, the group was is dedicated “to promoting the ideals and candidates of their party.”
The Republican party — at least in Washington, D.C. — has been roundly accused of being anti-environment. More than 56 percent of current Congressional Republicans deny climate change, and the chairman of the House Environment committee is a coal-loving climate science denier. Week after week, congressional Republicans hold hearings to decry the EPA’s proposed regulations on smog, coal ash, and drinking water, while calling other hearings to promote fracking, offshore drilling, and crude oil exports.More ...