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E&E News: Inhofe video taunts U.N. delegates, slams Obama
June 20, 2012

Posted by Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov

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RIO+20:

Inhofe video taunts U.N. delegates, slams Obama

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Many at the Rio+20 sustainable development conference here have openly been wondering why President Obama decided to skip the event. An answer came today from an unlikely source, climate change skeptic Sen. James Inhofe.

The Oklahoma Republican's video appearance at the U.N. summit was a kind of long-distance taunt and an attack on Obama. Inhofe took issue with the United Nations' "radical global warming agenda" in the clip and dismissed Obama's absence as election-year politics.

To Inhofe, it's obvious why Obama chose not to appear: The president is painting himself as pro-energy production to win swing states in this fall's election, so he wants to steer clear of any impression that he's in line with any policies that would address climate change head on.

"President Obama is running for re-election and is too busy trying to tell American voters that he is the new fossil-fuels president and that he actually supports the development of oil, gas and coal," Inhofe said. "I don't think that message would sell too well with his friends in the U.N."

Inhofe also warned that Obama, if he wins, would "get back to making his far-left global warming agenda a top priority."

"Remember, we have already documented that his administration has spent nearly $70 billion of taxpayer money on global warming efforts," he said.

Inhofe then said he would have flown to Rio himself had he not "realized that no one in Washington even knows that the conference is taking place."

The video was shown during a side event here during which former Inhofe aide Marc Morano appeared as a representative of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a conservative think tank that campaigns against addressing global warming.

The stunt echoed a similar video message from Inhofe delivered at U.N. climate talks last December in Durban, South Africa, in which the senator called the agreement there the last nail in the coffin of the Kyoto Protocol (Greenwire, Dec. 7, 2011).

A senior aide to Obama, U.S. special envoy on climate change Todd Stern, was asked several times this week during news briefings why Obama isn't here. Stern replied that a contingent led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reflects how seriously the United States takes sustainable development, "at a level which is quite comparable to a great many other countries."

"There are always challenging politics in the U.S.," Stern said in a subsequent news briefing.

Stern went on to defend the U.N. tendency toward large summits, saying they have a necessary place in international negotiations (ClimateWire, June 20).

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