Earth Shakers: The Counter-Enviro Power List

James Inhofe: Senator (R-Okla.) Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works

May 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

A three-term senator and the former mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Inhofe has always been an impassioned defender of oil and gas interests, but as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works—which oversees environmental, wildlife, and federal highway legislation—his power to act on their behalf has grown considerably. Inhofe, 70, vigorously challenges the scientific consensus on climate change in his committee hearing room, where he frequently invites skeptics to testify, and during wider debate on the Senate floor.

Inhofe was instrumental in defeating last year's bipartisan McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship bill, which proposed minor curbs on greenhouse gases. He was also the lead sponsor of the Clear Skies bill, an attempt to amend the 1970 Clean Air Act. (The bill died in committee in March.) The legislation would have given power plants more time to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury—with higher allowable limits than in the existing act—and did not include limits for carbon dioxide.

Not surprisingly, Inhofe's leadership draws plenty of industry support. In 2002, he took in $427,000 in campaign contributions from the energy and extraction industries, more money than all but two other U.S. senators.

SOUND BITE: In 2003, Inhofe described global warming as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

NEXT UP: This year, Inhofe will try to resurrect his Clear Skies bill and will continue to monitor the Environmental Protection Agency's grant program, which he believes favors environmental groups and what he calls the "snake-oil salesmen" that they send out to mislead the public.

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