Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown: Opposition on climate change ‘borders on the immoral’

Gov. Jerry Brown tore into Republicans in an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Gov. Jerry Brown tore into Republicans in an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown said opposition to steps President Barack Obama is taking on climate change “borders on the immoral,” as he tore into Republicans in an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Brown’s remarks came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged states last week to ignore federal directives to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. Brown, a longtime champion of environmental causes, said McConnell was “representing his coal constituents” and putting at risk “the health and well-being of America.” The Democratic governor called McConnell’s efforts “a disgrace.”

“President Obama is taking some important steps,” Brown said. “And to fight that, it borders on the immoral.”

Brown called U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a climate change skeptic from Texas who is expected to announce a presidential campaign today, “unfit to be running for office.”

“That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of existing scientific data, it’s shocking,” Brown said. “And I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office.”

Brown was on “Meet the Press” to discuss California’s crippling drought. He stopped short of attributing the state’s current weather conditions to climate change but said it is the kind of event that climate change is making “absolutely inevitable in the coming years and decades.”

“You can’t just sit around and engage in rhetoric because some of your donors and your constituents are saying, ‘Well, we want to make a profit,’” Brown said. “The coal companies are not as important as the people of America and the people of the world, and I think this has to be almost at the level of a crusade to wake people up and take the steps intelligently, carefully, but nevertheless forcefully from this point going forward.”

Brown has repeatedly said he will not run for president in 2016, but moderator Chuck Todd asked him if he would be running if he were 10 years younger.

Brown, who turns 77 next month, said, “Yes, I would.”

Todd said, “You would be running for president?”

“Well, I can’t say,” Brown said. “I’ve run three times, so if I could go back in the time machine and be 66, you know, I might jump in. But that’s a counterfactual, so we don’t need to speculate on that.”

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

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