By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
A trio of citizens concerned about environmental issues clashed with supporters of U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt over his stance on climate change at his Cullman office Tuesday morning.
The group showed up at the Republican House of Representative’s office on Fourth Avenue Northeast to protest Aderholt’s opposition to the theory of global climate change. They were participating in the national “Day of Action” campaign where representatives with the national Organizing for Action confront officials whom they believe oppose environmental interests and deny global climate change is a problem. Organizing for Action formerly operated as President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign organization. It advocates for gun violence prevention, sensible environmental policies to address climate change and immigration reform.
Aderholt was not present at the demonstration at his Cullman office or a separate one at his office in Gadsden Tuesday. He issued a press release that stated “the only climate we should be talking about today is this country’s stalled economics and jobs climate.”
Jim Spearman, executive director of Conservation Alabama, an environmental lobbying group, attended the Cullman demonstration and brought an award with a unicorn mounted on a podium that read “Climate Change Denier” to present Aderholt.
When asked about his position on climate change, his media representative Anne Marie Malecha said “as far as I am aware, Congressman Aderholt has never made any statements regarding climate change. He believes right now we should be focused on getting our economy back on track and creating jobs here at home.”
In a December 2009 op-ed he wrote for The Gadsden Times, Aderholt stated: “Proponents believe that we must slow and eventually reverse the growth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions before the earth's climate becomes too hot, while opponents believe that the increase in global temperature is not man-made but rather part of a natural cycle that has occurred before and will later be followed by a cooling period. I fall into the second group of people who believe, as do many very credible scientists, that the earth is currently in a natural warming cycle rather than a man-made climate change.”
Spearman said the Obama administration has a “common sense” energy plan, and his group wants to start a dialogue with Aderholt and other conservative representatives so the two sides can try to find common ground to move forward.
“We’re calling on different members of Congress to open up, look at the facts and talk about ways we can make changes for the future,” Spearman said.
A dozen or so local Republican supporters showed up to defend Aderholt’s record on the environment. They held signs that voiced their support for the Keystone Pipeline, scaling back Environmental Protection Agency regulations and increased fracking for oil.
“We think he’s right on the issues,” said former Cullman County Republican Party Chairman Ken Brown. “He supports the Keystone pipeline and domestic energy production so we can have energy independence and create new jobs.”
For about a half hour, Aderholt’s supporters and the environmentalists had a lively debate outside the Cullman office.
“We’ve got to do the best we can for our children’s future,” said Jackie Posey of Lawrence County. “We need to be looking at other sources of energy, solar, geothermal, everything.”
Tiffeny Owens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 135.