By Stewart Truelsen
He was named “the most dangerous man on the planet” by environmental activists in 2003 when his face appeared on a “wanted” poster at a global warming conference he was attending in Milan, Italy. Fifteen years later, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) received the 2018 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. Two very different recognitions for the same man!
Inhofe gained notoriety during a congressional hearing by asking, “Could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?” He also was a leading opponent of cap-and trade legislation to curb carbon emissions. Farm Bureau honored him for being a leader in the Senate to remove burdensome federal regulations and for his support of agriculture in other ways.
The Republican senator hardly resembles a master villain like Dr. No or Goldfinger from the James Bond films. He’s been married to his wife Kay for 58 years, and they have 20 children and grandchildren. He was a builder and developer who got into politics to shrink the size of government and help save the free enterprise system.
But he admits to playing the role of the “bad guy” on global warming. He was put off by what he described as the hysteria in Hollywood and the media about it. “The world is coming to an end, and it is coming to an end because of man-made gases,” is what he was hearing.
“We’ve actually won that fight with the American people. They know better,” says Inhofe referring to public opinion polls indicating less concern. Global warming has since been repackaged as “climate change,” which he agrees is happening.
“Climate is changing, and it always will be changing,” he says. “That is not the same thing as the world is coming to an end because of anthropogenic gases or man-made gases.”
AFBF was glad to have Inhofe on its side in opposing the 2015 Waters of the United States rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Trump administration took executive action to have the rule rescinded. It would have greatly expanded the interpretation of navigable waters so that almost any water running across a farm field would be subject to federal jurisdiction.
“Senator Inhofe was one the first people to recognize the impact of this crazy over-reach on the definition of navigable waters. He stood up early when few other people were standing up,” says Rodd Moesel, president of Oklahoma Farm Bureau. “He’s a guy you want on your side. There is no better bulldog. There is no better warrior fighting for your issues.”
Inhofe compiled a list of 66 regulations that were reversed by executive order or congressional review act in the first year of the Trump administration. It is on his official website and he is keen to show it to visitors.
His concern about government over-regulation has long been shared by Farm Bureau. If Inhofe is a dangerous man it’s because he is a danger in the Senate to those who favor a larger, more intrusive and meddlesome federal government.
Stewart Truelsen is a food and agriculture freelance writer and a regular contributor to the Focus on Agriculture series.