Energy. Environment. Economy.

Corbett: climate change is ‘a subject of debate’

Tom Corbett

Scott Detrow/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Two new scientific studies published this week warn that a large portion of the West Antarctica ice sheet has begun melting at a pace that appears to be unstoppable.

It’s the latest round of bad news about climate change.

Meanwhile a United Nations panel on climate change has been issuing a series of alarming reports over the past six months– urging governments around the world to act more quickly to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert serious risks, including sea level rise, species extinction, and food insecurity.

When Pennsylvania voters go to the polls in November they will have a stark choice. All the Democratic candidates believe man-made climate change is real and poses significant risks, while Governor Corbett believes the issue is still a subject of debate within the scientific community.

“I think some people believe that it is clearly evident and it’s coming very, very quickly,” he said in a recent interview with StateImpact Pennsylvania. “I think there are others who are equally qualified that disagree with that. It’s a subject of debate.”

When asked whether he is aware that 97 percent of peer-reviewed studies reflect the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, Corbett said he is aware.

“I understand that,” he said. “But I also understand that we are only a portion of the issue here in the United States, compared to the entire world. And we have to get the entire world on with us.”

Corbett pointed to the expanded use of natural gas as a way that both Pennsylvania and the United States have successfully cut carbon emissions.

Scientists are still trying to understand how methane emissions from oil and gas development contribute to climate change. Methane is the main component of natural gas, and it is 21 times more potent as heat-trapping gas, compared to carbon dioxide.

Several Corbett appointees– including his Deputy Secretary on Energy, as well as the current and former heads of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have publicly questioned the scientific consensus around climate change.

Current DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo had a rocky confirmation hearing in December when he said he was unaware climate change caused environmental harm. A month later, he walked back his comments, saying there are impacts caused by man-made warming.

In separate interviews with StateImpact Pennsylvania, all of Corbett’s Democratic challengers acknowledged the threat of climate change. Most favor expanding the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to purchase a set amount of power from alternative sources like solar, wind and biofuels.



  • Leslie Graham

    Why does Corbett and other purveyors of absurdist junk still get column inches?

    Now that climate change is simply an obvious everyday reality all over the world these paid-to-lie shills and their dwindling little army of ignorant hapless dupes just sound insane.

    There is NO ‘debate’ about the basic tenets of climate change and there hasn’t been for decades now. The physical principles that drive it have been known for centuries.

    We don’t have time for this nonsense any longer.

    • Justin Wilson

      It’s difficult when the primary tenet of your political philosophy makes it almost impossible to enact rules to modify or prohibit profitable behavior.

  • Peter Craven

    Being on the wrong side of history AND science is not a nice place to be as Corbett and all the other climate change deniers will and are discovering to their considerable cost. Unfortunately there is also a cost to all the rest of us in their stubborn ignorance.

    • CB


      Committing suicide is one thing.

      Committing suicide on everyone’s behalf is quite another.

  • NorthernTier

    Someone should tell the Corbett team about the two new studies of the West Antarctic glaciers; melting has reached the “unstoppable” point.
    While it is true that China is the #1 CO2 equivalent emitter at 23% of the world’s total, the U.S. is #2 at 19%. And, regardless how much of climante change is due to human activity, human activity can mitigate it.

  • Brian Oram

    role man has in climate change/ how much we can or can not influence is and should be up for debate – are the national policies on track? I would say NO

    • Justin Wilson

      Agreed. I think there is a fundamental flaw with the understanding between what is settled science and what pieces are being refined through study and analysis.

    • mememine

      It’s up to science not a mob of determined “believers” to end the debate and another 32 unsustainable years of their laughable “95%” certainty dooms climate blame to be judged as the ultimate in fear mongering.

  • Larry

    There are still some people who believe the earth is the center of the universe. Maybe he will get their votes.

    • mememine

      Did you know that the “scientific” consensus you “believe” in is 32 years of nothing beyond a laughable “95%” certainty that THE END could be NEAR?

  • Julieann Wozniak

    Says the man pwned by the coal and gas industries. Will he also quote the fundamentalist perspective on the age of the earth?

    • mememine

      Did Bush goose step billions of innocent children to the exaggerated greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated climate crisis?
      Science has NEVER been certain so YOU can’t “believe” and stop wanting this misery to have been real please. Who’s the neocon again here?

      • Julieann Wozniak

        Enough with the Nazi references. My uncle, John Rohulich Jr., died at St. Lo in WWII, fighting them. He’s buried at Arlington, and his name is embossed in bronze on our town’s Honor Roll.

        Aside from the offensive part, your reply makes no logical sense. Billions of innocent children? Which conspiracy theory are you referencing, so I can follow along.

  • donewithblame

    In the effort to move quickly to meaningful climate debate — about what we can do, and how we’re going to respond — we’re increasingly offering people who are unsure that climate change should be a priority issue the position of the US Military and the re-insurance industry. They are entities that are not fad driven, and that have a vested interest in sorting through scientific measurement and prediction and getting it right. Frankly, it’s too much to ask the average layperson to do so well, but both of these groups are really clear about the importance of climate change, now, and moving into the future. If people are feeling distrustful of the “two sides” in the “debate” (see John Oliver’s treatment of this for a little truthful humor), it’s a quick way to move forward. Here’s a new resource on that front:

    “The Military Advisory Board’s 2007 report described projected climate change as a ‘threat multiplier.’ In this report the 16 retired Generals and Admirals who make up the board look at new vulnerabilities and tensions posed by climate change, which, when set against the backdrop of increasingly decentralized power structures around the world, they now
    identify as a ‘catalyst for conflict.’”

  • Scott Cannon

    Stupid people vote for stupid leaders.

  • KeepTapWaterSafe

    can we kick this guy out already? do we have to wait until November?

  • mememine

    What news editors never mention;

    What you remaining climate blame “believers” don’t know is that when you tell our children to “believe” the scientists, you are ordering them to “believe” their 32 years of “95%” certainty that THE END IS NEAR for billions of innocent children and all life on earth. Now YOU know as well.
    Science is 100% certain the earth is not flat but 95% certain CO2 could flatten it? History can only call 32 years of needless CO2 panic a total war crime.
    Call it ignorance or exaggeration or fear mongering but either way it’s a bold faced lie to tell children that science “believes” as much as YOU do.
    This urge to “believe” is sickening.
    And get up to date;
    *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
    *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).

  • mememine

    It’s up to science not a mob of determined “believers” to end the debate and another 32 unsustainable years of their laughable “95%” certainty dooms climate blame to be judged as the ultimate in fear mongering.

    Exaggerating climate blame has done to us what Bush and HIS false wars did for the neocons.

  • Josh

    The real headline should be “WITF Believes Politicized, Alleged ‘Climate Change’ is a Real Issue”… But then WITF would be dropping the station’s hard-left agenda.

  • rickw

    GOP= gut our planet

  • NorthernTier

    1) Who has claimed that “The end is NEAR”?
    2) What is the harm in reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions?

    • mememine

      Nobody but “believers” are crying THE END IS NEAR when they say CO2 is causing a crisis and if reducing a harmless gas is what YOU call intelligent, so be it.
      Either way history can only judge the sheer determination to “believe” in this misery as the real crime of modern times.

      • NorthernTier

        Then it’s your belief that when the Marcellus Shale Coalition published (10/23/2013):
        “This responsible [shale gas] development is resulting in enormous job growth and cleaner air, with CO2 emissions now at their “lowest level since 1994”, according to the federal government. … Our industry is demonstrating that we can, and must, have a healthy environment and a strong economy.”,
        it was a meaningless promotion for the shale gas industry’s product; carbon dioxide is a “harmless gas”. Or do you want to have it both ways, blame the scientists and the (alleged) “believers”, but let the big fish off the hook?

  • mememine

    Yes we must keep fear mongering our own children and billions of others with OUR climate blame exaggeration so we can finally defeat the evil fear mongering neocons and non-”believers”.

  • kenneth weir

    Tom Corbett is a political prostitute who is owned by the gas industry. He will do and say exactly as his handlers tell him. He took the adult basic healthcare away from 44 thousand working Pennsylvanians and gave it to a keystone business zone to promote corporate interests, Then in his grand style he has refused to expand Medicaid for those who don’t qualify for Obama care because they don’t make enough money. Go to Harrisburgh and you will see the entitlement program that the politicians have created for themselves. Throw the bum out and off of the entitlement program that he belongs to,

  • Vera Scroggins

    Corbett continues to allow greenhouse emissions via the oil and gas industry in Pa. and will not stop the devastating impacts of Climate Change or acknowledge them like he won’t acknowledge the “Harmed” with water and air contamination in Pa…from gas and oil drilling. He needs to go and/or be impeached …… and charged with not protecting the citizens of Pa…

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