Letter: ‘Just say no’ not answer in climate change debate

From: Michael Mullett


Columbus native and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence should direct the affected Indiana agencies to prepare a State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the national Clean Power Plan (CPP) announced by President Barack Obama on Aug. 4.

Just saying “no” in response to the president’s call for action by the states on climate change is simply not an option consistent with the sworn duties of the governor under the Indiana Constitution or his sacred as well as sworn duty as the state’s highest elected official to protect the safety and security of the people of Indiana.

“The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it,” President Obama stated in his 2015 State of the Union address. “We need to act — and we need to act now,” our commander-in-chief warned at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement in May in New London, Connecticut. “Denying it, or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security.”

The Department of Defense and the joint chiefs of staff have publicly stated that climate change could necessitate military responses to humanitarian crises in foreign countries, such as mass migrations or political instability, including armed conflicts, as a result of food and water shortages. They have also advised that, here in this country, rising sea levels and flooding puts coastal military installations at risk while extreme weather threatens to disrupt military training.

Similarly, the nonpartisan American Security Project, a Washington-based think tank whose board includes retired generals and admirals, has called climate change “a clear and present danger to the United States through its effects on our global allies as well as its direct effects on our agriculture, infrastructure, economy and public health.”

As the elected and appointed leaders of our state, Pence and his agency heads have both the power and the duty to devise a Clean Power Plan which complies with federal law but which they consider to be better for the country and the state than the one which would otherwise be devised for Indiana by federal officials acting in their stead. Indeed, the governor followed just such a course of action with his much-touted Healthy Indiana Plan, as he also did while opposing the so-called Common Core educational guidelines.

President Ronald Reagan famously stated his policy on another grave matter of national security, a treaty with the former Soviet Union on nuclear weapons: “Trust, but verify.” “Just say no” is not an answer to developing a plan to control climate change in 2015 any more than it was to negotiate a treaty to control nuclear weapons in 1985.

Pence should now follow the historic Reagan example on an equally vital matter of national security, a Clean Power Plan to control the causes of climate change here in Indiana, with an analogous policy of his own: “Plan, but modify.”