LaMalfa awarded booby prize
North State congressman recognized as climate-change denier
“I believe in human-caused climate change inside this room with the air conditioner, or inside a packing plant where they’re keeping your vegetables cool, or when you pray for rain,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) declared at a May 2012 candidates forum in Chico during his successful bid for U.S. Congress.
LaMalfa has made similar remarks in the past, claiming climate change is a wholly natural occurrence and criticizing what he’s referred to as “bad science behind what people call global warming,” despite an expansive body of evidence to the contrary.
Due to this stance, LaMalfa was one of 135 legislators nationwide to receive a Congressional Climate Change Denier—or Unicorn Award—on Tuesday (Aug. 13). In LaMalfa’s case, a ceremony took place outside his Oroville office.
The awards were given by the political group Organizing for Action. OFA is a nonprofit organization that—though it claims no official political affiliation—is dedicated to forwarding initiatives supported by President Barack Obama. Formerly known as Organizing for America, the group was initially formed to help elect Obama in 2008.
“In the face of overwhelming evidence, Congressman LaMalfa has proudly and defiantly denied the science of climate change,” said Peter Kirkup, a Sacramento-based OFA member and organizer for the group’s climate-change campaign, when asked why the group chose a unicorn. “His position gives the fossil-fuel industry the green light to continue to destroy our climate and our way of life.
“With the confidence that Congressman LaMalfa will believe almost anything, we present him with the Unicorn Award. It’s a fantasy we would all love to believe, but unfortunately, it is just not true.”
LaMalfa’s office wasn’t informed of the questionable honor ahead of time, but the word spread among the local climate-change activist community. About 30 people showed up outside LaMalfa’s Downer Street office at 10 a.m. to witness the spectacle. Some carried signs criticizing the congressman’s political posturing on climate change and other issues, such as his recent vote for a farm bill that didn’t include funding for the nation’s food-stamp program and the fact his family has accepted $5.1 million in farm subsidies since 1995 (see “No stamp of approval,” by Tom Gascoyne, Newslines, Aug. 1).
One of the signs read, “Don’t criticize the federal government with cash in your mouth,” a play on LaMalfa’s own words about criticizing farmers while having food in one’s mouth. Another featured the words “LaMalfa hasn’t denied himself much!” above a caricature of the congressman riding a cow labeled “farm subsidies.”
A pair of LaMalfa staffers came outside, asking the protesters not to block doorways to adjacent offices while Kirkup and others spoke.
One of the protesters who spoke to the small crowd, Joni Stellar of Concow, focused on the effects of climate change and other environmental impacts in forested areas, noting that District 1, which LaMalfa represents, is largely wilderness. She said a bill currently co-sponsored by LaMalfa, HR 1526 (the benignly titled “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act”), “pretends to be looking out for the best interest of rural communities,” but actually encourages unregulated logging.
Noting that LaMalfa’s campaign included money from the timber and fossil-fuel industries, Stellar said, “Call me cynical, but I believe Doug LaMalfa is not just a simple climate-change denier—he’s a climate-change profiteer, making money for himself and his corporate masters while the rest of us just burn and breathe smoke.”
The award—a certificate and a 6-inch unicorn statue engraved with the words “Congressional Climate Denier Award, for exceptional extremism and ignoring the overwhelming judgment of science”—was graciously accepted by LaMalfa staffer Lisa Buescher.
When asked by the crowd if LaMalfa would come out and accept the award personally, she said he was not present and had other appointments scheduled that day.
“We didn’t realize you all were coming,” she said.
The crowd dissipated shortly after, with Kirkup and his OFA cohorts departing immediately to present Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Granite Bay) with his Unicorn. Other California congressmen receiving the award include Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), Darrell Issa (R-Vista), Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and Jeff Denham (R-Turlock). The OFA has other actions scheduled this month in support of the Affordable Care Act and to prevent gun violence.