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Nikki Haley’s Climate Change Hypocrisy

Republican presidential candidate and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has acknowledged that climate change is an issue, far more than former president Trump, who has been consistent with his claims of climate change as a “hoax.” However, while Haley’s words may seem like a step toward taking action, her alleged stance on the matter is simply not reflected in her actions.

Her actions, such as boasting about the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and neglecting to advocate for fossil fuel reduction, contradict the stance she claims to hold on climate change, undermining the legitimacy of her words.

In her memoir, Haley recounts her role in withdrawing the US from the 2017 Paris Agreement and further boasted about it at a recent town hall meeting in New Hampshire. Furthermore, in November Haley received an endorsement from Americans for Prosperity Action, “an influential conservative advocacy group with close ties to the fossil fuel industry.” – Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News

Furthermore, Haley has voiced support for increased oil production and the Keystone XL Pipeline – a destructive project that threatens Nebraska’s Sand Hills, the largest intact natural habitat left in the Great Plains ecosystem. She also has supported contaminating the Ogallala Aquifer, the main source of drinking water for millions of Americans. The pipeline has come under fire for its damage to indigenous sites and the health risks that could transpire in those communities due to water pollution. The pipeline has had a reported 22 oil spills, with the largest spill occurring in 2022, when a leak in the pipeline released 14,000 barrels of oil into a creek in Washington County, Kansas. The pipeline has caused more than $111 million in property damage. 

These hypocrisies are not going unnoticed. At a recent rally in New Hampshire for Haley’s campaign, climate protestors from Sunrise Movement brandished yellow signs calling her a “climate criminal.” When asked if she worked “for young people or oil millionaires,” Haley’s response was, “I work for Americans.” I ask, what about the Americans whose health and communities have been devastated by pollutant pipelines that you actively support? 

By acknowledging that climate change is an issue (which many would feel is the bare minimum required in the struggle for climate justice), yet failing to practice what she preaches, Haley’s stance on climate change could be considered confusing or hypocritical. She could be considered to be “dipping her toes into the climate change conversation” by making a bare minimum statement but doing nothing substantial to prioritize her alleged beliefs.

On Haley’s time as South Carolina’s Governor, John Tynan, president of the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, said: “It’s not that she fought and was aggressively anti-environmental, she just really ignored it. It just was not a priority for her.”