Haley Barbour fields questions on climate change and curbing meth and obesity

02/17/2011 07:08 PM

LEXINGTON — Mississippi’s governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Haley Barbour told Kentucky coal operators Thursday that President Barack Obama’s administration is harming the energy industry.

And in an interview with cn|2 Politics, Barbour stopped short of saying that he believed in climate change, although he said he disagreed with Environmental Protection Agency measures aimed at curbing greenhouse gasses regardless of the existence of global warming.

“As far as global warming, I say let’s take the position, that suppose it’s true — let’s just accept that as a fact. I don’t think it’s a scientifically proven fact,” he said. “There’s a great deal of scientific debate about is any change in climate being caused by man-made activity or is it because of solar activity? Is it because of other non-man-made things?”

He said if climate change is caused by humans and industry, cracking down on greenhouse gas emissions in the United State won’t matter if China and India don’t make those same changes.

The Kentucky Coal Association invited Barbour to talk to several dozen coal mine operators and some Republican officials, including Bob Mitchell, state director to U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset. Barbour spoke to the group in a private session for about a half-hour at the Hyatt in Lexington. News cameras and reporters were not permitted to cover Barbour’s remarks.

“We need government to get out of the way because government is stopping energy production, not just in coal but in nuclear, in oil and in gas all over the United States,” he said later in the interview with cn|2 Politics.

Barbour also talked about the effectiveness of a law Mississippi’s legislature approved last year that requires prescriptions for cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine — a key ingredient in meth.

Mississippi and Oregon both saw dramatic declines in meth labs after such laws passed.

“We’ll see if it’s sustainable,” Barbour said. ‘This seems to be working a lot better.”

Kentucky’s legislature has considered similar legislation, but the bills have stalled in both chambers.

Barbour declined to say whether Kentucky should follow his state in requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine drugs.

On other health issues, Kentucky and Mississippi both rank near the bottom in key health categories. For instance, Mississippi had the highest obesity rate last year, while Kentucky ranked 7th highest. Kentucky has the second highest rate of heart disease of the nation followed by Mississippi.

Barbour explained some of the steps his state has tried to combat obesity and bolster health, particularly with children:

- Ryan Alessi


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