Oklahoma Senator and Climate-Change Denier, James Inhofe, Dies at 89

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TL/DR –

James M. Inhofe, who served for almost 30 years in the U.S. Senate as an Oklahoma Republican, has passed away. During his time in politics, Inhofe was known for his denial of climate change, his support for conservative causes, and his advocacy for military spending. He retired from the Senate in January 2023, and prior to his time in the Senate, he spent nearly eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives.


James M. Inhofe, Notable Climate Change Denier and Republican Senator, Dies at 89

James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, known as the Capitol’s most outspoken denier of climate change during his nearly 30 years in U.S. Senate, passed away on July 9 at 89. He served as chair of the Armed Services and Environment committees. He had suffered a stroke shortly before his death, according to the Associated Press.

Inhofe, who started his political career as a state legislator, also served as the mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second-largest city. After nearly eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives, he won a U.S. Senate seat in 1994. He was known as a reliable supporter of conservative causes and an effective advocate for regulatory policies that favored his oil-rich state.

On the Armed Services Committee, Inhofe argued strongly for increased military spending. However, he became most known for his aggressive opposition to the scientific consensus surrounding human-caused climate change. In a 2003 speech on the Senate floor, Inhofe controversially labeled man-made global warming as the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.

During his term as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee in winter 2015, Inhofe famously brought a snowball onto the Senate floor in an attempt to disprove global warming. He also made headlines for building an igloo during a snowstorm with a sign reading “Al Gore’s New Home”, mocking the former vice president’s efforts to combat climate change.

Inhofe’s influence grew under the presidency of Donald Trump, who made key appointments in line with Inhofe’s commitment to environmental deregulation. In 2021, Inhofe broke with Trump by voting to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, stating that any other action would have been a violation of his oath of office.

Inhofe started his career in insurance before venturing into real estate development and politics. His political career included serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate, as well as mayor of Tulsa, before being elected to the U.S. House in 1986. He eventually became the longest-serving member of the Senate chamber in his state.

Inhofe is survived by his wife, the former Kay Kirkpatrick, whom he married in 1959, and three of his children, Molly, Jimmy, and Katy. His son Perry, also an aviator, died in a 2013 plane crash. Despite his strong conservative views and combative rhetoric, Inhofe was said to have strong working relationships with many Democrats in Congress.

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