Hyde-Smith dodges climate change question, touts jobs at Copiah plant

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GALLMAN — At Tuesday’s groundbreaking for Alternative Energy Development-Copiah, the speakers, including U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, touted the new company’s impact on jobs and the state’s timber industry.
“You know it is such a testament to opportunity, to leadership to vision. We have to tell it all day long, every day we can never miss an opportunity to talk about our great state and how wonderful it is to bring a business here … We have a forest product inventory. We’ve got a lot of trees out there. You’ve got to capitalize on what God gave us,” Hyde-Smith told the crowd.
One topic each speaker avoided though was climate change — one of the very reasons alternative energy sources like the wood pellets from this plant have a market in the first place. Despite debate over the question of whether wood fuel is carbon neutral, some industries see timber as a lower cost solution to the effects that fossil fuels like coal and oil have on increasing the earth’s temperature.
When asked if she believes alternative energy is important, Hyde-Smith said, “Absolutely. It’s very important.”
She declined to elaborate or respond to follow-up questions from Mississippi Today, however. The senator ignored one question about her reasons for supporting alternative fuels, her aides telling a reporter she did not have time for additional questions. And when asked if she believed the accepted science that climate change is man-made, she stepped into a waiting car and said, “We will talk about this later.”
In a state that relies heavily on agriculture, which is severely affected by extreme weather events, Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and formerly oversaw the state ag commission, plays an important role in policymaking and advocacy for Mississippi farmers. Meanwhile, her colleague, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker in 2015 was the lone member of the Senate