Rick SantorumRick Santorum, even nuttier than you think. (Photo by Dave Maass.)

Rick Santorum is way crazy when it comes to environmental issues. How crazy? He makes Newt Gingrich’s moon-colony plans sound plausible and Mitt Romney’s climate flip-floppery look presidential.

On climate change

While Mitt and Newt have both felt compelled to repudiate their former concern for climate change, Santorum can boast that he’s a denier of long standing.

“There is no such thing as global warming,” he told Glenn Beck on Fox News in June 2011.

“It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life and I’ve never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative,” he told Rush Limbaugh that some month.

He went further at an event in Colorado on Feb. 6:

[Climate change is] an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life. … I for one never bought the hoax. I for one understand just from science that there are one hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor in the minor factor is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face. And yet we have politicians running to the ramparts — unfortunately politicians who happen to be running for the Republican nomination for president — who bought into man-made global warming and bought into cap-and-trade.

Note that Santorum doesn’t take the common GOP route of arguing that the science is inconclusive, or even just denying that climate change is actually happening. He takes the extreme Inhofe-ian view that the whole issue is fabricated for nefarious purposes. Science journalist Chris Mooney unpacks the implications: “In using the word ‘hoax,’ Santorum is apparently endorsing the global warming conspiracy theory … that a shady international group of scientists, NGOs, and leftwingers (especially European ones) are out to hamstring economies to advance a red, or at least pink, agenda of global governance. To do this, they need a covert issue to scare everyone into the kinds of changes they demand — hence the bugaboo of global warming.”

On the “reign of environmental terror”

But Santorum doesn’t leave it there. He thinks the green plot goes way beyond climate change. He told an Oklahoma audience on Feb. 9:

[T]he left is always looking for a way to control you. They’re always trying to make you feel guilty, so you’ll give them power so they can lord it over you. They do it on the environment all the time. …

We have to have all sorts of government regulations now because of the threats of hydrofracking. It’s the new bogeyman. It’s the new way to try to scare you … And they’re preying on the Northeast, saying, “Look what’s going to happen. Ooh, all this bad stuff’s gonna happen, we don’t know all these chemicals and all this stuff, what’s gonna happen?” Let me tell you what’s going to happen: Nothing’s going to happen, except they will use this to raise money for the radical environmental groups so they can go out and continue to try to purvey their reign of environmental terror on the United States of America.

Environmentalism is also, apparently, a religion — and not the good kind. Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is just “pandering to radical environmentalists who don’t want energy production, who don’t want us to burn more carbon,” he told Iowans in December. “It has to do with an ideology, a religion of its own that’s being pushed on the American public.”

On dominion over the Earth

When he’s not waxing conspiratorial, Santorum can start sounding completely incoherent, as he did at that Colorado event:

We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit … We are the intelligent beings that know how to manage things and through that course of science and discovery if we can be better stewards of this environment, then we should not let the vagaries of nature destroy what we have helped create.

Doesn’t Santorum believe that God created the Earth and everything on it? Is he saying that nature can’t be trusted to nature? If anyone can translate this passage into plain English, please share in comments below.

On energy subsidies

“All subsidies to energy should be eliminated,” Santorum said on Feb. 6, which might sound good to libertarians as well as some clean-energy advocates who’d like to see a level playing field without huge advantages for fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, Santorum is completely clueless about the issue, as became apparent when he went on to say, “There aren’t a whole lot of them, to be very honest with you.” Not a whole lot of energy subsidies? Really? The U.S. government provided about $72 billion in subsidies to fossil-fuel companies in the seven years from 2002 through 2008, plus another $16.8 billion for corn-based ethanol, according to a study by the Environmental Law Institute. Other estimates of federal energy subsidies are higher, at roughly $20 billion a year. And that doesn’t even consider the indirect subsidies.

If Santorum thinks that’s not a lot of money, he must be some kind of big-government liberal.

On coal

Santorum has a deep love for the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. During his 16 years as a member of Congress and then senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum was a big coal booster — and he continued to play that role even after his defeat in a 2006 Senate race.

In 2003, he supported a Bush EPA rule that allowed dirty, old coal-fired power plants, refineries, and industrial facilities to modernize without adding new pollution controls. In January of this year, he bashed the Obama EPA for restricting mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, ignoring the fact that the new rules will save thousands of lives and prevent developmental problems, learning disabilities, respiratory diseases, and heart attacks. Santorum accused the EPA of acting on a philosophy of “We hate carbon, we hate fossil fuels, we hate blue-collar Americans who work in those areas.”

On oil and natural gas

“Drill everywhere,” Santorum told Glenn Beck last year, and that pretty much sums up his position on oil and natural-gas development.

He’s particularly enthusiastic about fracking: “You know what the Marcellus Shale is? It’s the largest natural gas found in the history of the country, the second largest natural gas field in the world! It’s under Pennsylvania, and we are drilling, baby, drilling. Everywhere.”

Santorum denies or ignores the health and environmental threats posed by fracking, putting him “squarely to the far right of both the already-conservative Pennsylvania Republican Party and even the drilling industry itself,” writes David Sirota in Salon. Sirota explains:

As the Associated Press reports, the state’s Republican legislators just passed a bill “that could force Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry to help pay for a wide range of state and local government programs [and] toughen safety standards” for fracking. … The legitimacy of such concerns are conceded even by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania: As Santorum’s hometown CBS affiliate previously reported, “The president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents natural gas companies, said the group now believes the natural gas exploration industry is partly responsible for rising levels of contaminants found in area drinking water.”

It just so happens that Santorum was one of the top recipients of campaign donations from the oil and gas industry during his time in the Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And after he was booted from the Senate, he got a well-paid consulting gig with Consol Energy, a big coal-mining and fracking company, which he held onto until he launched his presidential bid last year.

On public lands and endangered species

“I’d like to have a lot less federal land. I think that might be a great opportunity for us to reduce the budget deficit is to get rid of and turn over to the private sector a lot of federal lands that don’t need to be in our inventory,” Santorum said at his recent event in Colorado — while stressing that he wouldn’t want to sell off Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

He went on to bash the Endangered Species Act, cringing as he talked about how it hurts business and has hindered logging in an area in Pennsylvania: “We have the Endangered Species Act, which has prevented us from timbering all sorts of acreage there. It’s bankrupted the school district and the like because of the government’s inability to allow for us to care for our resources. A forest in my opinion is like a garden and you’ve got to care for it. If you don’t care for it, you leave it to nature and nature will do what it does: boom and bust.”

To sum up …

“He certainly racked up one of the most anti-environmental records in Congress in his time there,” Navin Nayak, senior vice president at the League of Conservation Voters, told Mother Jones. Santorum earned a lifetime score of just 10 percent on LCV’s scorecard of environmentally significant votes. “He was consistently on the side of polluters.”

And if that’s not enough crazy for you, Santorum also wants women to have lots of babies, whether they like it or not.

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See also: Does Santorum think the pope is a ‘radical environmentalist’?