Rand Paul talks climate change with Bill Maher

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, says the rhetoric in the climate change debate can be exaggerated.

Story highlights

  • Rand Paul says he wants the marketplace to determine alternative sources of energy
  • Kentucky senator hails from coal country and has taken a tough stance on the "war on coal"
  • Paul was appearing on Bill Maher's HBO talk show
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican who hails from Kentucky coal country, tried to find some "middle ground" with HBO host Bill Maher on climate change, saying Friday night that he supports deregulating alternative sources of energy.
"We need more energy, and maybe cleaner energy will supplant less clean energy over time--and it already is--but I don't think that shutting down dramatically one form of energy is a good idea for an economy," the first-term senator said on "Real Time."
While saying he's not against some regulations, such as on carbon emissions and clean water, Paul said he plans on introducing legislation "in the next month or so" that would cut regulation of alternative fuels.
"I'm for trying to get the government out of the way of converting your trucks from diesel to natural gas, or from gasoline to ethanol," he said. "And try to let the marketplace take care of this, because some of these fuels are actually cheaper, too, and if they're cheaper then people will go for a cheaper alternative that also is cleaner for the environment."
His comments come as Paul, who's planning a presidential run but says he hasn't made a final decision yet, has blasted President Obama and other Democrats for supporting policies that would negatively affect the coal industry in his home state.
He has also gone after the Environmental Protection Agency for what he describes as overbearing regulations.
And Paul blasted Hillary Clinton this fall for arguing that climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the United States.
On the show Friday, Paul continued to argue that the rhetoric in the climate change debate can be exaggerated.
"It gets so far out there, and it does almost get there with a religiosity that I don't think we need to have," he said. "If we're going to say the Statue of Liberty is drowning, that's alarmist."
Maher, a liberal leaning independent who shares some of Paul's libertarian views, sounded encouraged by Paul's talk on alternative energy but challenged the senator on his point about the discussion surrounding climate change.
Joining the Los Angeles-based program remotely from Washington, Paul also answered questions about the recent call to increase the number of troops in Iraq to fight ISIS. "I'm not for sending any troops into Iraq, and will oppose sending any of our troops back into Iraq," he said.
Also on the program, Paul reiterated his position in favor of criminal justice reform for nonviolent drug convictions and vowed: "I will do everything to end war on drugs."
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