Montana GOP Candidate Tim Sheehy's Hypocrisy on Climate

Montana businessman Tim Sheehy built his aerial firefighting company, Bridger Aerospace, based on certain scientific realities — namely that global climate change is real and causing more extreme wildfires. He even did called it a leader in the fight against global warming.

But when it came time to campaign for the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party hopeful quickly embraced partisan climate talking points, repeatedly railing against what he calls the “climate cult” and “radical environmentalists” while addressing the growing threat of blamed forest fires solely on forest mismanagement. .

And while the Trump-backed MAGA conservative flipped his script on climate, his company continues to embrace climate and wildfire science — at least in public filings.

In its latest annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, filed in March, Bridger Aerospace wrote that “we believe that rising global temperatures have been, and are expected to continue to be, one of the factors contributing to the increasing number and severity of forest fires. It cites climate research, including an Environmental Protection Agency website which notes that “multiple studies have shown that climate change has already led to increases in the length of the wildfire season, the frequency of wildfires, and the area burned.” And it warns shareholders and potential investors that climate change poses numerous risks to the company.

“The potential physical impacts of climate change, such as the increased frequency and severity of storms, floods, fires, fog, haze, freezing temperatures, sea level rise and other climate-related events, could affect our operations, infrastructure and financial activities. results,” the document said.

“Furthermore, we studied the potential impacts of climate change (increased severity and frequency of storms, sea level rise, land subsidence, change in extreme temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns and drought, and wildfires) on Bridger's assets, operations and operations. services, and we are developing adaptation plans to strategize for the events and conditions we believe are most important,” the report continues. “The impacts of these climate-induced events could vary widely and could include increased pressure on our services due to new demand patterns, physical damage to our fleet and infrastructure, higher operating costs and an increase in the number [of] requests for our services. In addition, we may incur significant costs to repair or replace aircraft and facilities.

Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and founder of an aerial firefighting company based in Montana, announced his Republican campaign for U.S. Senate last year.

Sheehy, a decorated former Navy SEAL, founded Bridger Aerospace in 2014 after retiring from the military and continued to serve as CEO while running for office.

It wasn't that long ago that Sheehy spoke freely about the climate and the threat of wildfires. In a January 2023 interview with journalist Jane King on Nasdaq Marketplace, Sheehy described wildfires as a global, climate-fueled “crisis.”

“The wildfire crisis is really spreading around the world as we see the effects of climate change and urbanization,” he said. “We're seeing fires getting bigger, moving faster, hotter, and most importantly it's becoming increasingly important to fight them early because of the amount of settlements we have in wildfire-prone areas.”

Sheehy said demand for his company's services has “skyrocketed” in recent years, with no signs of slowing down.

Sheehy launched his bid to take over incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) just five months later in June. Before doing so, Bridger removed climate language from its website, including a line about the company “fighting on the front lines of climate change,” as ABC News first reported this. Sheehy has seemingly abandoned any concern about the global crisis — a crisis his party has denied and downplayed for decades while championing global warming caused by fossil fuels.

As the campaign has progressed, Sheehy has continued his attacks on climate activists and environmentalists. He has described John Kerry, who until recently was President Joe Biden's climate envoy, as the “Supreme leader of the climate cult”, Biden accused “more concerned about the climate cult than our national security and men and women in uniform,” and denounced both the federal government – ​​his company’s largest customer – and “radical environmentalists.”

“When radical Democrats tell us they want to shut down our economy and eliminate jobs in Montana, we should take them at their word and remove them from office,” he recently wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

About his campaign websiteSheehy blames the increasingly catastrophic wildfires not on climate change and urbanization, but on poor forest management and “radical environmentalists who are suing and shutting down timber projects with frivolous lawsuits.”

It's hard to overstate the irony in Sheehy's dismissal of climate action as job-killing, as his company continues to tout its climate credentials to win lucrative government contracts and grow its business. Contracts from federal and state governments accounted for 88% and 99% of Bridger's revenue in 2023 and '22, respectively. However, like the Montana Free Press first reported this month, Bridger is deep in the red, reporting a net loss of $77.4 million in 2023.

Sheehy's campaign did not respond to JS's request for comment, nor did it when JS first wrote about the wide disconnect between Sheehy's new climate rhetoric and the company's strategy.

Bridger's latest SEC filing provides a unique look into Sheehy's continued involvement with the company and how his campaign could negatively impact the business community.

“While Mr. Sheehy continues to devote significant time to Bridger and remains very active in our management during his candidacy, he has not devoted his full time and attention to Bridger. Mr. Sheehy has spent time, and expects to continue to do so, campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat,” the filing said. “In addition, Mr. Sheehy and we may be the target of one or more negative media campaigns related to Mr. Sheehy's campaign for the United States Senate. Public perception of, or news related to, Mr. Sheehy or his U.S. Senate campaign could negatively impact our brand, relationships with customers, suppliers, employees or other of our stakeholders or our position in the industry, all of which could materially harm our operations. and business results.”

Part of that could be due to the company's founder and CEO's partisan stance on what has been a key pillar of Bridger Aerospace's business approach.

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