The Environmental Divide: GOP Candidates Spar Over Climate Change

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"There's certainly an element within the Republican Party that believes that if we accept the science of climate change that will result in more government control of the economy and more cumbersome regulations," DiPeso said.

And more government regulation is exactly what presidential hopefuls Perry, Bachmann and Paul are campaigning against. All three of them have said they would do away with the EPA altogether if elected.

At a campaign stop in Iowa earlier this month, Bachmann said the EPA, or the Job-Killing Organization of America as she called it, would be her first target for repeal.

While Paul said during his 2007 presidential campaign that the EPA would "not be first on [his] list," the small-government advocate said it was a "a bureaucratic, intrusive approach, and it favors those who have political connections."

Despite the wide range of climate change opinions within the GOP presidential field, environmental policy ranks far down the list of topics that Americans said they would base their 2012 vote on.

I don't think climate change is going to be the make-or-break thing for these candidates," said Andy Roth, the vice president for governmental affairs at the Club for Growth. "Their overall record on economic issues is what's going to matter."

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