West Virginia governor on 2020 Dems' 'way out' climate change rhetoric: They don't understand importance of coal, gas industries

Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice reacted Friday to the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls who are vowing to take bold action against climate change.

“You see the cast of characters that are spewing out this stuff just to get on the soapbox and make a scene,” Justice told “Fox & Friends.”

The governor's comments came as school districts across the country are debating whether to follow New York City’s lead after it allowed its students to participate in Friday's global youth climate strikes without punishment.

Justice said that many do not understand how important the coal and gas industries are to the country. He said if there were a hypothetical moratorium on those industries for 60 or 90 days, the impact would be "beyond belief."

"We just don't think about that," he added.

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Hillary Clinton famously vowed in 2016 to "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business" through policies geared toward new energy sources. She lost every county in the state to Trump after drawing the ire of coal miners and the state led the nation in GDP growth and personal income growth in the first quarter of 2019.

“In West Virginia, we’ve got so many great people that go to work every day and do great stuff for this nation,” Justice said.

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Meanwhile, 2020 Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang suggested at a climate change forum on Thursday that the U.S. should try addressing climate change by raising the cost of beef. A Georgetown student claimed reducing demand on the cattle industry was the only realistic way to mitigate the industry's impact on the environment.

"Cattle is very energy-consuming and energy-expensive," Yang said, "and if you project forward on what we would need to do to reduce emissions, you would want to modify Americans' diets over time."

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Justice, a former Democrat, said the ideas coming from the left on climate change are far outside the mainstream.

"This is not a conservative Democrat way either, this is such a way out philosophy that all it's going to do is destroy America and the way of life we have today and that we've celebrated for years and years," he said.

“It is absolutely a crying shame as to what people are doing in preying on the uninformed."

Fox News' Victor Garcia contributed to this report.