Montana GOP Senate Candidate’s Ongoing Hypocrisy On Climate

The Trump-endorsed MAGA conservative keeps flip-flopping on the climate — and SEC filings reveal how hypocritical he really is.

Montana businessman Tim Sheehy built his aerial firefighting company, Bridger Aerospace, on certain scientific realities — namely that global climate change is real and driving more extreme wildfires. He even touted it as a leader in the fight against planet-warming emissions.

But when it came time to campaign for the U.S. Senate, the GOP hopeful quickly embraced partisan talking points on climate, repeatedly railing against what he calls the “climate cult” and “radical environmentalists,” while blaming the growing wildfire threat exclusively on forest mismanagement.

And while the Trump-endorsed 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 writes that “we believe that rising global temperatures have been, and in the future are expected to be, one factor contributing to increasing rates and severity of wildfires.” It cites climate research, including an Environmental Protection Agency website that notes “multiple studies have found that climate change has already led to an increase in wildfire season length, wildfire frequency, and burned area.” And it warns shareholders and potential investors that climate change poses numerous risks to the company.

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

“Further, we have been studying the potential effects of climate change (increased severity and frequency of storm events, sea level rise, land subsidence, change in temperature extremes, changes in precipitation patterns and drought, and wildfire) on Bridger’s assets, operations and services, and we are developing adaptation plans to set forth a strategy for those events and conditions that we believe are most significant,” it continues. “Consequences of these climate-driven events may vary widely and could include increased stress on our services due to new patterns of demand, physical damage to our fleet and infrastructure, higher operational costs and an increase in the number [of] requests for our services. In addition, we could incur substantial costs to repair or replace aircraft and facilities.

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

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

It wasn’t long ago that Sheehy spoke freely about the climate and wildfire threats. 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 globally as we see the effects of climate change and urbanization,” he said. “We’re seeing fires become larger, they move faster, they’re hotter, and most importantly it’s becoming more and more critical to combat them early because of the amount of settlement 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 on incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) just five months later, in June. Before doing so, Bridger scrubbed climate language from its website, including a line about the company “fighting on the front lines of climate change,” as ABC News first reported. Right out of the gate, Sheehy seemingly abandoned any concern about the global crisis — one that his party has spent decades denying and downplaying while cheerleading for planet-warming fossil fuels.

As the campaign has rolled along, Sheehy has advanced his attacks against climate activists and environmentalists. He’s described John Kerry, who until recently served as President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, as the “Supreme Leader of the Climate Cult,” accused Biden of being “more worried about the climate cult than our national security and men and women in uniform,” and railed against both the federal government — his company’s biggest client — and “radical environmentalists.”

“When radical Democrats tell us they want to shut down our economy and kill Montana jobs — we ought to take them at their word and take them out of office,” he wrote in a recent post to X, formerly Twitter.

On his campaign website, Sheehy blames 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 litigation.”

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

Sheehy’s campaign did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, nor did it respond when HuffPost first wrote about the stark divide between Sheehy’s newfound rhetoric on climate and the company’s strategy.

Bridger’s latest SEC filing offers a unique glimpse into Sheehy’s ongoing involvement with the company and how his campaign could negatively impact business.

“Although Mr. Sheehy continues to spend significant time with Bridger and remain highly active in our management during his candidacy, he has not devoted his full time and attention to Bridger. Mr. Sheehy has spent, and expects to continue to spend, time campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat,” the filing states. “Additionally, Mr. Sheehy and we may be the targets of one or more negative media campaigns in connection with Mr. Sheehy’s U.S. Senate campaign. Public perception of, or news related to, Mr. Sheehy or his U.S. Senate campaign may adversely affect our brand, relationship with customers, suppliers, employees or other of our stakeholders or our standing in the industry, any of which could materially impair our business and results of operations.”

Part of that might come down to the company’s own founder and CEO’s partisan about-face on what has been a key pillar of Bridger Aerospace’s business approach.

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