19 House Republicans call on their party to do something about climate change | Dana Nuccitelli

Dana Nuccitelli
Republican Mia Love celebrates with her father, Jean Maxime Bourdeau, after winning the race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District in 2014. Love is a rising star in the GOP, and wants her party to take action to address climate change. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP

While the Trump administration is veering sharply toward climate science denial, 19 House Republicans have taken steps to pull the party in the direction of reality, and the need to combat the threats posed by human-caused climate change.

The Republican Climate Resolution

Last week, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA) led a group of 17 House Republicans in introducing a resolution that calls on Congress to develop policies to tackle climate change.

The Republican Climate Resolution recognizes that environmental stewardship is a conservative principle, that policies should be based on scientific evidence and quantifiable facts, that climate change is having negative impacts and is viewed by the Department of Defense as a threat multiplier, and that we can and must take meaningful action to address these threats in a manner that doesn’t constrain the American economy:

...be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives commits to working constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.

The Resolution has thus far been signed by House Republicans representing districts in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, Nebraska, Virginia, New Jersey, Utah, Washington, and South Carolina.

The bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus

Eleven of the Resolution’s signatories are also members of the Climate Solutions Caucus, as are Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who have not yet signed the Resolution. The Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives – currently comprised of 13 Republicans and 13 Democrats – that explores policy options to address climate change.

Caucus members include some prominent conservative Republicans. Darrell Issa is the former chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Mia Love is viewed as a rising star in the party. Love featured in an episode of the acclaimed program Years of Living Dangerously:

Altogether, this makes 19 Republican members of the House of Representatives calling for or developing policies to tackle climate change.

The conservative Climate Leadership Council

The Republican Climate Resolution also follows a proposal by eight Republican elder statesmen in the Climate Leadership Council – including Secretaries of State and Treasury to former Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush – for the Republican Party to support a bipartisan revenue-neutral carbon tax. The group met with the White House to urge support for this policy. Were President Trump to throw his support behind this bipartisan, free market, small government, economically beneficial solution to climate change, along with the support of these 19 House Republicans, the policy might conceivably gain momentum in Congress.

Republican voters would also support this shift. 62% of Trump voters favor a tax or regulations on carbon pollution, or both. While these voters don’t view climate change as an urgent threat or high priority, and thus aren’t too bothered by their party’s general climate denial and policy obstruction, they would nevertheless prefer that Republican policymakers take steps to address the threats posed by climate change.

A sustainable GOP requires a sustainable climate

It would certainly be a smart move for the Republican Party. The current party policy involves rejecting decades’ worth of scientific evidence and a 97% expert consensus, and rolling back all of the progress America has made to address the threats posed by climate change.

But denying a problem doesn’t make it go away. Climate denial, much like opposition to equal rights for minorities, is a long-term losing proposition. In recent elections, Democrats have won lesbian, gay, and bisexual voters by margins of over 50%, and African-Americans by margins of over 80%.

Republicans could similarly lose today’s young voters, who are particularly concerned about climate change, since they’ll have to live longer with the consequences of the decisions made by today’s politicians. Three-quarters of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 support climate policies.

Ten of the Republican signatories of the Republican Climate Resolution are first- or second-term members of Congress. They’re relatively young and recognize that the long-term health of not just the Earth’s climate, but of the Republican Party depends on the GOP ending its practice of being the only climate-denying major political party in the world.

It’s at least a promising sign that the wise old men in the Climate Leadership Council and the young rising stars of the Climate Solutions Caucus and Republican Climate Resolution all recognize the importance of bringing their party’s view on climate change into the 21st Century.

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