Are There Seventeen Reality Based Republican House Members on Climate Change?
Hard to believe, but for reasons that I cannot discern, seventeen (17) Republican Congressional members have signed a "resolution" calling out Trump and his new EPA chief on their views that human caused climate change is not proven. Color me surprised and skeptical, but also hopeful.
Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida, who represents a district in Miami "where streets regularly flood at high tide due to rising sea levels," appears to be the ringleader of the GOP's newest pro-environment "caucus."
"This issue was regrettably politicized some 20 or so years ago, and we are in the process of taking some of the politics out, reducing the noise, and focusing on the challenge and on the potential solutions," Curbelo said in a call with journalists on Tuesday.
Trump's newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a CNBC interview on Thursday that he did not believe carbon dioxide was a major contributor to climate change.
"The head of the EPA's comments were disconcerting. What he said was akin to saying the earth is flat in 2017," Curbelo said. "We must insist on evidence-based and science-based policies."
The resolution calls for Congress to "study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates" and seek ways to "balance human activities" that contribute.
Other Republicans in the past have made similar statements. Last year ten GOP representatives who accept that climate change is real and needs to be addressed won re-election, some in districts carried by Clinton in the general election.
Ten Republicans who co-sponsored a resolution committing to work "constructively" to address climate change, "including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact" on warming, won their re-election bids — including in districts carried by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
That resolution is expected to be reintroduced, with a bigger base of support.
Nine GOP members bucked their party on the recent vote to repeal one of the Obama administration's landmark rules for protecting waterways from coal mining. Eleven Republicans voted against scrapping a Bureau of Land Management rule that seeks to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry.
Right now there are sixteen (16) card carrying GOP members of a
Tree Huggers Caucus devoted to climate issues (whatever that means), eight more than last year. It's too small a number to swing votes against bills that would weaken or dismantle our current environmental protections. However, some environmental advocates are hoping it signifies a trend within the Republican party to accept the reality of anthropogenic climate disruption, and work across party lines with House Democrats (or at least those who actually give a damn about the environment) to fight against the stated goals of the Trump administration, as represented in the platform of the Republican party that actively opposes any action to address, mitigate or adapt to the severe consequences that increased greenhouse gas emissions - primarily caused by human activity - are creating around the world.
"If you get 40 Republicans, then you have about the same size as the Freedom Caucus, and I consider that to be a blocking minority within the majority," said Danny Richter, legislative and science director for Citizens' Climate Lobby, a group that advocates for a revenue-neutral carbon tax and dividend plan. [...]
Other factors could weigh in their favor. President Trump's approval rating has been coasting below 50 percent. Midterm elections historically do not favor the president's party. While bucking GOP orthodoxy on contentious issues like guns or health care could drive away voters, the 2016 election proved Republicans who distance themselves from Trump on climate can win.
In Florida, for instance, voters crossed party lines to re-elect Curbelo and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen while supporting Clinton. Curbelo co-founded the climate caucus, and Ros-Lehtinen is a member. Both members, who represent Miami-area districts, backed the climate resolution sponsored by retired Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.).
Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan, another GOP supporter of climate action who represents the Philadelphia suburbs, easily beat back a primary challenge from the right.
For now, I am in wait and see mode. This may be simply a publicity stunt by this small band of Republican House members who represent districts where people are not under the influence of climate denial. Whether it turns into a real pro-climate faction within the GOP remains to be seen. For now it appears limited to a few representatives in swing districts and coastal areas that are under threat from rising sea levels. If it can grow beyond that relatively small group of Republican Congress critters to become a significant political force opposing the Trump administration on climate and environmental issues is still up in the air.