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.

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Comments

detroitmechworks's picture

Reminds me a bit of the old Democratic "Designated Bad Guy" strategy which allowed the entire rest of the party to pretend to be the "Good Guys" while simultaneously allowing one of their own to be the scapegoat.

Now, the Rethugs are doing the opposite tactic. "Designated Good Guy". It's even better, because it depends on the Democratic tactic of claiming to be holier than thou, while being corporate tools on the issues. Now the Rethugs can go "progressive" on various minor issues that won't affect the bottom line, and call out ALL the Democrats for Hypocrisy.

If I was an evil asshole, that's of course what I'd do.

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I don't Blame Christians. I Blame Stupid. Which Sadly, is a much more popular religion these days.

Steven D's picture

@detroitmechworks but that designated bad guy routine is usually employed when you are in the minority. The GOP control of the house vastly exceed the Dems, so not sure why they need a "bad guy" on the climate issue, and climate has never been part of the "populist" issue which generally relies on appeals to anger over neo-liberal economic policy and financial insecurity among the working class. These Repubs also expose themselves to far right Tea Party primary challengers by going against the GOP dogma on this issue.

It may just be they live in districts where failing to admit climate issues are real and need to be addressed (such as the guy from Miami) would make those GOP reps vulnerable.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

detroitmechworks's picture

@Steven D However, the Tea Party isn't really a thing anymore, IMHO. It's been replaced by an even FURTHER right wing group.

And Climate change may not be a populist issue, but that's only because of the relentless drumbeat by intellectuals and elitists to claim it's their issue. The issues that Climate Change address dovetail neatly with the poor's agenda now. Pipelines? When thousands are drinking contaminated water and can't afford the gas said pipeline will bring? Not to mention the fact that the contract will go to a rich corporation which will hire illegals to do the work, while claiming they have nothing to do with it?

IMHO, climate change can easily become a populist issue, if it's framed as a class issue of the people versus the rich who garner all the benefits of globalism even if they have to destroy every people and culture on earth to do it.

Yes, it's a very cynical ploy, but one that I feel the Rethugs would be totally in character to embrace. All the while claiming that they can't do anything for the poor because the Democrats are holding everything hostage. (Yes, I expect them to do the same thing, because it worked well. If they can get the Democrats to go along with their pro-corporate agenda, it works even better for the next election.)

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I don't Blame Christians. I Blame Stupid. Which Sadly, is a much more popular religion these days.

Alligator Ed's picture

@detroitmechworks

Yes, I expect them [Repugnants] to do the same thing, because it worked well. If they can get the Democrats to go along with their pro-corporate agenda, it works even better for the next election.

The Dems already go along with the corporate agenda.

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dance you monster's picture

This still is a look-what-district-I'm-in sort of thing. Personal beliefs aside (because politicians will hide those to the end of time if they conflict with what is politically expedient), Meehan (cited in your essay) and Costello (who is one of the three who is spearheading this particular bill today) are representatives in Philadelphia's western suburbs. Those suburbs once were reliably Republican, but in recent decades they've elected Democratic presidents. They are suburbs filled with climate-conscious voters. I'd add that Center-City Philly is seven feet above sea level, for now.

I trust that these rebels on the Republican side are sincere, or at the least are politically aware of their constituencies. We'll see if they achieve enough clout to actually do anything about turning the Republican mantra away from denial.

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I did a search on the topic

This is from Climate Citizens Lobby which I just found out about.

House Republicans introduce climate resolution

You can go to their web page and get links to current legislative action on the right hand side. It does not look good as regulations dropped and agencies are attacked.

Also from that web site found a group

Climate Solutions Caucus

What is the Climate Solutions Caucus?

The Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. The caucus was founded in February of 2016 by two south-Florida representatives Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) who will serve as co-chairs of the caucus.

“The Caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety,” according to documents filed with the Committee on House Administration.
Membership will be kept even between Democrats and Republicans.

CCL applauds this first ever bipartisan caucus on climate change and thanks Rep. Curbelo, Rep. Deutch, and all of the caucus members for their leadership on climate. Read the back story.

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gulfgal98's picture

The impacts of climate change are very real in the metropolitan Miami area and are beginning to be felt in other south Florida coastal areas. There have been a number of calls for south Florida to secede and form a 51st state, much of the reasons are directly related to impacts from climate change.

Miami-Dade alone has more people living less than
4 feet above sea level than any state in the nation except Louisiana.

The porous limestone underlying much of Florida makes the state particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise. Seawalls can’t block seawater from infiltrating underground, and saltwater from the ocean is already contaminating freshwater aquifers.

Rick Scott is a climate change denier. When Rick Scott was elected governor, he issued an order that the words "climate change" and "global warming" were not to be used in any state publications, presentations, or correspondence. This is why elected officials in south Florida began to pursue secession because the state of Florida officially was denying what they knew firsthand as a real climate change crisis.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

gulfgal98's picture

@gulfgal98 Miami-Dade will be the first major city to disappear as a result of climate change.

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12 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

featheredsprite's picture

All the Gulf states shoreline districts are vulnerable. Perhaps some of those representatives will join the effort.

I said "maybe".

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Life is strong. I'm weak, but Life is strong.

Dhyerwolf's picture

Recruit about 5 more members and defect. I'm sorry, you can't credibly claim to fight climate change while belonging to a party that doesn't think it exists. Besides, the Democrats are basically Republicans anyways, so it's not even like they'll really be switching parties.

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@Dhyerwolf @Dhyerwolf

Looks kinds like the Fracking Queen was selected for Coronation because she promoted fracking - can (edit: the Dem Party) be trusted on any issue and, if so, on what grounds would anyone base trust?

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

be a hell of a lot better that it is.

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Organized by the Union Of Concerned Scientists and a couple of other groups. I think this one is real and not a manipulation.

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is only part of the environmental problems we have created. As someone with chronic lung problems, and whose parents, chain smokers, died of lung cancer, I worry most about air poisoning.

Please watch this amazing, important video. (I posted it once before, but this is a better link.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhIZ50HKIp0

The woman who narrates works for the national TV. I admire her courage, since she could be imprisoned at any time. My Chinese friend says this film is censored in China, yet has had a very great impact due to its spread over the net. Of course, the vision of the film is flawed in purporting that China's air problems will be solved by US fracked gas.

Thanks for watching.

sfern

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