House Republicans Form ‘Conservative Climate Caucus’ To Save Planet For Rich People
In a sign that even Republicans are starting to realize that rising sea levels will endanger coastal real estate values, some Republican members of the House have formed a “Conservative Climate Caucus” that will work on presenting fiscally conservative ideas for dealing with the climate crisis.
Mind you, the crisis requires massive, worldwide changes in energy production and use, which isn’t going to happen if it’s left up to the Free Market, whose hand, like carbon dioxide emissions, is invisible. The kinds of incremental free markety changes being advocated by caucus founder John Curtis (R-Utah) might have made a difference had they been adopted 30 years ago, but now, they can only be a supplement to the more systemic changes we need to make.
Still, to update the old LBJ line about J. Edgar Hoover, better to have them inside the tent recycling their piss for reuse, no? After decades of Republicans doing all they can to deny the reality of the crisis, like Jim Inhofe’s infamous snowball on the Senate floor, it’s good to see at least a few Republicans take step in the right direction. Please don’t step in the recycled pee, folks.
It’s difficult to read the New York Times coverage of the nascent GOP climate bunch without being reminded of another special group of Republicans who dared to defy the party’s conventional orientation, as it were. Yes, know that climate desk reporter Lisa Friedman is playing it up as she describes a cautious Utah gathering of Republicans who are aware climate change is real, or who were at least cli-curious:
When Representative John Curtis quietly approached fellow Republicans to invite them to discuss climate change at a clandestine meeting in his home state of Utah, he hoped a half dozen members might attend.
Eventually, 24 showed up for the two-day conference in Salt Lake City.
“Some came with the promise of being anonymous. It’s terrible that Republicans can’t even go talk about it without being embarrassed,” Mr. Curtis said in an interview.
Uh huh. And did they make up cover stories in case their spouses found out where they went, like insisting they were really at a gathering of the Log Cabin Republicans? Still, with the evidence well past “overwhelming” for all but the most deeply in denial, Friedman writes,
Now, many in the Republican Party are coming to terms with what polls have been saying for years: independents, suburban voters and especially young Republicans are worried about climate change and want the government to take action.
“There is a recognition within the G.O.P. that if the party is going to be competitive in national elections, in purple states and purple districts, there needs to be some type of credible position on climate change,” said George David Banks, a former adviser to President Trump and now a senior fellow at the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center, a centrist Washington think tank. […]
“It’s my hope that any Republican that belongs to this caucus, if asked about climate in a town-hall meeting, will feel very comfortable talking about it,” Mr. Curtis said[.]
So hooray for Republicans ready to come out on the side of reality. They’re recognizing that flat out denial isn’t going to win them votes, and they even realize that Fourth of July fireworks in DC will be much nicer if the National Mall isn’t underwater.
Unfortunately, Curtis and the 52 House members in his caucus so far are only taking the most timid possible positions. It goes without saying they’re not willing to support the big spending programs that are needed.
And while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said he plans to set up a task force on climate change, he also declined to be interviewed for the Times story. He and other Republican leaders have refused to support the climate measures in Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, and McCarthy has only offered the teensiest legislation to address climate:
A package of bills Mr. McCarthy introduced on Earth Day championed carbon capture, a nascent and expensive technology that catches carbon emissions generated by power plants or factories and stores them before they escape into the atmosphere. It also promoted tree planting and expansion of nuclear energy, a carbon-free power source that many Republicans prefer over wind or solar energy.
Those policies would do little to reduce the fossil fuel emissions that are driving up average global temperatures and causing more extreme heat, drought and wildfires; more intense storms; and rapid extinction of plant and wildlife species. Republicans have not offered any specific targets for cutting emissions […]
And leading Republicans continue to spread a lie that Mr. Biden wants to force Americans to stop eating hamburgers, because of the environmental harm caused by beef production.
The article makes no mention of fossil fuel subsidies, but as the New Republic points out McCarthy’s response to the Colonial Pipeline hack was to call for more oil and gas development.
Even Curtis frames his new caucus as a means of pursuing market-based approaches to the climate emergency that will serve as alternatives to “radical progressive climate proposals” from Democrats.
And then there’s the problem of climate-conscious Republicans who can’t seem to break old habits. At a recent conservative climate rally in Miami, the only current Republican member of Congress to show up, Rep. Carlos Giménez, followed up his appearance on the stage by “[showing] a reporter a Wikipedia entry that he claimed proved sea level rise is not caused primarily by fossil fuel emissions — something scientists say is inaccurate.”
Another participant, Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago, couldn’t help insisting that his solar-powered home and electric BMW made him way more committed to addressing climate change than people who criticize the GOP’s decades of science denial.
“Many Democrats pass legislation and take ownership of climate legislation but are not walking the walk. Show me what you’re doing,” Mr. Lago said. “Instead of just talking about it I want to see what you’re doing.”
For one thing, we’re not pretending that individual action alone will be enough, not without remaking our economy. But sure, welcome to the struggle, asshole. Solidarity forever.
The event was also attended by hecklers carrying signs saying “There is NO climate crisis!” They tried to shout down several of the speakers. Still, nobody seems to have shown up with an AR-15, so that’s a positive development.
We guess we welcome these baby steps from some Republicans. The real test: even if they aren’t willing to endorse bold action, will they at least let it go forward, or will they be with the rest of their party trying to stop meaningful progress? We’ll find out soon enough.
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