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Conservative Climate Change?



I'm surprised the right-wing Washington Examiner has an "energy and environmental reporter," but that's what Josh Siegel is and today he reported that a gaggle of House Republicans-- 50 of 'em-- have launched a conservative climate caucus. The leader is John Curtis of Utah and members include Garret Graves (LA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Bruce Westerman (AR), Frank Lucas (OK), David Valadao (CA), Maria Salazar (FL), David McKinley (WV), Michael McCaul (TX, in fact the man whose mansion uses more water than any other private residence in Texas), Lee Zeldin (NY), Michael Cloud (TX), Stephanie Bice (OK) and Nancy Mace (SC).


Curtis' press release claims "the Caucus will be focused on educating Republican House Members on conservative climate solutions that align with Republican principles and are based on an agenda that will make real progress through American innovation and ultimately enhance American prosperity."


Frank Macchiarola, chief lobbyist for the rabidly anti-Climate amelioration American Petroleum Institute understands that this silly new group will be an ally of the Oil Industry, not a threat. "Our industry," he said with a straight face, "is committed to working with Congress and the administration to support pro-market, innovative, and economy-wide policies that build on our nation’s progress in driving emissions to generational lows. Reducing the risks of climate change while providing access to affordable, reliable energy will require bipartisan solutions and we are pleased to see the formation of this new caucus."


A senior vice president, Marty Durbin, for most anti-Climate group in DC, the Chamber of Commerce had the same reaction as the API: "The Chamber welcomes all efforts to achieve meaningful, achievable climate solutions. In order to be durable, Congress should seek to enact climate policy that enjoys broad and bipartisan support, so it is imperative to have Members on both sides of the aisle that are engaged in these efforts. The engagement of conservative voices is critical to building that consensus, and we look forward to working with the Conservative Climate Caucus and others in Congress to achieve those objectives."


One Democrat in Congress, on condition of anonymity, told me this afternoon that some of the Republicans, including Curtis, who signed up for the caucus are sincere about trying to "stick a toe into the raging Climate Crisis" but that from what he can see, they are "constrained by precepts that are inimical to the urgency and scope of the problem."

Still, the NY Times' Lisa Friedman reported yesterday that though many Republicans are in the closet about concern for Climate Change-- "It’s terrible that Republicans can’t even go talk about it without being embarrassed," said Curtis-- "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."


George David Banks, a former Trump adviser, now a senior fellow at the oddly-named Bipartisan Policy Center, a right-wing Washington think tank told Friedman that "There is a recognition within the GOP 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." [Republicans realize it is now] "a political liability" to dismiss or even avoid discussing climate change.


Curtis said that the Republican ideas about the Climate Crisis include "free-market policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions, as formulated by new conservative think tanks. One is C3 Solutions, which is co-led by a former aide to the late Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who called global warming 'crap.' The organization also recently attracted an energy policy expert from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that until recently promoted vociferous critics of climate change."

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.

Meanwhile, Mr. McCarthy and other Republicans remain opposed to President Biden’s climate proposals, which include a clean electricity standard, which would require utilities to gradually increase the amount of electricity they produce from wind, solar and other renewable sources until they are no longer burning fossil fuels. 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.
...In many ways, the recent rally in a Miami park overlooking the blue waters of Biscayne Bay illustrated the difficulties facing the Republican Party.
Juliana Strout, a local commissioner and former Miss Rhode Island M.C.’d the event, trying her best to pump up the crowd of roughly 200, which offered a smattering of weak ‘woo hoos’ as the speakers blared Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud.”
Although Senator Marco Rubio, Representative Maria Salazar and Governor Rob DeSantis were among the invited Republican leaders, just one sitting member of Congress, Representative Carlos Giménez, attended.
Immediately after he left the stage, Mr. Giménez showed 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.
Carlos Curbelo, a Republican former congressman from Florida who has been urging his party to take on climate change for years, told the audience Republicans shouldn’t “just turn this issue over to the left.” But he had to shout over some attendees who held handwritten signs proclaiming “There is NO climate crisis!”
The same event drew several young Republican activists from different parts of the country who said they were eager to change their party’s reputation as climate deniers.
...Critics question whether the recent moves by Republicans amount to little more than a rebranding campaign, lacking in substance.
Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment who has long attacked the science of climate change, called the Republican moves “a way to win some suburban voters. I don’t take it very seriously.”
The proof is in behavior, not rhetoric, said Representative Kathy Castor, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
“All of this is just greenwashing until they start to align their votes,” Ms. Castor said. “You can talk until the cows come home but you have to follow it up with real action.”