Meet the Republicans who are defying Trump on climate change

This week was tough for the majority of Americans that acknowledge the science behind climate change — and that includes conservatives. A national poll by ClearPath found the majority of voters — including a majority of conservative Republicans — think the climate has changed and that human action is contributing at least a little to the change.

On Tuesday, Trump signed The Energy Independence Executive Order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The sweeping executive order rolls back Obama-era regulations that seek to stop and reverse climate change in accordance with the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. The executive order came in addition to the president’s budget proposal, which seeks to make astronomical cuts to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the EPA.

But being a climate skeptic is not a prerequisite for Republicans. In fact, the majority of Americans — including a majority of Republicans and millennials — say they want action on climate change. Furthermore, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows a majority of Republican supporters think the U.S. should play a leading role in combating climate change.

Conservative and liberal environmentalists both agree that climate change is a real and immediate threat but they often disagree about the best way to tackle it. Commonly, conservative environmental advocates disagree with liberal regulations around fossil fuels and instead support the carbon tax as a “free enterprise” solution to climate change. Far from being an unreasonable idea, the carbon tax is touted by many economists as the best way to tackle climate change.

Julia Yellow

republicEn is a conservative green group that is dedicated to finding a solution to climate change. The front page of their website lays out an idealistic path towards a clean-up revolution, where conservatives are the leaders.

“There was a moment in history when conservatives had the opportunity to prove that our principles could solve big problems. You seized that moment. By banding together with other ecoRight conservatives, you turned climate warming from an afterthought into a priority for conservative lawmakers…Conservatives led. Americans came together. The world followed. You were proud. Now, this climate crisis isn’t looking so ominous…American technology is accelerating a clean-energy revolution around the world. You were part of something big.”

Another conservative green group, ConservAmerica, has been a vocal proponent of environmental policies since 1995. On Tuesday, they sent out a press release regarding Trump’s executive order on climate change. The press release explained that while the organisation was displeased with the “one size fits all” Clean Power Plan, they still believe the USA needs a national power plan.

“We need a national power plan. It has to be based in reality: One reality is that climate change is real, anthropogenic, and presents a clear and present danger to the health, safety, security and prosperity of the United States,” wrote Executive Director, Paul Walker.

This isn’t the only battle that the green group has waged against Trump. ConservAmerica has also come out hard against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which Trump recently advanced using an executive order.

“We have concluded that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to properly consider the environmental risks projected on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Furthermore, the entire notion of environmental justice appears to have been forgotten,” wrote ConservAmerica in an official press release on DAPL last year.

On Wednesday March 15, seventeen Republicans in congress signed a resolution acknowledging the science of climate change and vowing to seek an “economically viable” way to combat it. The resolution is in direct opposition to President Trump, who has said multiple times that he thinks climate change is a hoax. The resolution was sponsored by Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, and Carlos Curbelo of Florida.

Curbelo has vocally opposed the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, and Pruitt’s suggestion that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with climate change.

“The head of the EPA’s comments were disconcerting,” said Curbelo. “What he said was akin to saying the earth is flat in 2017. We must insist on evidence-based and science-based policies.”

Curbelo’s Miami district is immediately threatened by rising sea levels brought on by climate change, and he is pushing hard to make the Republican party pro-science.

“Rising carbon emissions have been a contributing factor to climate change for decades. That is a scientific fact and the reality facing communities like my district. The EPA is tasked with the very responsibility of helping to lower the impact of carbon emissions, and for Mr. Pruitt to assert otherwise without scientific evidence is reckless and unacceptable,” said Curbelo.

The Republican party has a rich history of conservation. Teddy Roosevelt left a conservation legacy when he established 230 million acres of public land during his Presidency. President Lincoln signed the Yosemite grant legislation in 1864. Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.

The role of these conservative environmental advocates cannot be stressed enough when you consider only 20 out of 237 Republicans in the House of Representatives has addressed climate change in the past year. Climate change is not a bipartisan issue. The scientific evidence does not change with the administration. We need more conservatives like Curbelo, who take pride in their planet.

After all, the root of conservative is the word conserve.


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