This week’s must read #1: A conservative case for climate action (New York Times)
This week’s must read #2: Unmasking the deceit over climate change (Greenville Journal)
Welcome to this week’s expanded edition of ClimateEye. We start by applauding the most recent addition to the ecoright family, the Conservative Leadership Council (CLC), an international research and advocacy organization which promotes “pro-growth, pro-competitiveness and pro-working class” climate change solutions.
The happy buzz you heard coming from free market climate circles was generated in response to Wednesday’s rollout of a carbon dividend plan spearheaded by former Secretaries of State James A. Baker and George Shultz and former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, conservative economists Greg Mankiw, Martin Feldstein and CLC’s founder Ted Halstead, who said in a statement the “mounting evidence of climate change is growing too strong to ignore.” The group took their message straight to the White House where they met with key advisors to President Donald Trump to present their proposal. Their carbon dividend plan would start by taxing carbon emissions at $40/ton, an amount that would ramp up over time, generating approximately $2000 in rebates on the outset for a family of four. The plan would repeal the Clean Power Plan and other Obama-era climate regulations in lieu of the gradually increasing carbon tax.
At the launch, Halstead said climate change has been, “mired in partisan politics…The simplistic view is that Democrats want to solve climate change and Republicans don’t. Well, as today’s statement, our statement, proves, that is not true.” In an interview with CNN, Baker noted that “Republicans have not been at the table” but their proposal is “a good plan” and deserves Congressional and White House consideration.
While specifics on what was discussed at the White House meeting continue to emerge (press secretary Sean Spicer had no comment), Halstead reported Trump’s advisors “really understood the policy” and “gave some favorable comments.”
Reaction on and off Capitol Hill was mixed. North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, who advised Trump during the campaign, said never “in a million years” would Congress pass a carbon tax or the president support one. In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said “I don’t know whether we’ll do [a carbon tax] or not. But it’s in the mix… it would be something to consider.” Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney took to Twitter to praise the proposal as a “thought-provoking plan from highly respected conservatives to both strengthen the economy and confront climate risks.”
But wait, there’s more climate news.
The House Climate Solutions Caucus expanded again with the announcement of two new Republican members. Rep. David Reichert (WA-8) and Rep. Don Bacon (NE-2), joined with two Democratic colleagues. (The bipartisan caucus follows a “Noah’s Ark” rule.) “This was a promise I made to constituents of my district, and I keep my promises,” Bacon said in a statement. “Climate change is a serious issue that could prove to be devastating not only to our environment but also to our economy,” Reichert said. The Caucus now has 24 members.
Related, Caucus co-founder Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) said he thinks Trump’s advisors “understand the issue” of climate change. “And I believe that at the appropriate time, they are going to make their voices heard and they’re going to try to shape the policies of this administration,” he said without identifying specifically who he means.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who still awaits a vote by the U.S. Senate to become the next Secretary of Energy, indicated he believes the U.S. “can achieve both economic growth and emissions reductions with the right policies” in response to written follow up questions from his confirmation hearing. “I am committed to thoughtful policies that balance these two objectives,” he wrote. “That said, before committing to policies and programs that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, I would like to see what those programs entail.” Perry passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 16-7.
At a raucous town hall meeting over the weekend, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA-4) responded to a variety of constituent issues, including calls to support climate change science. “In any scientific arena you are seeing a very vigorous debate over the extent to which man-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming,” he said to mixed response from the crowd. “Whether or not we destroy our economy for our children, our planet is going to continue to warm and cool as it has for billions of years.”
Are you still with us? If so, thanks for following along. As always, we appreciate your feedback, news tips, chocolate (or sea salt caramels), and messages of goodwill.