This week in eco-right climate change news: the team at republicEn.org is sending thoughts and prayers to the godfather of climate change action, Sen. John McCain. We are confident that this American hero and national maverick will tackle cancer with the grit, grace and determination he has every other challenge he’s overcome.

Ex-cabinet member pushes carbon tax: According to reporting by E&E News, Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who has advocated for climate change action since leaving office in 2009, spoke at a closed-door meeting of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, last week on Capitol Hill, where he made a case for swift climate action, potentially through a carbon tax.

Caucus amps up activity: Caucus co-founders and Florida delegation mates Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Rep. Ted Deutch are transitioning the group into a more active legislative force, and to that end, a package of eight climate bills was also presented at the Paulson meeting. Last week, all but two caucus members fended off an attack on climate-related provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Can caucus hit 50? According to Axios, Michigan’s Rep. Fred Upton is considering joining the bipartisan group. The former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee says he’s “running the traps” on joining. He voted with the 46 Republicans who killed the anti-climate NDAA amendment.

Ayotte joins effort: Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire, who narrowly lost her re-election bid in November, joined Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions as a senior advisor. The nonprofit group supports renewable energy policies at the state and federal level and aims to highlight and grow the network of Republican lawmakers who support clean energy solutions. “I find [that] especially younger voters care very much about having clean air, clean water. It’s an issue that we should be looking for ways for Republicans to lead,” Ayotte said.

The Governator speaks: Former California Governor and passionate eco-righter Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke on the record about his reaction to a vote to extend the state’s carbon emissions reduction policies and the Republican support that made the victory possible. “This could be a really great inspiration for other Republicans around the country. To look at this and say they had the guts to do something that is right. Why don’t we try to do what is right, not just what is right for the party, but what is right for the people?” Read the entire interview here.

States act: Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott today is scheduled to create a “climate change commission” to help “identify steps the state must take to achieve the state’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission goals while maintaining a focus on affordability and the economy.”

Going to the Vatican? Callista Gingrich, the nominee for ambassador to the Vatican, stated this week in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that President Donald Trump “wants to maintain that we have clean air and clean water and that the United States remains an environmental leader,” while also testifying that she only “looked at some” of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and climate change. She told committee members she believes the climate is changing and that “some of it is due to human behavior” and that “If confirmed, I look forward to working with Holy See as the United States pursues a balanced approach to climate policy.” She is married to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Jester of the week: President Trump boasted that the economy has created 45,000 coal mining jobs since he took office. “In Pennsylvania, two weeks ago, they opened a mine, the first mine that was opened in decades….Well, we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time,” Trump said. “Everybody was saying, ‘Well, you won’t get any mining jobs,’ we picked up 45,000 mining jobs. Well, the miners are very happy with Trump and with Pence, and we’re very proud of that.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the figure is closer to 800 new coal mining jobs.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint, though in this weather, who wants to run at all? Still, every bit of progress counts. Keep making a difference and see you next week.