Happy first day of summer! I’ll be dodging thunderstorms as we move from pool to baseball field to finally, 24 hours of R&R on the shore.
This week’s must read: We are proud and thrilled that our spokesperson John Sweeney appeared this week in the National Review for his essay, Could a revenue-neural carbon tax be the first step to fight climate change?
“Despite the compelling case for a carbon tax, most Republicans still balk at the idea,” he writes. “How could a tax, of all things, promote innovation? But the simple truth is taxes do foster innovation: They encourage tax dodging. The more taxes get enacted, the more intricate and creative the schemes to dodge them become and the simplest way to dodge a carbon tax is to emit less carbon. In this manner, a carbon tax would spark an explosion of emissions-reducing R&D throughout all sectors.” His piece inspired robust Twitter conversation that we encourage you to follow on the @republicen timeline, but here’s how it started.
We think John responded perfectly. If you’re on Twitter, consider giving him a shout out!
Our ally Jerry Taylor at Niskanen Center captures best what it all means:
When @NRO, long the print playground for some of the most extreme skeptics of climate action, publishes an essay endorsing carbon taxation (from one of our friends at @republicEn, no less), pay attention. Conservative elites are losing faith in denialism. https://t.co/NOkyQ9cN8p
Jerry Taylor (@jerry_jtaylor) June 20, 2019
Tick tock: Last Friday, Pope Francis addressed oil company executives, telling them that climate change “threatens the very future” of humanity, adding that the “doomsday predictions” can no longer be dismissed. “Time is running out!” Francis said during a conference called Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home. “Deliberations must go beyond mere exploration of what can be done, and concentrate on what needs to be done. We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to step forward, or of prioritizing short-term economic benefits.” It is the second year in a row that the Vatican has invited oil executives to Rome. Eni, Exxon, Total, Repsol, BP, Sinopec, ConocPhillips, Equinor and Chevron all participated in the event, according to BBC. “The climate crisis requires our decisive action, here and now,” he said. Francis has long called for climate action and in 2015 dedicated an encyclical to the subject.
Come together: The House Climate Solutions Caucus, which at its height last year swelled to 90 members, 45 from each political party, reconvened under new Republican leadership and with smaller ranks. The bipartisan climate club was the brainchild of Florida Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ted Deutch, but Curbelo lost his seat in November 2018, as did many of the group’s Republican members. Another Florida Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney, took over as GOP co-chair, and he told the Washington Examiner he hopes to propose “everyone in the caucus…vote for some environmental measure,” in order to “give the caucus a little more legitimacy.” Last year, some members were criticized as using membership in the caucus to “green wash” their environmental record. “I’d like to think we can continue to speak about these issues and get some more traction with some of the Republican members on climate change,” Rooney said in a phone interview. “We have had a few Republicans say some things recently to speak up about climate change. It’s just that they haven’t gone as far as me. I am trying to rally support to get more people on board to where I am.”
Since its inception, the caucus only admitted even numbers of Democrats and Republicans in what is referred to as a “Noah’s Ark” approach to keep the group strongly bipartisan. While the kick off numbers are uneven due to heavier GOP member losses in the 2018 election, the caucus will continue to admit even numbers from each side of the aisle. In addition to all of last year’s returning members, two new Republicans also joined: Rep. David Schweikert from Arizona’s 6th District and Rep. Rob Woodall from Georgia’s 7th District. A list of all members can be found here.
Related, Curbelo published this essay in the Tampa Bay Times over the weekend. “The 2018 midterms were bad for Republicans primarily because people felt that the party was out of step with the mainstream. If Republicans continue ignoring the climate change issue, they could further alienate climate voters, even those within our party, and pay the price at the ballot box,” he writes.
On Thursday, Rooney appeared with Delaware Senator Chris Coons on a panel at the Brookings Institution to talk about carbon pricing. For those who couldn’t make it, a recording of the event is available here.
Waste not, want not: Six lawmakers, three Republicans and three Democrats, teamed up to introduce a bill to improve energy and water efficiency in federal buildings. The Federal Energy and Water Management Performance Act of 2019 would authorize the Federal Energy Management Program and establish energy and water usage reduction goals for federal buildings. Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner, and Rob Portman joined Democrats Mazie Hirono, Jeanne Shaheen, and Joe Manchin to co-sponsor the measure.
I introduced a bill laying out energy & water usage reduction goals for federal buildings through 2030, authorizing for the 1st time the Federal Energy Management Program, which provides guidance & training to help fed agencies meet energy-related goals. https://t.co/ON03kClHa7
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) June 14, 2019
“Promoting greater energy efficiency helps create jobs and protect the environment, and that’s why I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill,” Portman said in a statement. “This measure will help reduce the federal government’s energy and water consumption and increase energy efficiency in federal buildings. The FEMP program has already saved the federal government $50 billion in energy costs, and codifying this important program will ensure continued savings in energy and water use. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues on ways to improve energy efficiency and move this legislation forward.”
“As the largest consumer of energy, it’s important for the federal government to lead by example by improving its energy efficiency and making the necessary resiliency upgrades to survive extreme weather and cyber events,” Gardner added. “The Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program can coordinate government leadership, leverage private financing with performance contracts, and track and report on federal progress. I’m proud to be a sponsor of this bill.”
Buildings account for approximately 40 percent of all U.S. energy consumption and about 70 percent of the country’s electricity consumption.
This week’s must listen: Carbon tax ally Alex Flint from Alliance for Market Solutions is a guest on the podcast My Climate Journey. Give his climate journeyand how being conservative led him to a life of environmentalisma listen.
Nothing about what we collectively are trying to do is easy. That’s why we’re better working together. Keep up the focus, the good work, and thanks for reading.