Welcome Friday! You were missed… we have a newsy update this week, even without the latest EnCourage Tour update!
Hail the mayors! We have another Republican mayor to add to our All Star list. Mayor R. Rex Parris of Lancaster, California transformed his city from one plagued by high unemployment and home foreclosures to a leader in solar energy production. “Up until then, I believed the Republican mantra that this [climate change] is just a Chinese plot,” he said, while highlighting that after construction of a solar thermal plant and the accompanying shift toward renewable energy, the city saw unemployment decrease from 17 percent to four percent, electricity bills dropped three to 15 percent, and today Lancaster leads California in per capita solar energy generation. According to Parris, Lancaster produces more kilowatts of solar energy than the city uses in 10 years. “It just makes sense,” the mayor says, adding solar energy helps “mitigate climate disruption on a much larger scale.”
Bee Hive State believes: According to a recent poll taken by the Salt Lake City Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley School of Politics, a majority of Utahns accept the science of climate change. Fully 71 percent say it’s “real” while 64 percent believe climate change is exacerbated by human activity. According to Rep. Mia Love, the only member of the Utah Congressional Delegation to be a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, “It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to make sure that our children are not just inheriting an economically viable country, but an environmentally viable one.”
Conservatives push carbon tax: As Congress turns to tax code overhaul, conservatives are pushing for lawmakers to consider a carbon tax in the mix. “This is a major policy proposal that Mr. Baker and Mr. Shultz and others have proposed,” Greg Bertelsen, senior vice president of the Climate Leadership Council said. “Like any major proposal, it’s going to take time to build support and educate policymakers.” Former Secretaries of State George Shultz and James A. Baker are proponents of a plan that would tax carbon and return the revenue to Americans as a dividend. “Adding a carbon tax is a way to do tax reform and balance the budget at the same time,” added our own Bob Inglis said. “The idea is to tax pollution, not profits. It’s completely consistent with what conservatives have long advocated.” No Republican lawmaker has indicated support for advancing a carbon tax as part of the reform package.
Alaska’s balancing act: Alaska’s Independent Governor Bill Walker created a state climate change committee, charged with recommending responses to thawing permafrost and sea level rise. The 15-member panel is tasked with delivering a report by September 1, 2018. Walker said “climate change is not going to be set aside” to wait for the state to consider other pressing priorities. Meanwhile, Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is preparing to bring before her committee a proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling. While some have criticized her stance as contradicting her climate position, Murkowski pointed to the “awareness” Alaskans have that they “are seeing the impacts of climate change perhaps more readily than in other parts of the country because of our Arctic environment.”
“But we’re also a place where we recognize that in order to stay warm, we have to have a resource that can keep us warm, and oil has been a mainstay for us,” she said in defending her support for ANWR drilling. “We’ve provided it to the country and that has allowed for jobs and revenues, it has allowed for schools and roads and institutions that everybody else around the country enjoys.”
Storm the floor: On Wednesday evening, members of both parties from the House Climate Solutions Caucus took to the floor to make their case for climate action and to build support for the expanding bipartisan club. Here are some GOP highlights (h/t to Citizens Climate Lobby for live tweeting the floor while your fearless author cooked dinner and policed teenagers doing homework):
The next speaker is Climate #SolutionsCaucus member @RepBrianFitz (R-PA). “I’ve always been captivated by our wild spaces.” #climatechange pic.twitter.com/tObcDv3b3d
CitizensClimateLobby (@citizensclimate) November 2, 2017
Fitzpatrick continued: “The Climate Solutions Caucus will continue to show Washington how we can come together as Americans to get this done.”
Faso reported: “I’m currently working with my Ag Committee colleagues on conservation for the next Farm Bill… our work is far from over. We must address the impacts of manmade climate change.”
Curbelo had much to say:
- “It’s the men and women who are willing to sit at the table and have a sober conversation who will solve this problem.”
- “The Climate Solutions Caucus is not about blaming people, it’s not about pointing the finger: it’s about solutions.”
- The bottom line, he said, is to work together to block bad legislation, draft bipartisan climate legislation.
- “We’re going to provide opportunities for American innovation and growth. Good, high paying jobs.”
- “We should not shy away. We should rise to the occasion.”
- “We have led the world for the last couple centurieswe can also do it on this climate issue.”
Three cheers for the caucus members and all who spoke (click link for video of all the statements). Next stop, convert words into action! And when you convert those words to action, join us or contact us and let us share the news!