Last week, you probably read this opinion piece our spokesperson Tyler Gillette got published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer calling on Senator Rob Portman to apply his thoughtful negotiation skills to climate change solutions. He subsequently posted this piece on Civics Nation. We had a chance to virtually sit down with this senior at Miami University and wanted to share what we learned about this up and coming leader in the EcoRight movement.

Why Senator Portman:

I chose to focus the Cleveland Plain Dealer piece on Portman because he is the Republican senator of Ohio, which made him an influential person in to target. The other person I would write a piece on is Gov. John Kasich, my favorite lawmaker, but he is already more actively on board with addressing climate change than Portman. Frankly, as I wrote in the essay, Portman has supported some great environmental measures in the past, but to get with the present he needs to step up his game on the environment. He has championed and voted for bills supporting climate change but he can do so much more, especially with his willingness to work bipartisanly. He is capable of bridging a real divide between red and blue, manufacturing state and “the coasts,” like he did with the energy efficiency bills he wrote with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire.

It looks like you’ve had some healthy Twitter debate over your piece. How do you respond to people who say you can’t be concerned about the climate and be politically conservative?

Well, I first try to point out my scientific background. I have to support the scientific evidence of climate change no matter what my political party is. I also try to explain potential solutions, one of which I try to stress is a carbon tax since you can deregulate while also reducing emissions. This is a solution that most conservatives could get behind. I also try to stress my views on the environment and small government. I try to talk more about environmental stewardship. I also try to get people to break this dumb habit of generalizing all conservatives as far-right people. I stress the fact that you can support the environment and be a conservative.

What’s next for you once school is done?

As of right now, I am applying to jobs, but haven’t accepted one yet. I have applied to jobs across Ohio, along with a few jobs in Indiana and Kentucky. I hope to work in the field of conservation, fish and wildlife management, or environmental science. I am also waiting to hear from Miami University’s Advanced Inquiry Program, that I applied to in order to get my Master’s in Biology online with some hands-on and face to face experience at any of the zoos in the program. I will also continue to be an active member of republicEn. I hope to get Bob to make a visit to Miami’s campus or make an event here with our College Republicans club and other conservative clubs, along with professors who study climate change.

Three cheers for Tyler! (And if you know of the perfect job for him, let us know…)