Highlights of 2023
If you know us, you know we love a look-back, so here is a glimpse of our collective highlights on the year. Some of them were self-driven accomplishments. Some occurred externally (and we applauded from the sidelines). All contributed to progress both building our EcoRight community and advancing free market solutions to climate change.
Thank you for being part of our community!
We kicked off the year with your fearless writer getting to fulfill a dream: having the hosts of Pantsuit Politics join us for a conversation about climate change. I’ve long been fans of Sarah Stewart Holland (pictured left) and Beth Silvers (pictured right) and enjoyed their insights on how the climate conversation gets sticky and also how to get around that stickiness.
ICYMI: Pantsuit Politics webinar
Every month, our engagement director, Angela Larck, sends a poll to our EcoRight community. The Wild Weather Poll she conducted in February 2023 is one of her favorites of the year and I have to agree. I don’t know if you remember, but last February’s weather was wacky. And while not all extreme weather is climate change, extreme weather incidents are increasing in frequency and severity due to climate-induced atmospheric changes. The silver lining: when people experience something first hand, they are more open to exploring solutions to keep it from happening again.
On that note, let’s do this!
Who doesn’t love NPR’s News Quiz Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me? It’s a classic, celebrating 25 years of laughs and games based on the week’s news. In March, we created our own #EcoRight News version featuring climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, one of our own EcoRight Speaks podcast episodes, and another popular news piece circulating in March claiming climate “doomers” are now replacing climate deniers.
Here’s an example of one of our questions:
1) Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe was quoted saying, “It is absolutely essential to communicate in terms and language that people understand.” What was she referring to?
- The exclusion of Fahrenheit in scientific reports.
- The lack of climate reports translated into Chinese languages.
- Wanting climate change education ads shown on screens during airplane flights.
Curious about the rest of the questions? Take the quiz yourself here!
In April, we were happy to see a thriving collaboration between a coalition of center and right of center Montanans, writing multiple LTEs and op-eds for small Montana papers. (So small, they don’t all have an online presence… if you’re from a small town, you know the type of paper I mean. And you know EVERYONE reads them.) This cooperation between volunteers from republicEn.org, American Conservation Coalition, and Citizens Climate Lobby is a model we’d like to see replicated in other areas where growing conservative voices calling for climate action can be a real game changer.
Do you have people in your network to collaborate with on a similar project? Let’s talk in 2024.
We are always eager to see prominent Republican leaders make strong climate statements, so this one by former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) made our day. (Yes, we are trying to get him on the EcoRight Speaks… I haven’t given up on this for 2024.) At a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee, he had this to say:
“I am appearing before you today drawing on three distinct experiences. First, as a heart and lung transplant surgeon who has been fortunate to travel across the United States and around the world. I have seen firsthand the detrimental effects climate change is having, and will have, on people, their communities, and nations. Yes, climate change is an environmental crisis, but it’s also a public health crisis, a food crisis, and a threat to our economic security.”
“Second, as a former Senate Majority Leader and a former member of this committee from 1995-2002, I am intimately aware of how a stable federal budget is critical to the fiscal health of our economy and national security. Climate change is an economic issue. It affects individuals, families, and businesses of all sizes. The fallout from climate change – from increased droughts and flooding to hotter temperatures to rising sea levels – cost the United States billions of dollars every year.”
Frist serves as the chair of the Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy, a conservation organization with over 900 scientists and science staff across 79 countries and territories.
We were thrilled to see Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) team up with Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) to take the first steps toward a border carbon adjustment. In June, they introduced a bill, the Providing Reliable, Objective, Verifiable Emissions Intensity and Transparency (PROVE IT) Act of 2023, which would require the Department of Energy to study the emissions intensity of U.S. products such as aluminum, cement, crude oil, fertilizer, iron, steel and plastic. This data would lay the groundwork for a future border carbon adjustment.
“It’s easier to take a second step once you’ve taken a first step,” Cramer said. “It can create a little momentum, but at the very least it creates a baseline from which to work, and it gets people thinking about it in a different context.”
A link to the PROVE IT Act can be found here.
July was a fruitful month for our EcoRight Leadership Council member Mary Anna Mancuso, who was published in The Invading Sea with two pieces, Partisan Divide Over Climate Change is Narrowing in Florida (syndicated in The Orlando Sentinel) and With Climate Change No Longer Easy to Dismiss, Florida Has Opportunity To Do Things Differently (syndicated in the Fort Myers News-Press and the Naples Daily News). She was also published in Real Clear Energy with Climate Change: Get Your Snorkel Ready.
Mary Anna had an astonishing 25 unique op-eds published in 2023, a number of which were syndicated by other media outlets! Congrats, Mary Anna, and thanks for giving a voice to the EcoRight.
In August, we premiered SEASON SEVEN of the EcoRight Speaks! We were thrilled to bring some new voices to the show and even hit our 125th episode, amid higher download rates and increased listenership. American Action Forum’s Doug Holtz-Eakin kicked things off for us, followed by episodes featuring American Conservation Coalition’s CEO Danielle Butcher Franz, Utah Federation of College Republicans chair Ryan Smith, and our Reaction from the first GOP Presidential primary debate. Following up on the debate theme, Mary Anna was again published, this time in the Hill with an op-ed, Rating the GOP candidates on the climate debate.
(Fun podcast fact: we also hit our 125th episode in June this year.)
On September 27, we hosted our most robust webinar to date after our infamous session with actor Jeff Bridges back in 2020. Registrants received an exclusive watch code for the film Nuclear Now and were invited to join expert Shannon Bragg-Sitton, who stars in the film, for an in-depth discussion of nuclear power and its use as a means to help combat climate change. In total, we distributed 128 watch codes and had 81 participants for the discussion.
ICYMI, you can watch the webinar here.
Bob Inglis knows a thing or two about the House of Representatives. In October we were thrilled to see his piece, My Fellow Republicans, It’s Time To Grow Up, featured in the New York Times. (Fun fact, it was the first time Bob was featured in the NYT with a solo op-ed.)
“I was once a member of Congress who needed to grow up, too,” he writes of his first six years in Congress, when he was a climate disputer. “I said and did small things. On climate change, for example: Al Gore was for addressing it, so I was against it. Small.”
“I realize now that the fight wasn’t against Al Gore; it was against climate change.”
Read the rest of the piece to find out more on his evolution—and the lesson he hopes to impart.
Looking externally, Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, joined by fellow Republican Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, introduced the Foreign Pollution Fee Act of 2023. The Cassidy bill would hold higher carbon emitting countries accountable and shrink the carbon loophole by imposing a fee on products imported from high greenhouse gas-emitting countries. Such policy would help protect carbon efficient U.S. manufacturers hurt by competition from China and other countries with less stringent environmental standards.Calling his bill “Republican climate policy,” Senator Cassidy explained that “with the foreign pollution fee, we’re attempting to level the playing field to say, ‘OK, China, if you choose not to enforce environmental regulations, we’re going to levy a fee to compensate our country.’”
Spoiler: this bill is a BIG DEAL and we will have our eyes on it next year!
Bob attended the Mint Growers Association conference in Yakima, WA, represented in Congress by Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican who is himself a farmer and whose district abuts that of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The trip was one of his best this year.
The one-day conference was mostly about growing, researching, and marketing mint. Bob’s climate presentation appeared to be a case of first consideration by many of the 50 farmers present asking robust questions such as “is climate change really that bad?” (Yes, but we’re pretty sure that fellow conservatives have heard plenty about how bad it is. They need to hear the hope that we can fix it.) and “isn’t fixing it going to bankrupt the country?” (No, there’s money to be made and wealth to be created in this energy transition.) “Aren’t American products generally cleaner than stuff made in other countries?” (Yes, and it’s a good reason to be excited about carbon border adjustment mechanisms.)
Bob’s reflection: “I was interacting with Newhouse and McMorris Rodgers’ constituents, many of whom were new to the case for free enterprise action on climate change. It was fertile territory. I just wish that this Easterner had gotten the memo about flannel being the style of the day!”
And a partridge in a pear tree….
On behalf of the entire team, I wish you happy holidays! We look forward to continued work with you next year!