On Wednesday, a group of seventeen Republican members of the US House signed a resolution asking Congress to take climate change seriously. Republican Representatives Elisa Stefanik (NY), Ryan Costello (PA), and Carlos Curbelo (FL) introduced the legislation, with an additional fourteen Republicans co-signing. While the resolution, “Expressing the commitment of the House of Representatives to conservative environmental stewardship,” is non-binding, it shows that the issue of climate change is a truly non-partisan issue.
Rep. Curbelo says that his constituents are already seeing the effects of climate change, “from chronic flooding to coral bleaching to threats to our freshwater supply in the Everglades.” In the press release announcing the bill, Curbelo said that the changing climate should not be a partisan issue and that, “every Member of Congress has a responsibility to our constituents and future generations to support market-based solutions, investments, and innovations that could alleviate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient.”
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
While President Trump has called climate change a hoax and officials like Scott Pruitt have challenged the validity of climate science, a growing number of Republicans have called for increased measures to protect the environment. The resolution itself says that, “it is a conservative principle to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment, responsibly plan for all market factors, and base our policy decisions in science and quantifiable facts on the ground.”
The resolution has drawn praise from many climate-interested organizations. Ken Kimmell, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists says:
“I’m heartened to see Republican House members introduce a resolution committing Congress to address climate change and base its policy decisions on science and quantifiable facts. While the resolution doesn’t explicitly make the link to fossil fuel emissions, it shows that these Republican lawmakers are not in a state of denial about this key issue. The U.S. is seeing more extreme weather due to climate change, including flooding, droughts and wildfires, which cost taxpayers billions of dollars in damages. There’s strength in numbers, and I hope that this sizable group of responsible leaders will have an impact on votes in Congress.”
But other environmental groups remain skeptical. Melinda Pierce the legislative director for the Sierra Club said that she will look for tangible action before applauding the resolution.
“We’ve seen that many of the Republicans sponsoring this resolution have voted against climate action in the past, so their real commitment will be measured by how they vote on legislation that undermines climate progress or promotes fossil fuel projects moving forward,” she told Reuters.
While the move is welcome by some, these Republicans lawmakers may still face the wrath of the voters who put them in office. Reuters notes that, “[a] similar resolution was introduced by Republicans in the previous Congress, with 17 signing. Some of those lawmakers lost their re-election bids.” The issue of climate change is still viewed differently along party lines. A Pew study found that only 15 percent of conservative Republicans believe that climate scientists can be trusted to give full and accurate info on the causes of climate change.