Weary Of Climate Change Deniers, Republicans Launch Their Own Initiative

By Rebecca Leber and Joe Romm, Climate Progress

Former GOP Rep. Bob Inglis is “urging conservatives to stop denying that humans are contributing to global warming.”

"Conservatives have the answer to our energy and climate challenge," he says in a statement. "It’s about correcting market distortions and setting the economics right. We need to stop retreating in denial and start stepping forward in the competition of ideas."

Inglis, a South Carolina Republican beaten by the Tea Party in 2010, is launching the “Energy and Enterprise Initiative” at George Mason University to push “conservative solutions to America’s energy and climate challenges.”

The National Journal (subscription required) reports:

"The campaign will push one policy: a new tax on carbon pollution or gasoline consumption, paired with a cut in the income or payroll tax, creating a revenue-neutral, market-driven solution to an environmental problem while cutting taxes that conservatives dislike."

In short, the party of monolithic knee-jerk climate denial turns out to be bilithic. Okay, technically, a bilith is “a prehistoric monument composed of two stones usually constituting a pillar capped by a slab.”

And it’s true that the national GOP is now prehistoric when it comes to climate science (see National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”).

Head in Sand

But as recently as 2008, climate change was not a hyper-politicized issue — the presidential candidates’ position on climate science was a nonissue since both agreed on the science. Republicans today, however, have become synonymous with climate denialism, staying silent as the country bears the hottest 12 months on record.

But we at Climate Progress prefer to see the glass as 1/10 full rather than 9/10 empty — or, if you prefer a more optimistic spin, a glass that’s completely full (but mostly with air). After all, this new initiative isn’t just Inglis:

"On its own, Inglis’s voice might not be enough to change the Republican conversation about climate change. But he has the support of Gregory Mankiw, economic advisor to the Mitt Romney campaign and the former chief economist of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the influential conservative think tank American Action Forum, former head of Bush’s Council on Economic Advisers, and economic adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign; Art Laffer, the prominent conservative economist and former senior adviser to President Reagan; and George Shultz, Reagan’s secretary of State, along with a slew of other conservative economic thinkers."

We have previously noted that "Bipartisan Support Grows for Carbon Price as Part of Debt Deal." And not only has Americans’ understanding of global warming rebounded to 2009 levels and say they’ve been personally affected, but an April poll found that “75% of Americans Support Regulating CO2 As A Pollutant, 60% Support Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax.” And that means a lot of non-Tea Party Republicans support serious climate action.

Indeed, Inglis said in an interview with Grist’s David Roberts, that he believes there are conservatives “in foxholes on this hill,” who are remaining silent in order to avoid the Tea Party’s fire. In the short-term any climate legislation is near impossible, and Inglis looks to 2015 or 2016 for policy change.

Although Romney’s economic adviser supports the campaign, the candidate falls into the latter category Inglis describes, where “attacking the science is an easier way to dispense with the question” of how to change behavior. A Romney administration would make 2015 look far-fetched. But if there is an Obama second term, a carbon price could be considered much sooner, whenever there is a debt deal or tax reform package.


REBECCA LEBER is a research assistant for the ThinkProgress war room. JOE ROMM is a Fellow at American Progress and is the editor of Climate Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/

Here’s the Energy and Enterprise Initiative website:

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Comments on “Weary Of Climate Change Deniers, Republicans Launch Their Own Initiative”

  1. huon

    Some Tea Party supporters, such as myself, will back this initiative 100%. I was against cap-and-trade as too intrusive, too bureaucratic and too costly. But a moderate carbon tax, with the revenue used to lower income taxes, makes perfect sense.

  2. hatrack

    Aw, how cute!

    A former GOP Congressman (who lost his primary to the Tea Party and is consequently out of power) is urging Republicans to recognize reality. How bold, Mr. Inglis! How commendable!

    And who will assist him in the biggest windmill-tilt since Cervantes? Why, long-retired former Secy. Schultz, 90 if he’s a day; long-retired economist Art Laffer, also deep in dotage; the economic advisor to John McCain’s losing campaign; and, of course, Greg Mankiw, who presided over the Bush II Bubblethon and is now advising a candidate on whose website the word “environment” doesn’t even appear.

    And did I mention that this proposal will come in the form of a tax? That will certainly be well received by the Tea-Tards and other Republicans.

    Former GOP Rep. Bob Inglis is “urging conservatives to stop denying that humans are contributing to global warming.” That’s nice. Thanks, Bob. Maybe you could provide us some updates on reality of gravity or the color of the sky while you’re at it.

    Global warming is caused by human activity – yeah, no shit.


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