Climate Week En Review, March 29, 2019
Happy Friday! I'm pleased to report Mercury is no longer in retrograde and baseball season has officially kicked off, but sadly my bracket is destroyed. No time to dwell, too much to report.
This week's must read: Florida's most pro-environment Republican (The Miami Herald) We didn't think we could love Rep. Francis Rooney any more than we already do, but then we read this article. "I'm kind of a lone wolf on this from a conservative district," Rooney said in an interview at his Capitol Hill office. "I'm certainly not doing it for politics. In fact I may be doing it against politics."
Green New Deal meets Senate floor: The Senate had a vote on the Green New Deal, which failed 0-57 with no Senators voting for it and 43 Democrats (including its primary sponsor) voting present. While the plan was never expected to pass, it has sparked a discussion and activated new (and old) climate champions."If we're going to address [climate change] in a meaningful way, it must be bipartisan, it must be enduring," Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a Senate floor speech on the day of the vote. "The problem with the Green New Deal is that it unifies Republicans," our spokesperson Joe Pinion told the New York Times. "From your never-Trumpers to your Trump skeptics to your Trumportunists, all of these individuals are united in the idea that the policies of a Green New Deal would be disastrous for America."
But new ideas are coming forward. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who has long advocated a sector-by-sector approach to climate change, is putting forth a "Manhattan Project for Clean Energy." His plan would include measures such as increased energy research funding, advanced nuclear energy deployment, improved battery technology, and greener buildings, in all ten "grand challenges" to help create cheap and clean sources of energy. "To provide the tools to create these breakthroughs, the federal government should double its funding for energy research and keep the United States number one in the world in advanced computing," he said. "You don't have to believe humans cause climate change to believe in the New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy, and you don't have to be a Republican."
According to a statement, Alexander's goal is to "raise family incomes at home, strengthen our economy and show the rest of the world how to reduce carbon emissions -- because the rest of the world is where the carbon emissions problem has to be solved...If we want to do something about climate change, we should use American research and technology to provide the rest of the world with tools to create low cost energy that emits fewer greenhouse gases." See more below!
We're with you: A Pew Research Center survey shows that 79 percent of adults aged 18–29 are very or fairly worried about climate change when they think about the future of the country. That's compared to 69 percent for adults as a whole. (h/t Axios)
The Elise Stefanik Fan Club: "I have one of the most independent records when it comes to the Republican Party and climate change," Rep. Elise Stefanik said this week. "I have been a leading voice in bipartisan climate change solutions, supporting renewable energy, whether that's solar, wind or biomass. I have been a proponent in terms of making sure that from a national security perspective we understand that climate change is a threat… I am a believer that we need to come together in a bipartisan solution." (Cue: applause from the EcoRight.)
Climate Action Club: Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who as governor of Massachusetts oversaw enactment of that state's initial climate change plan, is quietly assembling a small group of GOP senators to shift the narrative on climate change and come forward with a legislative option Republicans can support. "There's no question that we're experiencing climate change and that humans are a significant contributor to that," Romney told The Hill. "In my view, the course forward is going to require innovation and technology breakthrough because nothing I've seen is going to reverse the warming trend other than that." Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) are part of the conversation. "We've spoken about some ideas as to how we might encourage that," Romney said of his GOP colleagues. "I've talked to Romney," Graham confirmed, calling the Green New Deal a "kind of a ridiculous proposal," but acknowledging that "denying the problem is equally as bad."
"Romney had the best line of anybody: 'We better hope it's man-made, because if it's not we're in trouble,'" Graham said. "That would be my approach, for the party to acknowledge that climate change is a problem."
Green Real Deal: In an interview with Vice, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz called for "a marketplace of ideas" in response to the "not realistic" Green New Deal. "Critics of the Green New Deal like myself should be challenged to present a 'Green Real Deal,' he said. "You know, a plan that embraces the innovation opportunity in our country that's realistic about the challenges we face globally and then leans hard into the science of clean energy. And I've had some very productive conversations with Republican and Democrat colleagues about what bills have been introduced in the last congress and in this Congress that would constitute a Green Real Deal. And it's my hope that Republicans will be out there in the marketplace of ideas with a plan we can stand behind."
"I mean we can believe the climate deniers or we can believe our eyes," he says of Republicans who dispute the climate is changing due to human activity. "Climate change isn't something people get to choose to believe or not, it's happening." Gaetz is working on legislation to go with his idea.
Climate front and center: Former Bush EPA Administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman noted that climate change will be a big part of the upcoming election. "Well, there are a number of Republicans that actually believe that the climate is changing — and humans have something to do with it. There's a caucus within the Congress with Republicans who believe that. And frankly, right now, you're getting more and more attention to it. Which is a great thing. I think this will be our first national election that I can remember where climate change, and environmental issues, will be a major part of the campaign. Clearly, climate change will be that, because we've got so many people talking about it and committed to it."
Whether your weekend includes baseball (me), basketball (why bother?), gardening (I should), or recharging, I wish you well.