Top House Republicans rally behind conservative youth climate plan
Top House Republicans, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are backing a climate policy framework outlined by the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative youth climate group.
It’s the first time in recent years that Republican lawmakers have lent their support for a comprehensive climate strategy. The ACC is hoping its American Climate Contract will allow GOP lawmakers, who before the pandemic had just begun to unveil a series of low-carbon policies, to contextualize those efforts and root them in climate-focused messaging.
“Prior to this, the conversation continued to be so defined by the Green New Deal being the benchmark, and I think this is the next step,” said Quill Robinson, the ACC’s government affairs director.
The framework takes the discussions beyond whether, or not climate change exists or if people support the liberal Green New Deal, Robinson told the Washington Examiner. “This is a climate plan that you have the most powerful Republicans in the House supporting,” he added.
In total, 10 top GOP lawmakers are backing the group’s American Climate Contract, the coalition announced Monday. In addition to McCarthy, its backers include Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the top Republican on the House Energy Committee, and Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, the top Republican on the House select climate panel.
The ACC will also announce support from Republican senators in the next few weeks, Robinson said.
“As we look to rebuild our nation, I believe that we have an opportunity to do so while creating a cleaner future for all Americans,” McCarthy said in a statement.
“Conservative plans for the environment, as this contract does, understand that lasting and effective environmental progress depends on American innovation and exporting that technology around the world — not on enforcing debilitating taxes or punitive mandates,” the California congressman added.
The ACC’s policy plan, released in April, calls for the United States to advance policies that “move toward a goal of global net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.” It lays out support for four policies: investing in energy innovation, modernizing infrastructure, supporting conservation measures that store carbon, and engaging globally to reduce emissions.
The group also outlines a number of Republican-backed and bipartisan bills that fit within those areas, including legislation to incentivize energy storage, boost advanced nuclear energy, and promote carbon capture technologies.
“We have to act now if we want to unlock the solutions that will aggressively combat climate change,” said Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican who is supporting the framework, in a statement. “Through smart, technology-neutral tax incentives, we can unleash American ingenuity and encourage the kind of innovation at scale that will significantly reduce carbon emissions.”
A stated 2050 climate target has been something Republicans have been hesitant to embrace thus far, and it’s something Robinson said GOP lawmakers had questions about.
“Republicans are justifiably skeptical about that, about putting too much of the onus on the U.S.,” Robinson said. But he added the ACC has stressed with Republican lawmakers that the U.S., while it can’t address climate change alone, must take a leading role.
And while Robinson doesn’t see climate change being the top issue this election season, he said he’s hoping GOP candidates will talk about the issue on the campaign trail. Already, several GOP candidates — including Michigan’s Peter Meijer, South Carolina’s Nancy Mace, and Florida’s Maria Salazar — have embraced the ACC’s framework.
“Anybody who has a remotely purple race, this is one of those issues that’s important, and it will be a detriment to them to not have something good to say or something coherent and strong and articulate on climate change,” Robinson said.
“That’s what the American Climate Contract is, and that’s why some of these really exciting candidates who are being seen in the party as the next generation are talking about it,” he added.