Conservatives work for common ground on climate
By Rob Beggs, Chair, CCL Conservative Caucus; Peter Bryn, CCL’s Conservative Director; Jim Tolbert, Liberty Caucus Coordinator, CCL Conservative Caucus
At face value, Tuesday’s election outcome looks like a big setback for our cause. But it’s out of adversity that opportunities can arise. CCL’s Conservative Caucus has been tasked with lobbying the new administration, and we are eager to build a relationship with President-elect Trump’s team.
Indeed, the importance of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, our approach, and our policy proposal has never been greater. Where some might throw up their hands, CCLers seek opportunity. Where some see a lost cause, CCLers request a meeting—and find common ground.
As the dust settles, let’s consider some of the maybe not-so-obvious implications of the election:
- Trump’s views have shaken up Republican orthodoxy, which was already challenged with the varying views within the party—social conservatives, modern-day Rockefeller Republicans, young Republicans, the liberty movement, “the establishment,” Tea Party, etc. This evaluation of “what does it mean to be a Republican?” presents an opportunity for more individual Republicans to proudly support climate action as the party’s platform evolves.
- CCL’s proposal, or something similar, is now probably the best and, perhaps, only path forward. The future of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is very much in question, and cap and trade appears to remain politically impossible. Yet, most of the populace still wants action on CO2, and we have heard from Republican lawmakers on many occasions that our policy proposal is “the best of any climate policy I’ve seen.”
- Trump’s campaign was all about jobs—supporting anything that creates them, and opposing anything that challenges them. In that sense, we don’t interpret President-elect Trump as being overly dogmatic about climate change. Instead, his major objection is the perception that regulations are bad for jobs and put U.S. businesses at a disadvantage to competitors in China and elsewhere. As CCLers, we know well that Carbon Fee and Dividend has a strong case to address both of these concerns.
- Trump is likely to listen to business leaders, and we are making strides with major businesses.
- Our proposal would spur large, job-intensive investments to update our energy infrastructure—such as in electric power system upgrades, carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear, wind, solar, and batteries.
- Republicans, now with control of both houses and the presidency, are motivated to get legislation passed. However, Republicans need 60 votes to move legislation through the Senate, meaning Senate Democrats still have a lot of leverage—in fact more than before the election. If our proposal is high on the wish list for Senate Dems, it stands a good chance of getting into the mix of whatever deals get cut.
Solidifying support for our proposal among Democrats, other green groups, and businesses is probably more critical and valuable now than it has ever been. But so is engaging conservative friends and family, and recruiting them into CCL (and CCL’s Conservative Caucus).
Now is the time to re-commit to speaking out and pushing for a climate deal to be one of President Trump’s crowning achievements. If that feels naive, recall when Ronald Reagan appointed Anne Gorsuch as the Administrator of the EPA and James Watt as the Secretary of the Interior—both known for statements against many environmental causes. Yet it was Ronald Reagan who later negotiated and signed the Montreal Protocol to phase out the use and production of chemicals that break down stratospheric ozone. This remains the most significant successful treaty focused on global atmospheric chemistry.
The Conservative Caucus is ready to do our part to support Mark’s promise to pass legislation in 2017. Your efforts as a CCL volunteer became intensely more important last Tuesday. We’re ready to get this done – are you?