A Few House Republicans Hold a Climate Change Confab

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

Representative John Curtis of Utah hosted a meeting last weekend for a small clutch of House Republicans in Salt Lake City, Utah, to discuss how to revamp their party’s climate change proposals to compete with Democrats and the Biden administration. Outside organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, American Conservation Coalition, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, and the Alliance for Market Solutions participated in various panel discussions. Representatives Garret Graves, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Frank Lewis were some of the 25 who attended, according to the Washington Examiner.

Why this Matters:  Polls show that the Republican Party is losing popularity among young and suburban voters that are concerned about the environment and climate change. The attendees at the Utah meeting seemed to coalesce around proposals that focus on clean energy innovations, like carbon capture for fossil fuel plants and new nuclear reactors. As Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration are expected to try to move a massive infrastructure bill that involves investments in clean energy and carbon taxes, some Republicans are likely to respond with legislation focused on market-based solutions and technology.  Bring it on!

Republicans on Conservation

The recent meeting is evidence that some Republicans may believe the party needs to change its tune on climate change — that climate change denial may not be part of the Republican Party’s strategy for much longer.  Republicans from various relevant committees attended the conference: Reps. Frank Lucas of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Glenn Thompson of the Agriculture Committee, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Jason Smith of the Budget Committee.  Rep. Garret Graves, the top Republican on the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, and Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia, a coal state member who has previously introduced carbon reduction legislation, were also there. Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who had introduced carbon tax legislation, moderated one of the conference’s panels.

Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, another attendee, told E&E News yesterday: “Unlike some of the policies that we’re seeing come out of the Biden administration and from Democrats on the Hill, we think that we can pose a strategy that’s good for the environment and for the economy.” He suggested Republicans should “reclaim the narrative” from Democrats who he said view fighting climate change as largely about reducing carbon emissions, emphasizing that “conservatives who came up with conservation.”  “This is not just something Republicans are going to give lip service to,” Westerman said to the Washington Examiner.

Rep. John Curtis of Utah, who organized the event, echoed the sentiment last year: ”I regret that many of my Republican colleagues still run from this issue. And I think that’s just unfortunate. I think we need to own it. We need to go on the offensive.”

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