Darrell Berkheimer: A bit of good news from the GOP in Congress
In recent months, it seems like a I get a rare opportunity to write about any good news out of our nation’s capital. The good news that draws my attention seems to be mainly local — and mostly nonpolitical.
But an NBC News article a couple weeks ago by Allan Smith, about a substantial group of Republicans in Congress, caught my attention as absolutely good news.
Smith’s good news report cites an influential group of Republicans — a group that’s growing in number — who, in Smith’s words, have become “increasingly willing to say those four little words: ‘Climate change is real.’’’
Smith particularly cites six GOP members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including ranking member Greg Walden of Oregon. The others are Billy Long of Missouri, Bill Flores of Texas, Buddy Carter of Georgia, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, and John Shimkus of Illinois, the ranking member of the Environment and Climate Change subcommittee.
Smith reported those six, plus a few others, are “warning the rest of their party that Republicans must push for alternative solutions (to the Green New Deal) before it’s too late.”
Obviously, a number of Republicans are seeing the handwriting on the wall as a result of several polls and surveys that show the majority of Americans are quite concerned about what the global reliance on fossil fuels is doing to our planet.
Smith specifically cites an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released March 4. That survey revealed that “63 percent of adults felt that the GOP’s positions on climate change were outside the mainstream, compared to 54 percent who said so when asked in October of 2015.”
I also noted another poll conducted in Iowa back in September. In it, 500 Iowa caucus goers were asked what qualities they are looking for in a presidential candidate. And the quality that scored the highest was “someone who will establish America’s leadership in the fight against climate change.”
And I’m sure Republicans have noted the concerns of our youngest voters – the millennial generation. For three years in a row —2015 through 2017 — millennials identified climate change as their number one concern in the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Survey. And I have no doubt that climate change again will lead the list when the results of the 2018 survey are released.
Apparently such survey results have caught the attention of Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Florida. He told NBC News that Republicans “got to look at where the young people are, where the suburban people are, much more pro anti-climate change measures than Republican leadership …”
Rooney added, “And at some point, they’re going to realize that if you can’t reach enough people, you can’t win. That’s a math issue.”
Smith’s NBC story also reported that “Rooney worked with Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Florida, to reintroduce carbon tax legislation earlier this year in the hopes of driving conversation about climate policy, and have more people ‘realize that Republicans are interested in the environment.’”
Of course, a major reason Republicans have been reluctant to acknowledge the climate change dangers is the resultant necessity to close fossil-fuel power plants and coal mines that have employed large numbers of rural workers in several states. But some of those plants are being closed anyway because they can’t compete with the declining costs of power provided by wind, solar and, especially, natural gas.
Proponents of those cleaner forms of energy, however, are touting the opportunities offered by the different jobs that they are creating. Among those proponents are the Sierra Club and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, who recently joined the long list of candidates seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
The Sierra Club last year issued a film titled “Rediscovering Power,” which cited various jobs being created as a result of advances in wind and solar power. The film reports on innovative efforts and the creation of new energy jobs in such places at Block Island, Rhode Island; Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Lame Deer, Montana; Gratiot County, Michigan; Austin, Texas; Golden, Colorado; Pasquotank and Perquimans counties, North Carolina; St. Louis, Missouri, and Lancaster, California.
Inslee, in announcing his candidacy, is betting his leadership in citing climate change as the number one issue will propel him to the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
An article in The Atlantic, written by Edward-Issac Dovere, notes “Inslee is the only one who has actually run a government that has made climate-change policy central” to his decisions. It cites Inslee’s reports on “towns in Washington that have become solar-cell farms,” and his “plan to expand the use of electric ferries.”
Dovere reported Inslee plans to “propose a mix of government investments and incentives to spur other investment, plus restrictions on power plants and emissions, and programs to promote R&D and job growth. An endless number of jobs can be created in the climate arena,” Inslee said.
Although Inslee is making climate change his main issue, Dovere also cited the governor’s successes in boosting health care, “increased access to early-childhood education and college, raised minimum wage, expanded paid family leave,” plus investments in infrastructure.
I’m not ready to say that Inslee is the best candidate, but it appears the Republicans named above, and many other national officials, may be drifting toward agreeing with Inslee that climate change could become the number one election issue by next year.
Perhaps it should be — because we don’t have a right to gamble on what kind of planet were going to leave for our unborn grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of six books available through Amazon. His latest, Essays from The Golden Throne, also is available at Book Seller in Grass Valley. Contact him at email@example.com.
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