More than 60 Republican members of Congress recently launched the Conservative Climate Caucus to provide leadership in America’s fight against climate change. All Americans who care about our country and our planet should welcome this development.
Conservatives tackling environmental challenges is in no way new. President Teddy Roosevelt established our national park system, the crown jewel of America’s natural resources, more than a century ago.
And from the Nixon administration’s founding of the Environmental Protection Agency to conservative lawmakers championing the bipartisan Energy Act of 2020, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump, Republicans have always made significant contributions to preserving our natural world for future generations.
Republicans are, and have been, great stewards of the Earth, and we need to make sure the world knows it.
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But in the hyper-partisan world of climate change policy, these facts are too easily forgotten. As a result, we need to find new ways to spread this message of economic prosperity, energy choice and a cleaner environment.
Fundamentally, the conservative approach is can-do and optimistic. Conservatives do not accept a false choice between American prosperity and a healthy planet. We do not believe that more government bureaucracy ever solved anything as complex as climate, and we have data to prove it. And we do not understand how any effort that compromises America’s national security or our economic base could possibly be the best path to reduce emissions.
Quite simply, we are committed to efforts that will reduce America’s emissions, not our economy; cut energy prices, not energy choices; and export American innovation, not American jobs.
Republicans may not have all the answers on our own, but we have excellent ideas. It’s high time for us to share them and for Democrats to work with us on meaningful policy that can have a positive impact instead of writing each other off as the villains.
Caucus is a forum for learning
With this caucus, lawmakers now have a place to come together and learn about energy and environmental issues from each other, from their constituents, and from top experts in the field without having to worry about hidden political motives or partisan hubris.
As more Republicans engage on the topic, they’ll breathe new life into ideas designed to reduce pollution without putting people out of work, leverage natural solutions to lower emissions, and create pathways for all Americans – especially those closest to the environment, such as our farmers and ranchers – in the fight against climate change.
This acceleration of ideas and engagement was demonstrated by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s announcement of dozens of Republican-sponsored climate bills during Earth Week this year.
The threat of climate change is real, but so is the threat that our adversaries will exploit any economic harm America self-inflicts for environmental showmanship.
Restrictive, expensive government mandates like the Green New Deal will only compound the problem. We know that the 85% of the world’s emissions that are not generated in America will continue to rise unabated unless we develop affordable, readily adoptable carbon-reducing technologies that work as well for India as they do for Indiana.
U.S. innovation can help the world
The developing world will not sacrifice basic access to cheap energy just because an American or European politician says so. American should bring the cleanest energy in the world to these countries, as opposed to letting them become reliant on our foreign adversaries for more carbon intensive resources.
The Conservative Climate Caucus will be dedicated to American innovation, to advancing private sector leadership on climate mitigation, to building up our resiliency, and to leveraging competitive markets to develop and export the best solutions at the lowest cost, naturally.
It will applaud America’s private sector companies as they set and achieve carbon-reduction commitments, which they are doing at a faster pace than any government command could accomplish.
The climate is changing, and there’s no doubt the industrial era that brought so much peace and prosperity to the world has contributed to that change. This caucus will focus on keeping the prosperity while cutting global emissions, and it will help facilitate America’s return to our Republican conservationist roots.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Health, Communications & Technology and the Environment & Climate Change subcommittees. Heather Reams is executive director for Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How conservatives can fight climate change and protect our economy