By Laura Barron-Lopez - 08/15/14 03:00 PM EDT
The political arm of the Environmental Defense Fund is launching a seven-figure campaign push to align itself more with Republicans.
Yes, that's right, Republicans.
It's a far cry from the current campaigns led by other big environmental groups including billionaire Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, which have tilted heavily toward Democrats.
It's also an attempt to lay the ground work for a longer-term effort that will bring Republicans and Democrats closer together on issues like climate change, which have proved extremely divisive in recent years.
"To make progress at the national level we need to reengage the GOP leadership," said Tony Kreindler, senior director for strategic communications with the fund.
Kriendler stressed the importance of having Republicans on board with clean-energy and climate-change issues, or else, he said, nothing meaningful will move in Congress.
A "critical component" to building that kind of atmosphere in Congress that will lead to real discussions on policy issues is "to rebuild the trust that has been lost between conservatives and the environmental community," Kriendler said.
"There is very little upside for a conservative or someone in the GOP to be a leader on environmental issues because they get attacked from left and right. We are trying to rebuild trust and provide a platform of support for them for when they want to engage," he said.
The green group started making the push a couple of weeks ago during Michigan and Kansas primary races.
On Thursday, the action fund launched its first $250,000 package throwing support behind a congressional Republican.
The move reveals the action fund isn't just all bark when it comes to its pledge to pick Republicans over Democrats where warranted.
Thursday's ad buy backs Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) for "fighting to stop climate change" and working to lower energy costs.
The group has yet to name the other Republicans it will throw its political muscle behind for 2014. Kriendler said decisions are still being made.
Although the environmental group is likely to draw attention over its new campaign, Kriendler said it isn't about a Republican versus Democrat dynamic.
Instead, Kriendler said, they are looking for those who have the potential to be a leader in their party and bring others to the table on the key issues.