Castle said Republicans further removed from coastal regions express more skepticism about climate change, as they are not exposed to rising sea levels.
But this past summer’s record drought, wildfires in the West and record-high temperatures hit many of the regions those lawmakers represent, Castle said. That, combined with superstorm Sandy devastating the densely populated East Coast, might push Republicans to change their minds on climate change, he said.
Castle said those examples “are factors that may start to change some of the thinking of some of the Republicans in the Congress.”
Castle was a casualty of the GOP’s recent rightward shift. He said his support of cap-and-trade legislation in 2009 cost him the 2010 GOP primary in the special Senate election to replace Vice President Biden.
Tea Party-favored Christine O’Donnell won that primary. She then lost to Democrat Chris CoonsChris CoonsA Vandenberg movement in Congress Senate approves Trump's Agriculture chief How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle MORE by more than 16 percentage points.
Labeling himself a centrist Republican, Castle said many current GOP lawmakers use climate science denial as a political crutch.
“It may be that people are for example opposed — people being conservative Republicans — to cap-and-trade because of the cost aspects of it. It’s not just the science of it, but the science is an excuse,” he said.