House GOP to launch climate caucus

House GOP to launch climate caucus
© Greg Nash

House Republicans on Wednesday will launch a caucus aimed at educating its members about climate change. 

The effort, spearheaded by Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), won’t endorse particular policies but instead will give members information and new strategies for how to talk about the issue and possibly even change some minds on climate change. 

Curtis told The Hill in an interview on Tuesday that it took him a long time to “get my climate feet underneath me” and that he hopes to help his colleagues do the same. 

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“Early on, when I was asked in town hall meetings if the climate was changing and man was influencing it, I would not answer that question. I would dodge that question. I don’t think I knew the answer to that question,” Curtis said. 

“I didn’t really know what solutions were good solutions. I didn’t know which ones I could support,” he said. “It felt like, and I think a lot of Republicans feel this way, I had to endorse the Green New Deal if I was going to ... be part of the solution, and a lot of Republicans find that troubling.”

The creation of the caucus comes as the Republican Party has largely moved away from explicitly denying that climate change is occurring.

At the same time, Republicans are not backing measures with as significant an impact on limiting climate-warming emissions as endorsed by their Democratic counterparts and many scientists. 

As of Tuesday night, the caucus had 45 members, including the ranking members of the House Natural Resources, Energy and Commerce, and Select Climate Crisis committees: Reps. Bruce WestermanBruce Eugene WestermanInterior recommends imposing higher costs for public lands drilling Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — What a leading biologist says will save humans Democrats push for boost in wildland firefighter pay, increased mental health benefits MORE (R-Ark.), Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersLawmakers focus on bridging broadband divide highlighted amid pandemic Democrats to target Section 230 in Haugen hearing Washington redistricting panel reaches late agreement on new lines MORE (R-Wash.) and Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesBiden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — US joins pledge to end overseas fossil funding GOP lawmakers prepare for Glasgow trip MORE (R-La.), respectively. 

Curtis said that the education he hopes to achieve would be done by the members themselves and by bringing in “as many outside people as we can,” including scientists. 

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He said he thinks bipartisan solutions can include limiting greenhouse gas emissions from other major emitters around the world and supporting nuclear power. 

Asked about evaluating policies such as a carbon price or clean electricity standard that most Republicans don’t support, Curtis said, “I think everything should be on the table.”

“That doesn’t mean that I can ultimately support those things, but I think I need to be willing to talk about them,” he said.

If I want them to hear my ideas with an open mind, I think I need to listen to their ideas with an open mind,” he added.