Op-ed by four former Republican EPA chiefs still won't be enough to break through modern GOP's climate of denial...
By D.R. Tucker on 8/4/2013, 7:35pm PT  

There is no such thing as a Republican politician who reads the New York Times.

That's the obvious takeaway from the events of August 2, as the GOP-controlled House cast a symbolic vote against the concept of a carbon tax just hours after the Times published an op-ed written by Republican-appointed former EPA administrators William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman calling for such a tax, and otherwise for the GOP to join President Obama in taking aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions before it's too late.

One wonders why Ruckelshaus (the very first head of the EPA, as appointed by leftist EPA creator President Richard Nixon), Thomas, Reilly and Whitman even bothered to write this op-ed. After all, they are calling upon Republicans to embrace policy.

Has it not been finally proven that the Republican Party --- the party I belonged to for fifteen years --- no longer cares about policy? And, to ask the even more obviously rhetorical question: do they not realize that in 2013, "Republican environmentalist" is as much of a logical falsehood as "clean coal"?...

Put yourself in the shoes of a right-wing Republican, elected official or not. You've been listening to Rush Limbaugh for twenty-five years now. You've been told, day in and day out, that climate change is a "hoax" concocted by Al Gore, ultra-liberal scientists, and Northeastern elitist RINOs or "Republicans in Name Only" (including Whitman, someone Limbaugh assailed for years on his program) in order to do little more than swell the size and scope of the federal government. You've had it drilled into your head, over and again, that progressives want to control the energy you use and the very car you drive.

Are you going to listen to anyone who says we should take climate change seriously, especially when they say it in the New York Times, a publication you have been taught to view as the church of secular humanism and left-wing political radicalism?

Of course not.

I'm a bit surprised that Salon, Grist, Climate Progress and other reality-based outfits are making such a big deal of this op-ed. It's not that the piece is bad. In fact, it's quite eloquent about the need for Congress to get going on cutting carbon:

As administrators of the E.P.A under Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush, we held fast to common-sense conservative principles - protecting the health of the American people, working with the best technology available and trusting in the innovation of American business and in the market to find the best solutions for the least cost.

That approach helped us tackle major environmental challenges to our nation and the world: the pollution of our rivers, dramatized when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969; the hole in the ozone layer; and the devastation wrought by acid rain.

The solutions we supported worked, although more must be done. Our rivers no longer burn, and their health continues to improve. The United States led the world when nations came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. Acid rain diminishes each year, thanks to a pioneering, market-based emissions-trading system adopted under the first President Bush in 1990. And despite critics' warnings, our economy has continued to grow.

Climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk. If we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this: When confronted by a problem, deal with it. Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done.

The problem is, from a political standpoint, it's a nothing-burger. If you're a Congressman or Senator whose only goal is to gratify Charles and David Koch, you're not going to care about what these former EPA administrators have to say.

The fact that the GOP cast this recent vote rejecting even the concept of a carbon tax less than a year after Superstorm Sandy smashed through the Northeast speaks volumes. As Secretary of State John Kerry noted earlier this year, the science is screaming at us to take action. Yet too many in Congress are wearing earplugs.

The Washington Post's Stephen Stromborg nails it:

As Friday's Times op-ed reminds us, there used to be a strong element in the Republican Party that was able to advocate for economically literate environmental policy. George H.W. Bush, after all, was the president who introduced market-based environmentalism into federal law, enacting a very-successful cap-and-trade program to combat acid rain. Now, the GOP's approach to the environment is dominated by those who go out of their way to repudiate good policy, use it as a political weapon, or both at the same time.

You're not going to see a shift on climate policy in the GOP until and unless entities with actual influence on the right begin to make the case for climate action.

When Roger Ailes writes a piece in the Wall Street Journal saying that Republicans need to knock it off with climate denial and pass strong legislation that puts a price on carbon and commences America's long-overdue shift to clean energy, then maybe we'll get somewhere. Until then, don't hold your breath waiting for red-state Republicans to go green --since you might turn blue first!

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D.R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer and a former contributor to the conservative website Human Events Online. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, ClimateCrocks.com, FrumForum.com, the Ripon Forum, Truth-Out.org, TheNextRight.com, and BookerRising.com. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from August 2009 to June, 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here: @DRTucker.