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Respected GOP Leaders Support Obama's Climate Action Plan

Frances Beinecke's picture

Frances Beinecke is the president of NRDC. Under Frances's leadership, the organization has launched a new strategic campaign that sharply focuses NRDC's efforts on curbing global...

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  • Aug 8, 2013 1:00 am GMT

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EPA Head Support Obama

Four Republican leaders who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under four Republican presidents have declared their support for President Obama’s climate action plan. Writing in a joint opinion piece in the New York Times on Friday, William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman said:

“We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.”

Like mayors, military leaders, business executives, and health professionals from across the country, these EPA administrators recognize that the damage done by climate change does not observe party lines. It threatens all Americans with extreme weather and economic burden. From heat waves to drought, damaged property to lost business, we all pay a price no matter where we live or how we vote: The government spent nearly $100 billion to respond to extreme weather events last year. That’s more than $1,100 per average US taxpayer.

“The costs of inaction are undeniable,” the former administrators wrote. “The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”

To prevent that fate, President Obama has announced a common-sense plan that will reduce carbon pollution from power plants—the nation’s largest source of carbon emissions–and promote energy efficiency and renewable power. NRDC’s experts outlined a similar approach, and we concluded it would cut carbon pollution 26 percent by 2020 and save people money on electricity bills. It will also help put Americans to work. Carbon pollution standards alone would create a net increase of 210,000 jobs in 2020.

The four administrators said cutting power plant carbon emissions and expanding clean energy technology is “inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.”

Many states have already started moving down this path. Nine Northeastern states—including some under the guidance of Republican governors—have established a regional carbon limit that has cut power-plant carbon by 30 percent and resulted in measures that will save consumers $1.3 billion on energy bills. Nearly 30 states—including both red and blue—have created renewable energy standards that helped wind power account for nearly half of all new installed energy capacity and created more than 200,000 jobs in the wind and solar industries.  

It is time for America to build on this progress and tackle climate change as a nation. Without this common cause, our children and grandchildren would be left to cope with the devastating consequences of unchecked climate change. We can’t pass this burden on to them, especially when we can already see what climate disruption can do to people’s lives. We must rise above political differences to face this challenge together. And we must act now.

The four Republican administrators supporting President Obama’s climate plan are helping to point the way. They wrote, “Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.”

Photo Credit: Global Warming Action/shutterstock

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Colin Cafferty's picture
Colin Cafferty on Aug 7, 2013

Why do you think that these four republicans have found common ground with Obama? And how can we amplify their message?

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Aug 8, 2013

Dear Colin:

In response to your very good question; the following might be a small part of the answer you are looking for. Instead of people learning and thinking about Global Warming and Climate Change [GWCC]; maybe it time for us to simplify the process and have people instead think:

“What can I do today to clean up the air I breath and the water I drink”.  

That phrase was not invented by any government or specific individual be it Republican, Democrate, Liberal, Conservative or Independent.  It is; or should be; an American view and we are about 70-80% of the way there.  Now more than ever the majority of the American people are engaged and want more renewable energy used to produce the energy they use.  We are finally starting to touch on some of the social aspects of GWCC.   

The average American has no idea what THEY can do to impact statements like “400 ppm of CO2 on a mountain top in Hawaii”.  The same is true about most climate studies and other scientific measurements. These study results and scienfific statements are NOT goals, objectives, stradegies or action statements that the people have any direct control over.  They are too busy looking for a job, going to work, fighting traffic, buying gas, taking the kids to the doctor and grocery shopping to become personally involved and learning about the consequences of 400 ppm of CO2.  

What we need to do is put our concerns about GWCC into terms that the American people feel empowered to do something about.  You know – goals, objectives and action plans the averager American can implement.  Maybe that is why 4 member of Congress have; so to speak; seen the light. Maybe they have finally realized GWCC is not an Obama thing or even a congressional thing but rather it is an American people thing.  It is probably even a planet thing but lets contain ourselves to what each individual American can do for now.  You know in the words of Robert F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country …”.  

After all; isn’t “clean air to breath and clean water to drink” our end goal?


Colin Cafferty's picture
Colin Cafferty on Aug 8, 2013

Reframing climate change as a public health issue does indeed sound like a sensible approach to engage voters of all political persuasions to take action to protect the most fundamental of human rights – access to clean air and water. The challenge lies in converting what is very much a local issue into the consolidated joined-up action at a global level which climate change demands. Of course, you could argue that if everyone acts locally, then the net effect is global in nature. But it’s never quite as simple as that…

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