OP-ED: Proud of Pa.'s GOP climate resolution co-sponsors


Recently, 11 Republican legislators boldly joined hands and stepped forward in introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives that acknowledges climate change and the need for solutions.

Representatives Ryan Costello, Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, Richard Hanna and Elise Stefanik of New York, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of Florida, David Reichert from Washington state, Bob Dold from Illinois, and Frank LoBiondo from New Jersey, joined New York Rep. Chris Gibson in introducing the resolution.

"All too often, the conversation about appropriate and balanced environmental stewardship gets caught up in partisan politics. Yet, this conversation is key to the preservation of our great country for generations to come, as important as ensuring we have fiscally responsible policies to secure our future," said Congressman Gibson in a news release on his website. "For that reason, I believe the most important first step forward is recognizing that this is also a fundamentally conservative issue, and finding common ground on how to address it."

The resolution acknowledges "stewardship of our economy and our environment is a critical responsibility for all Americans in order to ensure that we preserve our great Nation for future generations." It also acknowledges the negative impacts of climate change across the U.S. and our economy that include "longer and hotter heat waves, more severe storms, worsening flood and drought cycles, growing invasive species and insect problems, threatened native plant and wildlife populations, rising sea levels, and, when combined with a lack of proper forest management, increased wildfire risk."

The resolution also mentions the threat that climate change imposes to our national security, which has been laid out in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review by the Pentagon, as well as the additional burden that climate change will place on State and Federal budgets in the long-term.

These representatives are also worried, rightly so, about the negative impact any solutions could have on the economy, saying "any efforts to mitigate the risks of, prepare for, or otherwise address our changing climate and its effects should not constrain the United States economy, especially in regards to global competitiveness."

This opens the door for solutions such as "fee and dividend," a market-based solution Citizens' Climate Lobby has been advocating to Congress. Fee and dividend would place a fee on carbon-based fuels at the point of entry into our economy. The collected revenue would be returned to households equally in the form of a regular dividend. Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), conducted a study on CCL's proposal. REMI found that fee and dividend would be effective at reducing emissions, creating millions of jobs, and growing our economy, mainly due to the economic stimulus of returning revenue back into the economy.

The resolution was introduced exactly a week before Pope Francis addressed Congress on the need for action on climate change. The Pope called "for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity." The Pope has just released his encyclical called "Laudato Si, on the care of the common home," which urges nations to reduce carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable, carbon-free sources of energy. Creation care is not a new topic for the Catholic Church. Popes Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and Paul VI addressed stewardship of God's creation, but Francis is the first to devote an entire encyclical to the subject.

I couldn't agree more with Pope Francis' words to Congress: "I have no doubt that the United States, and this Congress, have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature."

In a statement regarding the Pope's message to Congress on his website, Rep. Perry says" "He called America a 'land of dreams' and expressed a desire that future generations will be able to live and prosper 'in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.' Let us live up to that challenge and to the blessings that God has given to our great Nation." I too, hope we can live up to that challenge. We can start by reducing the carbon pollution that threatens the prosperity of our nation.

I'm proud to live in a state which has three co-sponsors signing on to the Gibson resolution. Representatives Costello, Fitzpatrick, and Meehan are showing true leadership in the party which has a tradition of being good stewards of our environment. Representative Perry can sign on as co-sponsor to the Gibson resolution, signaling his support in ending the polarization of this global issue, and moving forward with his colleagues across the aisle to protect American citizens, current and future, and all of creation. Please consider contacting Representative Perry and encouraging him to sign on as co-sponsor to the climate change resolution introduced by Rep. Chris Gibson.

— Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby and lives in Dover.