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Opinion

Commentary: Orange County congressional delegation supports climate-change solutions

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Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) supports a carbon tax, as do other other members of Congress from Orange County who want more action taken on climate change.
(File photo)

On climate change, the conversation in Washington, D.C. has taken a decidedly positive turn. Democrats are pushing the issue high on their agenda and more and more Republicans are acknowledging the threat of human-caused climate change and beginning to talk about solutions.

No doubt the change is related to dire reports from the scientific community that if we do not act soon climate chaos may overtake us and become unmanageable. It may also be a response to the Trump administration’s disregard for climate science and its reversal of environmental protections. It may even be in response to the millions of young people around the world who are striking for climate action through the #fridaysforfuture movement.

Whatever the cause, climate attitudes are changing among Republican leaders. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution last month called the Green Real Deal — his answer to the Democrats’ Green New Deal.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has said, “Climate change is real.” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the Republican chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said in a recent congressional hearing that his staff was considering the merits of a carbon tax.

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The three Republicans currently considering challenging Donald Trump in 2020 all accept climate science and believe climate action is urgent. Among the more than 20 Democrats who have entered the 2020 race, all acknowledge climate science and place addressing climate change at the top of their agendas.

All embrace the goals of the Green New Deal and intend to stay involved in the Paris Climate Agreement. Many of them are advocating specific solutions that put a price on carbon pollution, most favoring a carbon fee and dividend approach, a policy embodied in a promising bipartisan bill in the House, the “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act,” HR763.

This bill already has 41 sponsors, including four members of Congress from Orange County: Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach), Katie Porter (D-Irvine), Gil Cisneros (D-Fullerton) and Mike Levin (D-Dana Point).

This carbon fee and dividend approach appeals to Democrats and Republicans alike and may provide common ground for a bipartisan way forward. HR763 is a free-market solution that promises to reduce emissions 90% by 2050 while growing the economy, driving innovation, protecting lower income families, and motivating other nations to adopt similar policies.

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Bob Taylor lives in Newport Beach and volunteers with the Orange County Coast Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.

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