When I served in the United States Congress during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, one of my top goals was to mitigate the risk that global warming posed.
To address this threat to our nation’s security, I worked with both political parties to leverage America’s competitiveness in technology by investing in energy resources that would create new economic opportunities and jobs.
As a Republican member of Congress, I am happy to note that Presidents Reagan and Bush both signed key bills into law that promoted clean and efficient energy technologies. They continued a long tradition of Republican stewardship in protecting our nation’s air, water and lands, using free-market policies that maintained America’s leadership.
Though that was several decades ago, we see the benefits now, with cleaner air and the fact that clean solar and wind energy are often the lowest-cost choices.
Did you know that the Energy Star program has helped save families and businesses more than $430 billion in the past 25 years, while also achieving broad reductions of harmful pollution?
I’m sorry to report that Republicans in the U.S. Senate are working to roll back many of these successful, common sense policies that have enjoyed bipartisan support across the country.
Since I helped get the ball rolling on these issues, I remain interested in knowing why today’s Republicans are abandoning our heritage on these important issues.
Senate Republicans and Democrats recently established a Climate Solutions Caucus, whose members “work to achieve action addressing the risks from climate change.”
Bipartisan caucuses are helpful in bringing legislators together to solve urgent problems, so I eagerly looked for Cory Gardner’s name.
In case you were wondering, Cory Gardner is Colorado’s junior U.S. senator, but he’s been hard to find in Colorado lately, as he spends lots of time at lavish out-of-state political fundraising events.
In fact, he hasn’t scheduled a public town hall meeting with his constituents in over two years.
Cory is not part of the climate caucus. There were just three Republican senators.
Cory’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has allowed very few votes on climate change since Cory took office in 2015.
One of those few climate votes was last fall, when Gardner voted for the “Dirty Power Plan” that overturns federal clean air and climate rules that are so important for protecting our climate and the air we breathe.
Cory votes against the climate almost every time he gets the chance. He’s clearly not worried about the consequences of climate on our economy, our security or our children’s future.
Cory poses by wind turbines and announces breakthroughs in solar power, but he knows where his bread is buttered.
Cory may talk about an “all of the above” energy policy, but that’s a clever way of saying we need to continue subsidizing dirty fossil fuels.
Cory talks about supporting “innovation.” We all can support innovative energy technologies, but we already have clean, renewable energy technologies that can be deployed now.
Cory might talk about “discussing” ways of “finding a solution,” but in politics, talk is cheap.
Our forests are burning. Our summers are getting hotter and drier. These and many other indicators of climate change already are causing public health problems.
Our children are facing a climate crisis for which we are not prepared and for which Republicans in Congress are definitely not preparing.
We can do better.
Claudine Schneider is a Republican former United States congresswoman and is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which brings together Republican former members of Congress who seek to put “country before party.” She works with various national, nonpartisan, watchdog organizations and was one of the founding members of VoteSmart.org.