House Republican Plans to Introduce Pro-Climate-Science Bill

Chris Gibson wants the GOP to “operate in the realm of knowledge and science.”

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2,1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground.
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Dec. 5, 2014, 11:25 a.m.

A Re­pub­lic­an House mem­ber is bat­tling the skep­ti­cism to­ward cli­mate-change sci­ence that’s com­mon in GOP ranks. And he wants to put law­makers on re­cord in the pro­cess.

Rep. Chris Gib­son said Thursday he plans to in­tro­duce a res­ol­u­tion on cli­mate change that will help oth­ers “re­cog­nize the real­ity” of the situ­ation. Gib­son said the ex­treme weath­er he has wit­nessed in his own up­state New York dis­trict sup­ports the sci­ence, and he wants to be a lead­er in spur­ring re­cog­ni­tion of chan­ging weath­er pat­terns.

“My dis­trict has been hit with three 500-year floods in the last sev­er­al years, so either you be­lieve that we had a one in over 100 mil­lion prob­ab­il­ity that oc­curred, or you be­lieve as I do that there’s a new nor­mal, and we have chan­ging weath­er pat­terns, and we have cli­mate change. This is the sci­ence,” said the two-term law­maker who was reelec­ted in Novem­ber.

“I hope that my party—that we will come to be com­fort­able with this, be­cause we have to op­er­ate in the realm of know­ledge and sci­ence, and I still think we can bring for­ward con­ser­vat­ive solu­tions to this, ab­so­lutely, but we have to re­cog­nize the real­ity,” Gib­son said. “So I will be bring­ing for­ward a bill, a res­ol­u­tion that states as such, with really the in­tent of ral­ly­ing us, to harken us to our best sense, our abil­ity to over­come hard chal­lenges.”

Gib­son spoke at an event hos­ted by Cit­izens for Re­spons­ible En­ergy Solu­tions, which is a pro-Re­pub­lic­an ad­vocacy group; a PAC that sup­ports Re­pub­lic­ans called Con­cord 51; and the Con­ser­va­tion Lead­er­ship Coun­cil, a group of con­ser­vat­ives that in­cludes Gale Norton, who was In­teri­or Sec­ret­ary un­der George W. Bush. The En­vir­on­ment­al De­fense Fund helped cre­ate the CLC.

Event or­gan­izers provided a video clip of his com­ments. Gib­son’s of­fice did not re­spond to in­quir­ies about the mat­ter. But while the spe­cif­ics of the ef­fort aren’t yet clear, Gib­son’s stances are at odds with many in the GOP’s ranks.

As­cend­ant Re­pub­lic­ans on Cap­it­ol Hill are pre­par­ing fresh as­saults on the White House cli­mate agenda, and ex­press­ing con­tin­ued doubts about the sci­entif­ic con­sensus that burn­ing fossil fuels and oth­er hu­man activ­ity is the lead­ing driver of glob­al warm­ing.

In­com­ing Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, dur­ing his reelec­tion cam­paign in Ken­tucky, said he is “not a sci­ent­ist” when asked about cli­mate change, a line used by a num­ber of Re­pub­lic­ans.

Gib­son, to be sure, hardly marches in lock­step with en­vir­on­ment­al­ists. He sup­ports the Key­stone XL oil-sands pipeline and has voted for ex­pan­ded off­shore drilling.

But he also joined just two oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans last March in vot­ing against a bill to scuttle EPA’s car­bon-emis­sions rules for power plants, and he has also voted against oth­er at­tacks on fed­er­al cli­mate-change pro­grams.

He won sup­port in this year’s elec­tions from the polit­ic­al branch of the En­vir­on­ment­al De­fense Fund. “It’s very en­cour­aging to see this kind of lead­er­ship emer­ging in the Con­gress,” Tony Kreind­ler, EDF Ac­tion’s seni­or dir­ect­or for stra­tegic com­mu­nic­a­tions, said of Gib­son’s planned res­ol­u­tion.

Else­where in his re­marks, Gib­son both touted his sup­port for ex­pan­ded drilling and called for more in­vest­ment in fed­er­al green-en­ergy in­vest­ment, while not­ing the po­ten­tial of sol­ar en­ergy as costs de­cline.

He ex­pressed hope that more right-left co­oper­a­tion on the en­vir­on­ment and en­ergy is pos­sible. “For work­ing-class fam­il­ies and small busi­nesses … we have got to find ways to lower en­ergy costs,” while at the same time “en­sur­ing that we have an in­hab­it­able Earth go­ing for­ward.”

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