GOP Lawmakers Take Fact-Based Stand on Climate Change

During Senate consideration of legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline an important milestone was reached on climate change. Five Republican senators voted for an amendment sponsored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) stating that “climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” While five is not a huge number, it hopefully signals that stewardship-minded Republicans are starting to finally assert themselves on climate.

These five, Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham  (SC), and Mark Kirk (IL), deserve our gratitude and encouragement for taking a genuinely conservative, fact-based stand on climate change. They need to hear thanks and kudos from stewardship-minded conservative and center-right constituents. Please contact them today.

A similar amendment by Republican Senator Hoeven from North Dakota, which acknowledged human contribution to climate change but omitted the word “significantly,” came only one vote short of the 60 votes needed for passage. It garnered the support of 15 Republicans, that–in addition to the five above and Hoeven–also included Senators John McCain (AZ), Bob Corker (TN), Rob Portman (OH), John Thune (SD), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Orin Hatch (UT), Mike Rounds (SD), and Rand Paul (KY).  These senators also merit encouragement from their constituents.

And it is worth noting that these Republican Senators are not alone. Three likely Republican presidential candidates also acknowledge the basic facts of climate change. Jeb Bush and Chris Christie have been clear on this point, and just recently they were joined by Mitt Romney, who told those gathered at a conference in Salt Lake City that he is “one of those Republicans” who thinks humans are contributing to a warming planet and that “real leadership” is needed to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Related Article: Majority of Senate says climate change is real and human-driven

Related Article: GOP Looks to take a Position on Climate Change

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Low Gasoline Prices! Now What?

With gasoline prices at their lowest in years, odds are that we will soon be seeing reports about gas guzzler sales on the rise, people traveling more, and maybe even a comeback of the Hummer. Such short-sighted responses might reflect human nature, but they are not conservative.

Edmund Burke, widely regarded as the father of modern conservatism, considered  prudence the key virtue in both personal and political decision-making. Given the historic volatility of gasoline prices, decisions that assume low prices going forward are certainly not prudent.

Gas prices are lower, in part, because greater automobile fuel efficiency and driving habits are helping hold down demand. Reducing demand keeps downward pressure on pricing. If efficiency goes down and demand goes up, prices will respond in the opposite direction.

The other reason gas prices are lower is increased supply. This is due to oil production coming from Bakken shale in North Dakota and the recent decision by OPEC to keep supply up. Producing oil from Bakken shale is more expensive than producing oil from the Middle East fields, and OPEC is trying to drive down prices to the point that Bakken production is no longer profitable.

If OPEC’s gambit is successful, prices will go up due to decreased U.S. production. If it fails, OPEC will eventually have to cut production to bring prices back up. Either way, low prices are not here to stay. Furthermore, oil is a finite resource. We have already tapped much of world’s easily accessible and cheap to produce oil.  Occasional price dips are the exception, not the rule.

The prudent, and therefore conservative, response to low gasoline prices is to double down on efficiency. Not only will it help slow the inevitable price increase, but driving a fuel-efficient vehicle provides protection for the family budget no matter what the price at the pump is.

Being efficient and judicious with our use of natural resources is smart, being wasteful is not. As Ronald Reagan once said: “What is a conservative after all, but one who conserves.”

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Keeping Land Protection Bi-partisan

After multiple efforts in Congress–Republican and Democrat–to protect the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles have been stymied by a few public land opponents  in the House Natural Resources Committee, the President used his authority under the Antiquities Act last month to grant the area extra protection as a national monument.

It was the right move. The San Gabriel Mountains are an essential asset, providing LA County with most of its remaining open space for recreation and supplying a third of its drinking water. Still, there are those who–looking through partisan shaded lenses–were quick to criticize the designation.

In an op-ed appearing in the Riverside/San Bernardino Press Enterprise, Bridgett Luther reminds everyone that protecting the San Gabriels has always been a bi-partisan endeavor and that Antiquities Act authority is a Republican tool. Luther served as Director of the California Department of Conservation in the Schwarzenegger Administration, is president of Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, and a former staff member of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship.

Click the link below to check it out:

BRIDGETT LUTHER: Protecting San Gabriel Mountains is a bipartisan cause

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New IPCC Climate Report Paints Urgent Picture

The world’s climate scientists have spoken and it would be prudent for our elected leaders to listen–especially those whose standard response to media and voter questions about climate change has been “I am not a scientist.” You don’t have to be a scientist to understand what is happening to our climate and recognize the need for action.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its Fifth Assessment Report. This is its first full IPCC report since 2007 and represents the culmination of five years of work by 2000 scientists combing through 30,000 studies.

The Report concludes with a 95 percent certainty that man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are responsible for most, if not all, global warming since the 1950s and that those emissions have pushed atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide to levels “unprecedented” in the past 800,000 years.

It also concludes that the adverse impacts of this climate change are being felt now, and include massive forest die-offs, more frequent and severe heat waves, melting of land ice, changes in precipitation patterns and acidification of the oceans.

The report calls for urgent action to reduce global GHG emissions and says failure to do so will inevitably lead to a drastically altered climate, along with mass extinction of plants and animals, extreme precipitation events, flooding of major cities, island nations lost to sea level rise, extreme heat, and drought–all leading to food shortages, displaced populations and tremendous economic loss.

Decision makers have a moral responsibility to take these dire warnings seriously and work constructively towards solutions.

In 1988 President Reagan, when faced with warnings from climate scientists about a dangerous erosion of earth’s protective ozone layer from the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), he responded by pushing through an international treaty to phase-out of CFCs.

We deserve that same kind prudent leadership from our leaders today.

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Wilderness Act Turns 50

Fifty years ago–September 3rd, 1964–the Wilderness Act was signed into law. This might not have happened if it was not for a staunchly conservative Congressman from Pennsylvania named John Saylor. Saylor, whose nickname was “Mr. Conservation,” was perhaps the most pivotal champion of the legislation in the House and deserves much credit for its bi-partisan appeal and almost unanimous passage.

In the decades since, the Wilderness Act has been used to protect over  100 million acres of our nation’s remaining wild lands.  This great accomplishment should be celebrated by all Americans, especially those who care about the future of conservatism.

It was the vast American wilderness that greeted our forefathers which helped to forge our American identity and promote the traditional conservative values  that we hold dear, such as personal responsibility, hard work, humility and faith. Today wilderness still reinforces those values for anyone who wants to explore them.

For that we owe a debt of gratitude to all who helped make the Wilderness Act a reality, and to those who have since used it to protect these spectacular landscapes–which includes John Saylor and the president responsible for signing more wilderness bills into law than any other…Ronald Reagan.

To read more about why conservatives should care about protecting wilderness, check out our Huffington Post piece Why Conservatism Needs Wilderness.

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CRS Launches Senior Fellows Program

Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship is pleased to announce the launch of its Senior Fellows Program. This program offers stewardship-minded conservatives with a strong track record of success, expertise in their field and a  thoughtful perspective on public policy, an opportunity to apply their knowledge and wisdom to priority issues of concern to the organization. The program provides CRS Fellows a platform to contribute prudent and genuinely conservative ideas in the effort to solve today’s most pressing energy and environmental challenges.

Our inaugural selection into the CRS Senior Fellows program is Andrew Fales. Andrew brings extensive experience in energy, finance, tax policy, and accounting. He currently serves as Senior Adviser to the co-head of investments for one of the oldest and most successful energy investment firms in the nation. Andrew, who has served as treasurer for the Idaho Republican Party holds a Master of Accountancy degree from BYU and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

 For more information visit our Senior Fellows Program page.

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Fourth Hottest July Ever. Really?

Those living in much of the Eastern and Central U.S. would likely be surprised to hear NOAA’s recent announcement that July 2014 was one of the hottest Julys on record. For many Americans, this has been one of the most comfortable summers in recent memory—no sweltering heat waves and triple digit heat indexes that are often the summer norm. In fact, twenty-five states saw a cooler than average July and a few experienced record low temperatures.

Does this mean NOAA is wrong? No it doesn’t. While a few areas of the globe were cooler than average, most were warmer. July brought record heat to the U.S. West Coast, Norway and parts of Africa.

The contradiction between the temperature in one place and the global average is an example of how weather systems and climate intersect. Weather systems will always influence what we experience at any given time and place. Sometimes that will align with global averages and trends, sometimes it won’t.

This underscores why it is unwise to make assumptions about climate change based on localized and short-term weather conditions. Prudence dictates that we look at the big picture, which includes average global temperatures and long-term trends.

The map below provides a good visual overview of how July temperatures, worldwide, compared to long-term averages.

NOAA Graphic - July 2014 Global Temperatures / Departure from Average

NOAA Graphic – July 2014 Global Temperatures

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Nothing Conservative About Candidate’s Climate Denial Video

Louisiana state Representative Lenar Whitney, who is running for Congress, has posted a video online where she calls global warming “the greatest deception in the history of mankind.” She goes on to claim that any 10-year old child can disprove global warming with “one of the simplest scientific devices known to man” while holding up what appears to be a Geratherm brand rectal thermometer.

Representative Whitney is trying to argue–as she does throughout the ad–that global warming is not real and the earth has gotten colder since 2006. Her version of reality is based on bad information, cherry-picked data, political bias, and fundamental ignorance about both weather and climate.

The truth is that the earth as a whole continues to get hotter over time, not colder–roughly 1.5 degrees hotter since 1880. To date, the hottest year on record is 2010, while 2013 ranks 4th. Furthermore, each of the top ten warmest years on record have occurred on or after 1998. All one has to do is look at a temperature graph since 1880 and it is clear that, despite short-term fluctuations due to weather patterns, global temperatures have climbed higher and higher over time.

Denying this simple reality–which has been verified by temperature data from land-based weather stations, weather balloons, satellite measurements, sea and ocean temperature records, tree rings and various other sources–is certainly not conservative. Genuine conservatism is not dishonest and fact-averse, it is firmly grounded in reality and prudent decision-making.

Our reality should include conservative solutions to problems like climate change, but that is unlikely as long as a vocal faction on the political right is more interested in denial and demagoguery than solving problems. took a look at Representative Whitney’s video and gave it a “Truth-O-Meter” rating of “Pants on Fire,” a rating reserved for the most blatant level of untruth. You can read the analysis here.


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EPA’s Proposed Wetlands Rule Makes Fiscal Sense

EPA’s recently proposed wetlands rule has taken a lot heat from special interests such as American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of Home Builders. They claim that the rule represents “federal overreach” and is a “land grab.” Some members of Congress are piling on too.

The truth is that this rule simply restores the original interpretation of the Clean Water Act that stood for over 30 years, before a muddled 3-way Supreme Court ruling in 2006 created massive confusion and has contributed to an accelerated rate of wetland loss.

The important thing for conservatives to understand is that wetland loss in this country has become a fiscal nightmare that imposes huge costs on the American taxpayer.  CRS and Taxpayers for Common Sense wrote a joint op-ed on this topic that explains why fiscal conservatives must work hard to protect wetlands. It earlier this week in The Hill and is linked below. Please check it out.

Fiscal Conservatives Should Love Wetlands

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House Moves Against Theodore Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act

Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives is planning a vote this week on H.R. 1459, a bill sponsored by Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and six other Western anti-public land zealots that chips away at the Antiquities Act signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.

The Antiquities Act–which was introduced by a Republican, passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by a Republican President–gives the President authority to protect iconic historical, cultural, and natural sites as National Monuments. The law has served our nation well for over 100 years and been used by 16 Presidents (8 Republican and 8 Democrat).

The sponsors of H.R. 1459 are promoting their bill as a way to undermine the authority of the current President. By making this about President Obama, they are banking on partisanship to deliver the needed number of Republican votes for passage.

This is short-sighted in the extreme. A National Monument proclaimed by the President under the Antiquities Act can already be abolished by an act of Congress if it is unpopular. By limiting presidential authority on the front end, H.R. 1489 would equally hamper a future Republican President.

The Antiquities Act was enacted at a time of mounting concern over loss of priceless natural and historic treasures in the West to uncontrolled looting and vandalism. By authorizing the President to protect nationally important resources, the Antiquities Act facilitates a swift response to threats. In its absence, these assets were often irreparably damaged before Congress could act.

The Antiquities Act is a prudent and conservative law that ensures protection for those special places that are irreplaceable features of the American experience. It provides a vital safeguard against short-term pressures to exploit such sites.

With a myriad of threats facing our remaining natural landscapes and historic sites, and a dysfunctional Congress, our nation needs the Antiquities Act just as much today as it did when Theodore Roosevelt signed it into law.

As the great conservative author and theorist Russell Kirk wrote:

Nothing is more conservative than conservation.”

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