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.

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