Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo fired back yesterday when U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt dismissed the link between carbon dioxide and global warming.
The Florida lawmaker, who has been speaking out about sea-level rise in his Keys-based district, said the link between CO2 and climate is based on decades of "scientific fact and the reality facing communities like my district."
"EPA is tasked with the very responsibility of helping to lower the impact of carbon emissions, and for Mr. Pruitt to assert otherwise without scientific evidence is reckless and unacceptable," Curbelo said.
While Curbelo was the most vocal in criticizing Pruitt yesterday, he is not alone: The ranks of House Republicans in the moderate environmental bloc have multiplied in the mere four months since 2016 ballots were tallied.
GOP membership in a caucus devoted to climate change has more than doubled since the start of the 115th Congress, growing from six to 14. According to a source, Republican Rep. John Faso of New York joined the Climate Solutions Caucus yesterday yesterday, the most recent addition to the bipartisan group looking at mitigation and adaptation options.
Ten Republicans who co-sponsored a resolution committing to work "constructively" to address climate change, "including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact" on warming, won their re-election bids — including in districts carried by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
That resolution is expected to be reintroduced, with a bigger base of support.
Nine GOP members bucked their party on the recent vote to repeal one of the Obama administration's landmark rules for protecting waterways from coal mining. Eleven Republicans voted against scrapping a Bureau of Land Management rule that seeks to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry.
It's incremental progress, but advocates of climate action are embracing the growth.
"If you get 40 Republicans, then you have about the same size as the Freedom Caucus, and I consider that to be a blocking minority within the majority," said Danny Richter, legislative and science director for Citizens' Climate Lobby, a group that advocates for a revenue-neutral carbon tax and dividend plan.
Read more at A 'Freedom Caucus' for the Environment?