Time for the GOP to become green

May 20, 2009

Rob Sisson is president of Republicans for Environmental Protection. All opinions expressed are his own.

sisson1201(Politico) News flash: Republicans believe in protecting the environment. And we believe in playing it straight with the facts.

There are plenty of us green Republicans out here, including leaders like Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — President Barack Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to China — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois, to name a few.

As Huntsman said last year, “If we’re going to survive as a party, we need to focus on the environment.”

But protecting the environment isn’t just political expediency; it’s core philosophy. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that “conservative” and “conservationist” sound so much alike. And we don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of our landmark environmental bills — the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 — were signed into law by Republican presidents.

It was President Ronald Reagan who negotiated the 1987 international treaty to safeguard the Earth’s protective ozone layer by phasing out the use of chlorofluorocarbons.

That’s why it is so frustrating when my fellow Republicans today play games around one of the most important environmental issues of our time.

Climate change is real, it’s caused by humans, and it will create serious risks for our nation’s security, economy and quality of life — and sooner than we think. That’s the unmistakable message from scientists who have devoted their professional lives to understanding how human activities affect climate. One of them is Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate research scientist at Texas Tech and a devout evangelical Christian.

She is co-author of a forthcoming report that will document the stunning effects climate change will have throughout the United States — such as the climate of my own state of Michigan becoming like what North Texas experiences today. I’m not kidding — look at the report, from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, when it comes out shortly.

This is serious business and deserves a serious debate. Some Republicans — Reps. Mary Bono Mack of California and Bob Inglis of South Carolina come to mind — are thoughtfully engaged, but many on our side of the aisle have chosen politics over prudence. That’s why I reluctantly have to call out those Republicans who continue to spread the false claim that capping greenhouse gas pollution will — supposedly — cost American families $3,100 every year.

The National Republican Congressional Committee started playing this game in March. It claimed this bloated cost figure was based on an MIT study.

But the author of the study — who surely ought to know — said the NRCC was way off base. Here’s what the author, professor John Reilly, said about the NRCC claim: “It’s just wrong. It’s wrong in so many ways it’s hard to begin.”

In letters to House GOP leader John Boehner, Reilly asked the NRCC to stop using this false number. He said that a correct estimate of the costs was far below NRCC’s number, which was based on a sloppy analysis that was riddled with errors a freshman economics major would have caught in a heartbeat. Reilly also pointed out that his study analyzed a generic cap-and-trade bill without any cost mitigation provisions.

The House is now looking at a very different bill to fight global warming pollution. What do we know about what that bill would cost?

A recent EPA study estimates the cost at $98 to $140 per year for each household. Even with the legislation, however, total household spending would still increase nearly 20 percent by 2020.

The economy will be bigger in 10 years than it is today, which climate legislation critics often fail to point out. We can afford to invest in energy efficiency upgrades, develop more renewable energy and take other important steps to stabilize the climate that we all depend upon.

So to my fellow Republicans, I say: Act like real conservatives. Be honest about the science and about the facts. Take responsibility for fixing a real problem. And let the world know that today’s Republicans want to be remembered the way we recall President Theodore Roosevelt — as people of honor who stood up to conserve the world we live in for our kids and grandkids.

(c) Capitol News Company, LLC 2009


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You know what would be the greatest thing for this country, the economy, and the environment; put a solar panel on every house in America. A expensive proposition, but the savings in the long run should be well worth the effort and cost. By installing a solar panel on every home, energy bought from a “Mega” energy company like “Duke” would be reduced, saving the household money. Also, less power would be produced, or need be produced, which should lower demand for fossil fuel used in power production; less pollution in the air as well. In the National Security sense, such a smart grid would enable Americans everywhere the ability to keep power in any sort of emergency, such as a natural disaster. The people in Kentucky who went for almost 2 months without power because of an ice storm would be able to survive with less assistance.

Installing those panels would create more jobs in two different fields, manufacturing and installation. To me it seems the most logical choice. Why not add a small wind turbine to catch wind when possible? More jobs, less fossil fuel used, less pollutants in the air, and greater national security while lessening our dependency on oil, who cares if its foreign; a transition off of fossil fuels would have to be done eventually, why not make the transition now, especially since job creation, and lessening the burden on the middle class are the two greatest needs facing America today.

I agree about the inherent merits of solar power. There’s an article here about China spending $440 billion on solar subsidies by 2020. Solar energy is not just an option, but it corrects a number of systemic problems that interfere with employment.

A person does not have to be a licensed electrician to install solar cells. Let’s keep things that way. A person is not restricted by an exclusive dealership. Anybody with a reasonable amount of education can enter the industry and be involved in its growth. We can keep union interests from limiting another market. Plus there is widespread world-wide acceptance with a rapidly growing supply of affordable cells.

Right now solar panels are mounted on houses or outside on separate foundations. In the future I believe that the panels will be within the house structure itself while the outer skin will be a glass pane. So this can extend the life of the panels dramatically in cold climates. In warm climates this isn’t much of an issue. In hot climates power companies can move into commercial solar energy production using heliostats and towers. It is already happening.

Germany is moving into solar not just to produce energy but to create jobs. Solar energy creates a lot of jobs. For those interested in security, having a power supply for critical government buildings not dependent on the grid or limited fuel supplies can be really useful. The communications system involved in command operations can operate even or really low light. Also, battery technologies are improving along with electric vehicles.

So this is all about embracing the good. It is a moving target that will penalize those that stand still. Solar projects are expensive. So all of the money goes into the projects, and those people working on the projects receive the money, which goes right back into the economy. Have we forgotten what growth-thinking is all about. Green is capitalism. If government officials want kick-backs from big industries, that’s actually one of the hallmarks of communism.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

“Climate change is real, it’s caused by humans, and it will create serious risks for our nation’s security, economy and quality of life — and sooner than we think.”
Get Real Rob!
I just love it when people say human activity is responsible for climate change. Humans are responsible for 3% of the total carbon production each year. The rest is all natural. If you think Humans can change the climate by manipulating that 3%, then you have bought into the Green Industry propaganda and are on your way to making a few people rich at our expense. I am all for cleaning up our pollution. Carbon is the least of our worries. We dump pollutants into our water, air and land that make carbon look like cotton candy. We do not need the Al Gores of the world to distract us from cleaning up these toxic pollutants just to make them rich from their investments in Green Industries.
You want to save energy and get off oil and coal? Remove incandescent light bulbs from our market and invest in the production of an inexpensive LED replacement light bulb. This would save over 20% of our total electrical energy consumption. Also, do not be fooled by “hybrid” auto technology. Today there exists a sports car which runs on a diesel power plant that gets 100 mpg. I own a 1988 Honda Civic that gets 33mpg and it has 210K miles on it. What has our auto industry produced in 20 years that gets better mileage? A heavy, high maintenance cost hybrid. In 1998 a car was featured at the Detroit auto show by an independent that used a flywheel energy storage power plant similar to what stores the power of our solar powered satellites. This vehicle had a rage of 300 miles on one “charge”, a true plug and go vehicle. And with the advances in energy recapture (when braking) and solar energy production we can minimize the amount of “power plant” electricity the vehicle requires. The idea of your car “charging up” while sitting in the parking lot at work is not a thing of fiction. Our auto industry can do this if they are motivated by something other that the private oil industry and greed.
The idea of Mr. Walker’s is not far fetched. The idea of distributed power generation using wind, solar, and geo-thermal, depending on what combination works best in your area, is not out of the question. It would raise the cost of a home by about 10K yet that home would produce enough energy to take care of its energy needs (no electric bill) while producing extra to return to the grid. This excess would be paid for which in turn would pay for the maintenance of the equipment. With today’s advances in technology this is very feasible and could easily power a plug and go transportation industry.
I suggest you not believe me and research this on your own and when you are convinced email your Congressmen and the White House and tell them what direction you want them to go. I have. Since the government owns most of the US auto industry, it should not be that hard to spend the billions it takes to retool on retooling the industry to produce vehicles that will actually move the US in the direction we want to go…away from oil and polluting toward an improved environment and lifestyle. We really do not have to give up one for the other.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Great article. Keep getting the word out.

Posted by Tom Olson | Report as abusive

Good for you Rob! It’s apparent that most of those in the Republican party have been blinded not by science but by $$$ bills plastered over their eyes by groups with an economic interest in keeping our energy production status quo. Regardless of scientific facts that no one is 100% certain of, this revolution has been coming for a long time now and if your fellow Republicans don’t hitch on for the ride, they’ll become a new model for the girl in Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale.”

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale.

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

“Republicans for Environmental Protection” ROFL !!!
That like “Prostitutes for Chastity”

Posted by D Sakarya | Report as abusive

The GOP has no viable candidate for high office. They have a severe talent deficit, along with the financial and policy deficits they left the rest of the world with. What has happened in the last 10 years in the US and the world has been incredibly and inexplicably destructive. I find myself thinking “why” and “who benefits from this utter destruction” We have gone from one extreme to the other. We have gone from completely unregulated markets to Government more or less seizing private companies and capital. I find it compelling that a majority of Americans now identify themselves as Independents, and this is where the next wave of political talent is going to rise. If they survive the onslaught from GE and Viacom and News Corp. This is why the internet must remain free, if the internet falls under Government control freedom as we know it will be forever silenced. Our way of life has already been severely undermined and damaged. The People really cannot take much more, and need to readjust their expectations and plans for the future.

Phoenix 1 says that Republicans have no viable candidate for high office, which is true, because entirely too many “party conservatives” shunned the brilliance and forthright philosophy of Dr. Ron Paul. Not only that, but there are some of us out here in the States who think that Dr. Paul was sabotaged by both the bought-and-paid for network media and by some within his campaign.

OK, so that is all over with and the ‘new age’ of O’Bama is here and we’re stuck with the fake Irishman from the utterly corrupt Chicago political machine. Hooray.

House Republicans appear to be functionally clueless, and that at a time when Speaker Pelosi is slowly cooking in her own juices !! In the minority, the Senate’s Republicans seem to be almost wholly tongue-tied, too.

Social conservatives have almost nowhere to go, and pro-business conservatives seem to care only about money and are therefore willing to follow ‘the shilling’ to “coin a phrase.” Going green on energy conservation and solar energy is, hopefully, something these poor dinosaurs can and will grasp and understand. And soon.

Putting green energy technologies into our homes and into our businesses — if any small businesses can survive the Pelosicrat socialist onslaught — makes more sense than any other strategy which has been offered so far. I’m with Rob Sisson on that, for sure.

“Be honest about the science and about the facts.” I suggest you differentiate between slanted data and facts. Global warming is a natural event—in this case, this planet has been warming for 12,000-years. There is no data (flawed models do not count) that proves man and especially the U.S. is THE cause. This is green politics. We need to be better stewards for sure, but understand, you do not reverse a natural global event. Put the monies and efforts in the right direction where “global warming” is concerned. I suggest you dig deeper into this issue; it is not what the media and PC scientists say.

Posted by George | Report as abusive


I wouldn’t leave the installation workers unregulated. America has a quality problem because of the flood of cheap products from slave labor countries. To set America apart(once again) we need to focus on quality. To instill and protect that image of quality, we need to train, teach, and educate the installers. If nothing else, they will be professionals with a documented ability they can use for future work.

as for George

You are right, the Earth warms and cools in cycles, much like a clock. However; like any clock, man ( and his carbon based industries) can reach up and move time forward, that is, effect the earth to move into a cycle much sooner than NATURE intended.

If you do not think so, then you deny the power man has over this planet.
If you think man has power over this planet, then we need to error on the side of caution and preserve this beautiful world, our only Eden, the only home we have in this Universe.

Even the animals of the earth know not to destroy their home. What does it say about humanity as a supposedly intelligent species when our actions are dumber than the animals we are supposed to be king over?

Posted by C. D. Walker | Report as abusive

No way. Human-Induced climate change is a hoax. We have had warming, but not beyond natural variability. In fact, artic sea ice has recovered and we are on a cooling trend since 2003. Yeap. It’s true. Don’t fall for the CO2 alarmism. But don’t discount man’s ability to modify the environment. Leaded gasoline, CFCs, etc, DHT, all modified the environment with negative consequences. You can fight the green fight, but don’t get sucked into thinking CO2 is the target. We need to focus on much more scientifically verifiable, immediate-impact matters. Like why MTBE is in breast milk. Like why toxins in the environment are killing off amphibian populations. Interestingly coal also gives off toxins when burned. But other materials do not. Remember the warming alarmists are proposing a warming of 0.2 degrees per decade. That little amount is within the error bars of their statistics. We simply must hold off on the CO2 debate, but put forth a very competent, thorough, toxin-focused agenda. Such an agenda will have far more dramatic and immediate rewards.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive