U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., who co-chairs and helped found the Climate Solution Caucus, took to the national stage this past weekend to focus on the environment.
Last week, Curbelo joined fellow Republicans U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania and Elise Stefanik of New York to unveil a resolution urging the GOP-controlled U.S. House to use “American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism” to defend the “conservative principle to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment” by supporting “economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates.”
Curbelo, Costello and Stefanik rounded up more than a dozen fellow House Republicans to back the resolution including U.S. Reps. Brain Mast and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Mia Love of Utah, Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania and Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
On Saturday, Curbelo took to the national airwaves, appearing on “CBS This Morning” to focus on the resolution, talking with Alex Wagner and Anthony Mason from CBS News about it.
“So Congressman, this resolution calls for ‘conservative environmental stewardship and economically viable solutions,” Wagner said. “What specifically do you mean by that?”
“Well, the first thing we’re trying to do is take some of the politics out of this climate change issue,” Curbelo replied. “For about 15, 20 years, this issue has been hyper-politicized. There’s a lot of polarization. A lot of Republicans just assume that they are supposed to ignore this issue, well that’s not the case. We know all the science is in, all the facts are in, and we know that parts of our country, like South Florida, are already experiencing some of the effects of climate change. So what we want to do is come together, have a sincere dialogue, a productive dialogue, and put forward some solutions that will promote clean energy, help reduce carbon emissions, and protect the environment that we all depend on.”
“Congressman, your district includes the Florida Keys as well as the Everglades, was that a factor in your support of this?” Mason asked.
“Absolutely,” Curbelo answered. “In South Florida we have chronic flooding in areas like Miami Beach and the Florida Keys. Just because its high tide we get flooding. We know that sea levels are rising, we know that carbon emissions are a major contributor to this issue, and you also mentioned the Everglades. The Everglades are critical for South Florida. That’s where our water supply is. So if we continue seeing salt water intrusion into the Everglades, it’s eventually going to put our drinking water supply at risk. So these are local issues, but the issue of climate change and protecting the environment is a national and international issue, and Republicans and Democrats should work together toward some consensus solutions.”
“Congressman, that position would seem to put you at odds with the White House. Scott Pruitt, the EPA Administrator, said he does not believe that carbon dioxide emissions are a major factor in climate change,” Wagner noted. “This White House, President Trump, has called on a review of vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Is that satisfactory to you? Are you happy with that direction?”
“Well, last week I called out Mr. Pruitt for saying some comments that I thought were irresponsible and reckless,” Curbelo said. “No one should be questioning the fact that all the evidence, all the science, points to climate change as a result of carbon emissions. So we have to agree on the facts. We have to agree on the science, and we’re going to hold this administration, any administration accountable on this issue.
“Now, having said that, we know there are people on the president’s cabinet, close advisors to the president who understand that this is a real issue that requires leadership here in the Congress and also in the White House, so we look forward to building those relationships to work with them to get some good results,” Curbelo continued.
“You’ve gotten a signal from inside the White House that you have allies on combating climate change and an acknowledgment that the science behind climate change is real?” Wagner asked.
“There are people on the Cabinet who are on the record,” Curbelo noted. “Secretary Mattis has called climate change a threat to our national security. Secretary Tillerson in his former capacity talked about climate change. And we know people very close to the president, even in his own family, consider this an important issue that requires attention. So we want to work with them. We want to find a healthy middle-ground. We want to promote responsible environmental policy that also contributes to economic growth and American innovation. There’s a healthy middle-ground, and that’s what these 17 Republicans here on the Hill are trying to find, and we’re willing to work with Republicans, Democrats, anyone who is willing to come to the table.”