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Have U.S. Republicans Shifted Strategy On Climate Change?

Judith Curry, Climate Etc.

One day after President Barack Obama unveiled a broad blueprint for reining in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and adapting U.S. infrastructure for more droughts and floods, Republicans are taking aim at the plan’s economic costs — not the science underpinning it.


There has been much discussion the past few days about President Obama’s climate change, but the one article that particularly struck me was an article inFuel Fix entitled Republicans Shift Strategy on Climate Change by Jennifer Dlouhy.  Further excerpts:

It’s a remarkable change for a political party with high-profile leaders who have declared climate change a hoax and held congressional hearings designed to amplify doubts about whether human behavior contributes to the phenomenon.

It also may be a pragmatic one. As attitudes and beliefs about climate change have shifted — and the nation’s economic woes have come to the forefront — casting Obama’s plan as a job killer and “backdoor energy tax” may be a better strategy. Those were the overwhelming messages from Republican lawmakers criticizing Obama’s climate change plan on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Our argument with the president right now is that he’s picking energy winners and losers, he’s harming innovation and there’s going to be a direct assault on jobs,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Wednesday. “There are direct economic and policy challenges to what the president decides next. There will be ramifications that will be lifelong.”

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said Obama’s approach amounted to unilaterally imposing a “national energy tax” and a “war on jobs, our economy, affordable energy, American families and small businesses.”

Asked repeatedly Wednesday to address the science of the issue, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters that while “we all want to make energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can,” Obama’s plan is nothing more than “a national energy tax.”

“The costs are real,” he said. “The benefits are unknown.”

During his speech at Georgetown University, Obama took aim at climate change skeptics. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society,” Obama said.

But Barrasso quipped Wednesday that the president should take time to talk about the “flat economy.”

JC comments: If Dlouhy’s assessment is correct, this is very good news on several fronts:

* Republicans have shifted to a more rational stance on climate change as reflected in Rep. Lamar Smith’s recent op-ed;

* The common ground seems to be that everyone wants clean, abundant, inexpensive energy and nobody wants to destroy the economy

* The political battlefield can now shift to energy economics, which is where the battle belongs (not over the science), and maybe we can come up with some cost effective, technically feasible, and politically viable solutions

* Scientists can shift their attention from religious adherence to consensus science and get on with the real work of trying to understand the dynamics of climate variability and change

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