The Republican Climate Closet

We are, at long last, starting to see some Republicans inch their way out of the closet: a toe here, a foot there, followed by some carefully hedged statement hinting that the United States government might actually need a climate policy.

My favorite case is that of John Barrasso, the powerful senator from Wyoming, a state heavily dependent on coal mining. He long used his influence to block climate legislation, and only two years ago he received an award from the Heartland Institute, which does its best to deceive the public about the climate problem.

This year, he has come out as an advocate for climate action. And he is not just talking: He is shepherding a transportation infrastructure bill through the Senate that would, for the first time, recognize the need to limit emissions from cars and trucks, authorizing $10 billion in programs for that purpose. If it passes in its current form, that bill will be a milestone.

What this whole trend really tells us is that the Republicans — some of them, at least — are starting to sense political risk in continued climate denial. Their constituents, battered by the fires and torrential rains and the incessant rise of tidal flooding, are knocking on the closet door.

Frank Luntz, the pollster who wrote a scurrilous memorandum 17 years ago counseling Republicans to obfuscate the science of climate change, is among those who have come around. 

Read More At The New York Times

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