Two Capital Region members of Congress last week co-sponsored a resolution offered by a small group of Republican legislators calling for using "American innovation" to fight the threat of climate change.
The resolution was co-sponsored by 17 House Republicans, including U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and freshman legislator John Faso, R-Kinderhook.
Such a resolution sponsored by Republicans would go against the thinking within the Trump administration. President Donald J. Trump last year called man-caused climate warming a "hoax," and he named a denier of climate change as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, the government's lead agency on environmental issues. Trump's proposed federal budget would slash alternative energy research spending.
The resolution calls for the House of Representatives to work toward "economically viable solutions" that address climate change, calling on "American ingenuity, innovation and exceptionalism" and citing the "conservative principle to protect, conserve and be good stewards of our environment."
The sponsors are a small group among the 237 Republicans in the House of Representatives. None of the co-sponsors are from the Midwest, where fossil fuels are widely used to produce electricity, or the major fossil-energy producing states.
"Clean energy innovation is key to addressing the serious issue of climate change," said Stefanik, who represents the 21st Congressional District covering the North Country, from Fulton and Saratoga counties to the Canadian border. "This resolution brings together the priority of addressing the risks of climate change with the importance of protecting and creating American jobs."
Stefanik also spoke briefly on the House floor last Thursday while introducing the resolution, citing the environmental sensitivity of the North Country, where the Adirondacks for decades have felt the effects of acid rain, mercury and other emissions from fossil fuel power plants in the Ohio Valley and Midwest.
“This resolution addresses the real impacts of man-made climate change and emphasizes the need to develop and create jobs with the goal of protecting our environment,” Faso said in a statement. “It’s critical that we work together to develop smart solutions that will conserve our natural resources and protect our communities and infrastructure for future generations.”
The resolution has been welcomed by groups whose concerns about climate change have often been dismissed by Republicans in the past.
"I'm heartened to see Republican House members introduce a resolution committing Congress to address climate change and base its policy decisions on science and quantifiable facts," said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Most Democratic lawmakers, as well as groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, point to increases in extreme weather — including flooding, droughts and wildfires — as among the problems linked to climate change that could significantly increase the future cost of government.