MN Congressman Joins Bipartisan Climate Caucus
Carol McCarthy | Aug 29, 2017 AT 7:26 am
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A panel made up of members of Congress seeking solutions to climate change is growing. The Climate Solutions Caucus, which is part of the Climate Solutions Lobby, started with just a handful of members a few years ago, but now has 50 - including Rep. Rick Nolan, the first Minnesotan on the caucus.
Steve Valk is the communications director for the Lobby and says the goal is to have discussions about climate change with no acrimony. The Lobby has 370 chapters across the country and volunteers work to recruit new congressional members by telling them it's a "safe place" to have conversations and to come up with possible solutions.
"We don't go in and tell people what we don't like about what they've said or done," he says. "We actually go in and tell them what we actually like about things they have done. And then from there, we actually have a conversation with them to find the common ground."
Valk says the goal is to have the panel come together and draft major legislation to preserve the environment for many generations. It's bipartisan, and for every Democratic member added, there must also be a new Republican. Congressman Nolan recruited Republican David Joyce of Ohio. Both want to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - a program that would all but disappear under President Donald Trump's spending plan.
Valk says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are responding to the increasing number of Americans who want something done about climate change.
"And their constituents are concerned about this, and they want their representatives to be proactive on this," he adds. "And this is a way for them to demonstrate that they're willing to start the wheels in motion to get something done."
Valk thinks despite climate-change deniers in the Trump administration, many Republicans understand the science and know carbon pollution is a big problem, but aren't always admitting it in public.
"They want to do something, but they also want to keep their seats in Congress, and so they're a little hesitant to step up until it's demonstrated to them that they have support in their districts," he explains.
This summer, with the help of 46 Republicans, the U.S. House defeated an amendment to a Defense Department bill that would have blocked a study on the impact of climate change on national security. Valk gives credit to the members of the Climate Solutions Caucus who voted in favor of the study.