Climate Change: Does Your Congressperson Represent Your Views?

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko

Various versions appeared:
Dana Point Times, 31-Jul, 2017
Fullerton Observer
, Early Apr, 2017, p.12
Escondido Grapevine, 04 Apr, 2017
The Coronado Times, 04 Apr, 2017
San Diego Free Press, 05 Apr, 2017
Times of San Diego, 11-Apr, 2017
EarthTalk.org, 17-Apr, 2017
San Clemente Times, 20-Apr, 2017
Capistrano Dispatch, 24-Apr, 2017 

Source: USEPA

Within moments of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the White House web page on climate change was purged, and on March 28 Trump ordered the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan which was designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Many members of Congress are still openly climate change skeptics or deniers.

In a representative democracy such as ours, one might conclude that most Americans don’t believe in or are unconcerned about climate change. Two recent polls reveal how wrong this is.

Seventy percent of Americans believe global warming is happening, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication which used a national survey of over 18,000 adults spanning 2008 to 2016. Fully 75% favor regulating CO2 as a pollutant.

Consistent with this, 62% of Americans responded “no” when asked if President Trump should “remove specific regulation intended to combat climate change” in a nationwide poll just released on March 8 by Quinnipiac University. Furthermore, a Yale Project post-election poll of Trump voters found that more than six in ten support taxing and/or regulating the pollution that causes global warming.

An obvious next question is whether these national averages are masking major state-to-state variations in public opinion. The answer is no. The Yale Project concluded that in all 50 states a solid majority of the public both believe global warming is happening (between 60% and 78%) and favor regulating CO2 as a pollutant (66%-81%). Majorities in every state also believe global warming will harm future generations.

Clearly, Americans are concerned about climate change and want their government to take action. If majorities in Congress are hearing this, there’s little evidence.

In fact, the Stopping EPA Overreach Act (H.R.637) introduced in January, with 121 signatories, is blatantly designed to block any national action on climate change. It amends the Clean Air Act to exclude CO2 from regulation and specifically nullifies any existing laws aimed at addressing global warming.

People living here in Orange County closely mirror the nation as a whole in opinions on climate change. The Yale Project found that large majorities in all six congressional districts believe climate change is happening (70-77%) and want CO2 regulated as a pollutant (74-76%). It should be surprising then to learn that the range of positions our House representatives have taken on climate change runs the gamut.

Alan Lowenthal (D-47) has posted an ardent plea to take on climate change on his website, placing him at one end of the spectrum.

1/3 of U.S. CO2 emissions come from power plants (Source: USEPA)

At the other end, it’s difficult to discern which of the Republican representatives is most extreme. In the last Congress for example, all four – Darrell Issa (49-R), Dana Rohrabacher (48-R), Ed Royce (39-R) and Mimi Walters (45-R) – voted in favor of repealing the rule establishing limits on CO2 emissions from power plants as set by the Clean Power Plan (S.J.Res.24). Walters is currently cosponsoring the Stopping EPA Overreach Act, and both she and Rohrabacher cosponsored an identical bill in the last Congress.

However, Issa, long an outspoken skeptic of governmental initiatives to slow global warming, might be shifting position following a razor thin win to retain his seat last November. He just joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, a nascent and growing bipartisan coalition of now 36 House members dedicated to solving climate change.

Of note, none of Orange County’s four Republican representatives were among the 17 co-sponsors of an all-Republican resolution introduced on March 15 calling for action on climate change.

The 6th representative, Lou Correa (46-D,) just joined the House in January, so it’s too soon to guess how he’ll vote on climate change legislation.

It’s deeply troubling that some of our representatives are so out of step with their constituents on climate change.  Are they genuinely clueless about what their constituents think, or do they just not care?  Either is unacceptable.

If you live outside Orange County, visit the Yale Project’s user friendly interactive maps to learn how people in your congressional district view issues about climate change.

2 Responses to Climate Change: Does Your Congressperson Represent Your Views?

  1. Dix Henneke says:

    Thank you for the information, Steve! Important reminder to express our views to our elected representatives.

  2. Linda Nicholes says:

    Disheartening to say the least. It’s too bad that those four Southern California reps apparently do not understand that tackling climate change represents one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st Century.

    Congratulations on another well-written article, Steve!

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