Former Republican EPA Administrators support the Obama Climate Action Plan…

…and suggest we can do more.

On August 1, the New York Times ran an opinion piece entitled A Republican Case for Climate Action, signed by William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman[1]. The original is a great read… some excerpts:

EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.

There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”

A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington. Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress…

…Climate change puts all our progress and our successes [in the environmental arena] at risk. If we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this: When confronted by a problem, deal with it. Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done. [emphasis added]

We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.

Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.

A Republican President, Richard M. Nixon, in 1970, established EPA in the same process that created the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Another Republican President, George Herbert Walker Bush, established the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Ronald Reagan presided over the effort that gave us the Montreal Protocol that dealt with the ozone hole. And in between, Democratic presidents and their EPA administrators have maintained these initiatives and made progress on others as well. In hindsight, for this work we owe these presidents and these EPA administrators a debt of gratitude.

Which raises the question: What will our children and grandchildren, looking back, figure they owe us? A similar thanks for finishing this work our predecessors started? Or something less?

Let’s deal with the climate change problem. Let’s look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done.

Let’s be the heroes of our generation.

[1] Seven billion people can write and publish a lot of material while the rest of us have our backs turned. I missed this. Perhaps you did as well. Thanks and acknowledgment to Andy Revkin for the tweet.


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