Respected GOP Leaders Support Obama's Climate Action Plan

Four Republican leaders who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under four Republican presidents have declared their support for President Obama’s climate action plan. Writing in a joint opinion piece in the New York Times on Friday, William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman said:

“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.”

Like mayors, military leaders, business executives, and health professionals from across the country, these EPA administrators recognize that the damage done by climate change does not observe party lines. It threatens all Americans with extreme weather and economic burden. From heat waves to drought, damaged property to lost business, we all pay a price no matter where we live or how we vote: The government spent nearly $100 billion to respond to extreme weather events last year. That’s more than $1,100 per average US taxpayer.

“The costs of inaction are undeniable,” the former administrators wrote. “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.”

To prevent that fate, President Obama has announced a common-sense plan that will reduce carbon pollution from power plants—the nation’s largest source of carbon emissions--and promote energy efficiency and renewable power. NRDC’s experts outlined a similar approach, and we concluded it would cut carbon pollution 26 percent by 2020 and save people money on electricity bills. It will also help put Americans to work. Carbon pollution standards alone would create a net increase of 210,000 jobs in 2020.

The four administrators said cutting power plant carbon emissions and expanding clean energy technology is “inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.”

Many states have already started moving down this path. Nine Northeastern states—including some under the guidance of Republican governors—have established a regional carbon limit that has cut power-plant carbon by 30 percent and resulted in measures that will save consumers $1.3 billion on energy bills. Nearly 30 states—including both red and blue—have created renewable energy standards that helped wind power account for nearly half of all new installed energy capacity and created more than 200,000 jobs in the wind and solar industries.  

It is time for America to build on this progress and tackle climate change as a nation. Without this common cause, our children and grandchildren would be left to cope with the devastating consequences of unchecked climate change. We can’t pass this burden on to them, especially when we can already see what climate disruption can do to people’s lives. We must rise above political differences to face this challenge together. And we must act now.

The four Republican administrators supporting President Obama’s climate plan are helping to point the way. They wrote, “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.”

About the Authors

Frances Beinecke

Former President

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