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TN Members Missing from Bipartisan Climate Caucus

A congressional panel tasked with coming up with climate-change solutions is growing in membership. (Roman Boed/Flickr)
A congressional panel tasked with coming up with climate-change solutions is growing in membership. (Roman Boed/Flickr)
August 30, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A panel made up of members of Congress who are seeking solutions to climate change is growing quickly.

The Climate Solutions Caucus started with just a handful of members a few years ago, but now has 50. It's bipartisan, and for every Democratic member added, there must also be a new Republican.

Steve Valk, communications director for Citizens' Climate Lobby, said 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 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," Valk said. "We go in and tell them what we actually like about things they have done, and then from there we have a conversation with them to find the common ground."

Valk said the goal is to have the panel come together and draft major legislation to preserve the environment for many generations. So far, no members of Tennessee's congressional delegation have joined the caucus.

Valk said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are responding to the increasing number of Americans who want something done about climate change.

"Their constituents are concerned about this and they want their representatives to be proactive on this," he said, "and this is a way for them to demonstrate that they're willing to start the wheels in motion to get something done."

Valk said he thinks that 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," Valk said, "and so they're a little hesitant to step up until it's demonstrated to them that they have support in their districts."

This summer, with the help of 46 Republicans, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated an amendment to a Defense Department authorization bill that would have blocked a study on the impact climate change is having on national security. Valk gave credit to the members of the Climate Solutions Caucus who voted in favor of the study.

More information is available online at citizensclimatelobby.org.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN