A Republican lawmaker who believes in climate change and is out to convert his party brought his message to Crawfordsville on Wednesday.
Bob Inglis, a former member of Congress from South Carolina and executive director of RepublicEn, a conservative organization working to address climate change issues with market-oriented solutions, spoke to a small noon-time crowd at the Fusion 54 building. His visit was sponsored by the mayor’s office.
“We think that a place like Crawfordsville is a head turner,” he said. “A city that is so interesting that goes from 40% coal-fired to over 50% solar is pretty amazing. And you’re turning it into the goose that laid the golden egg, attracting companies that say they want to be located near that solar farm. That’s really smart stuff and it’s the future.”
Inglis said if more people knew this was happening in the heartland, then it would seem a little less like the liberal coasts telling everyone what to do.
Inglis said that after a decade dominated by Republican climate denial, a growing number of conservatives are now willing to acknowledge the problem and start discussing solutions.
The former Congressman pointed to a research study that found Republicans — not Democrats or even climate scientists — were more effective in persuading doubters to give up their climate change skepticism. Inglis said it because Republicans are perceived as more believable on the issue because they are willing to find practical solutions.
For Inglis, the practical solution to climate change is to put a tax on carbon. He believes regulating emissions and offering incentives for clean energy are part of the solution. However, those approaches can only do so much because they can’t be applied worldwide. So, instead Inglis believes supports instituting a carbon tax.
“The carbon tax is a special tax, one that is revenue neutral,” he said. “Which means you cut taxes somewhere else or you dividend all the money back from the carbon tax to the citizenry and there’s no growth of government.”
To address climate change, Inglis would apply the carbon tax on all goods entering the United States from countries that don’t have a carbon tax.
“So the rest of the world wants access to the American market, they all want to sell us stuff because we are wealthy here,” Inglis said. “If we tax on the content of the goods when they enter the country, then China very quickly would follow our lead.”
Inglis acknowledged that a carbon tax would cause prices to rise, which becomes a tricky political situation. However, he believes if the government cut taxes somewhere else, then that hike would be offset.
“That’s the difficult thing there, many people don’t believe that will happen,” he said. “ And that’s quite a challenge for us.”
Inglis believes cutting the federal income or payroll tax would offset the implementation of a carbon tax, and would improve the economy along with the planet.
“We all need to understand that we are in this together,” he said.
RepublicEN distributes online newsletters and urges its members to discuss climate change and the benefits of that would come from putting a price on carbon.
To learn more, visit republicen.org.