Guest Column

Tim McFarren: I’m a conservative, and I want to see more action on climate

Like many conservatives, I have a long list of issues I want Congress to address, but few are more urgent to me than the need to combat climate change.

For some, my passion for this topic will come as a surprise. Often, the most vociferous voices on climate change are left-of-center, and there is a common falsehood that conservatives do not care about climate. That is simply not true, and as part of the “silent majority” we must address this misconception.

As Utah’s representative John Curtis said in an interview recently, “Republicans for too long have told everyone what we don’t like. Now it’s important for us to articulate what we do like.”

Curtis is correct that climate-concerned conservatives must be vocal about the common-sense solutions we know can cut emissions and boost clean domestic energy. Otherwise, how do we ensure that policies that avoid big government overreach and make the U.S. economically competitive are brought to the table?

Our congressman, Mark Amodei, has acknowledged “that we need to promote policies that protect and preserve our environment for future generations.” Amodei is a member of the Conservative Climate Caucus and the Climate Solutions Caucus. Both of which “aim to find sound environmental policy to reduce emissions and foster a cleaner environment for all.” Amodei is on the right track here.

Like many Northern Nevadans, I have observed the growing frequency of extreme weather incidents. Just this summer, we have seen record heat events, record floods, catastrophic wildfires. I don’t know about you, but these things are starting to scare me. Climate disasters reached $115 billion in insured losses in 2022. Those costs are deeply concerning for anyone who values fiscal responsibility.

As a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, I have been motivated by my conservative values to advocate for less pollution and a stable climate. I was raised to respect and protect our natural resources, and I feel a duty to leave the earth better than we found it for future generations.

Our modern lives wouldn’t be possible without fossil fuels, and we can be grateful for that. But with cleaner energy options that do not add to carbon pollution and alter our climate, it’s time to transition in a way that powers America forward rather than dragging it backward. Nevada has the ability to lead the country in solar, wind and geothermal clean energy.

Conservatives can lead this shift with free-market solutions that boost the economy and bring good-paying clean energy jobs to Nevada. A well-executed clean energy transition can strengthen American manufacturing as the continued build-out of renewables attracts billions of dollars to our state. Many red states will benefit also, including our neighbor Utah.

In Nevada, we are already seeing how climate innovation, done the right way, can lead to lucrative investments, lower energy bills, and good jobs. Since August 2022, Nevada companies and investors have announced over 7 billion dollars in new investments into multiple new clean energy projects. This is expected to create more than 7,000 good paying jobs.

Nevada has the largest reserve of lithium in the country. If we can get the Thacker and Rhyolite Ridge mines permitted and up and running, Nevada will also lead the country in lithium production. Nevada knows how to mine precious metals and has been doing so since the 1850s. Clean domestic energy is also crucial for national security.

The U.S. and our allies are better off when we can’t be bullied by oil countries with a stranglehold over global energy prices. Boosting and strengthening our domestic output is good for local prices and global stability.

Likewise, our nation's ranchers and farmers should be protected from the disruption of climate change-exacerbated drought, floods, and storms. Let’s support ranchers and farmers with solutions that improve, protect, and restore the soil that nourishes America.

Amodei can do a lot to ensure conservative climate solutions work for Nevada residents, but it is our job to let him know it is a constituent priority.

It is my hope fellow conservatives will also be moved to take action. Together, we can ensure that the energy we use to power our economy results in a healthier, cleaner, safer America.

Tim McFarren is a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.


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