Young Republicans Striving to Gain their Party’s Support on Climate and Energy Reform

A group of young, climate-conscious conservatives have banned together under the title Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YCER). Their strategy is worth monitoring as we all try to figure out the key to connecting with conservatives on climate. The group says they will not be pushing policy or talking science; their objective is to open the door for discussion on climate change and remove the assumption disbelief is a “litmus test for Republicans.” The YCER website also seems to avoid using the term “climate” — perhaps to avoid losing interest of those with a predetermined aversion to the term — and instead relies more on terms like “home grown energy” and “clean technology” that appeal to conservative values.

Against the Odds, Young Conservatives Buck the GOP on Energy and Climate Change
A group of young Republicans is out to persuade their party to pursue a path toward a future free of fossil fuels.

Cross-post from Inside Climate News
By Maria Gallucci

YCER founder Michele Combs testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Credit: C-Span 3.

A group of young Republicans has set out to achieve what some might say is an impossible goal: Over the next two years they’ll try to persuade their party to craft and support legislation that would reform the nation’s energy system and set a path toward a future free of fossil fuels.

“We want to show conservatives that this truly is an issue that affects us, affects our families and our businesses,” said Michele Combs, a 45-year-old legislative consultant who founded the group. (Paragraph includes correction, 09/05/2012).

The organization—Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, or YCER—joins a small but growing number of like-minded groups and individuals who hope to revive a voice that has been lost in the Republican Party, one that’s focused on curbing, not expanding, fossil fuel production. (Paragraph includes correction, 09/05/2012).

At last week’s GOP convention in Florida, the Evangelical Environment Network teamed with the Florida Wildlife Federation to buy billboard ads touting prominent Republicans’ concerns about climate change, including Ohio Governor John Kasich. In July, a group called the Energy and Enterprise Initiative was formed to bring Republicans and libertarians together to find free-market solutions to the climate change problem. Former Rep. Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Republican, is heading the initiative out of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication.

“A lot of conservatives don’t believe that there are climactic costs” to burning fossil fuels, said Alex Bozmoski, the initiative’s director of strategy and operations. “It’s only prudent to acknowledge that the continued, unabated emission of greenhouse gases poses a risk for current and especially future generations.”

YCER’s leaders have deep roots in the Republican Party. Combs, the group’s president, was a 1989 national “Young Republican of the Year,” and Brian Smith, a 32-year-old Air Force Veteran and chair of the Midwest chapter, is a former co-chair of the Young Republicans National Federation, a training ground for party leaders since 1931. Both support Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, even though his energy platform favors more fossil fuels and less environmental regulation. (Paragraph includes correction, 09/05/2012).

Combs said YCER won’t take individual Republican politicians to task for their climate change skepticism or push for specific policy solutions—at least not immediately. They also won’t make climate change science a key part of their agenda.

“Our position on climate change is that it really shouldn’t be a litmus test for Republicans,” said Smith on a call with reporters last month. “We want it to be an issue that Republicans can talk about.” (Paragraph includes correction, 09/05/2012).

Continue reading the full article here.

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