Contrary to the declarations and actions of President Trump, Americans everywhere want their government to tackle climate change. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, a remarkable national survey spanning 8 years and covering over 18,000 adults, found that in all 50 states a solid majority of the public believes global warming is happening (60 percent to 78 percent), and favors regulating CO2 as a pollutant (66 percent to 81 percent).
Here in California, 75 percent of us believe global warming is happening, and 77 percent want the government to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.
A nationwide breakdown by individual Congressional Districts revealed a similar pattern of opinions, even in historically conservative areas like Orange County. Irvine is the largest city in California’s 45th Congressional District (CD) which also includes Tustin, North Tustin, Villa Park, Orange, Anaheim Hills, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Rancho Margarita and Mission Viejo. House Republican Mimi Walters has represented the 45th CD since 2015. Of people living in Walters’ District, 71 percent believe climate change is happening, and 74 percent want CO2 regulated as a pollutant, according to the Yale Project.
Walters votes against actions to combat climate change
In a representative democracy we should expect Rep. Walters to assume a stance on climate change that generally reflects the opinions of the majority of her constituents. The plain fact is that in word and deed she has failed to represent the people of the 45th CD.
In the last Congress, Walters voted in favor of repealing the rule establishing limits on CO2 emissions from power plants, as set by Obama’s Clean Power Plan (Senate Joint Resolutions 23 & 24). Three other Republicans also representing districts in Orange County voted with Walters to repeal the rule: Darrell Issa (49th CD), Dana Rohrabacher (48th CD) and Ed Royce (39th CD).
Worse still, Walters is currently co-sponsoring the Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017 (House Resolutions 637) which is blatantly designed to block any national action on climate change. It amends the Clean Air Act to exclude CO2 from regulation, and specifically nullifies any existing laws aimed at addressing global warming. Walters also co-sponsored an identical bill in the last Congress.
What Walters should do
Instead of actively thwarting the will of her constituents, Rep. Mimi Walters should be seizing new opportunities in the House that signal a long-overdue shift in the Republican Party — away from an intransigent stance against addressing climate change, and toward policies that acknowledge the magnitude of the problem and the need for bipartisan solutions.
Walters should follow the lead of fellow Orange County House Republicans Darrell Issa and Ed Royce who recently joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, a nascent and growing bipartisan coalition of more than 50 House members (evenly split between Republicans and Democrats) dedicated to addressing the climate change crisis.
Next, Walters should also step up and co-sponsor a first-ever all-Republican House Resolution introduced on March 15th calling for action on climate change.
Walters scrambles to overcome her unpopular position
With the 2018 mid-term election looming, Walters seems to be scrambling to at least appear to be responsive to the massive public protests of her deplorable record on climate change. On July 13th, she voted with 45 other Republicans and every House Democrat to successfully block an extremist Republican amendment to an appropriations bill that would have stripped funding for the Defense Department to prepare for the impending damage to military bases as a result of climate change.
Previously in April, Walters posted a picture on her Facebook page of herself posing with representatives from the local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), thanking them for the information they provided about climate change solutions. CCL lobbies House members nationwide to enact a national tax on carbon with the collections returned to every American household.
Climate change is the most serious environmental problem humankind has ever faced. It’s deeply troubling that some of our representatives can be so out-of-step with their constituents on climate change. Are they genuinely clueless about what their constituents think, or do they just not care? Either is unacceptable.