GOP Presidential Nominees Fire Back at Brown on Climate Change Challenge

jerry-brownAfter submitting a letter-length question to Republican candidates ahead of their first round of primary-season debates, Gov. Jerry Brown has received some responses.

Heated rhetoric

Pressing ahead with the environmental emphasis characterizing his final term in office, Brown asked the presidential hopefuls to outline their own policies. “Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re […] here to stay,” he wrote, as the Sacramento Bee reported. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

Brown’s office told the Bee he submitted his question via the Facebook page of Fox News, which solicited questions from viewers of the debates, which it hosted and televised.

This month, as the San Gabriel Valley Tribute noted, Brown hit out against the field again, using a fresh report on July temperatures to lambaste “Republicans, foot-dragging corporations and other deniers.” Surveying the damage to the fire-stricken Clear Lake area, Brown “repeated his challenge to Republican presidential candidates,” the Los Angeles Times reported, warning that “California is burning” and asking, bluntly, “What the hell are you going to do about it?”

Republican responses

So far, at least three Republican candidates have touched on environmental issues in the wake of Brown’s challenges.

Not all their remarks have been directly responsive, however. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently took the opportunity to critique “radical environmental policies that stop things like dams from going in so that water … can be used effectively,”according to the Bee.

But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who had challenged Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election, both addressed Brown head on, the Bee added. While Cruz dismissed “alarmists” as power-hungry schemers, Fiorina took a more nuanced approach; although she first conceded it “may well be true” that California’s drought was worsened by climate change, she also criticized policymakers for failing to prepare for the kind of droughts the state has had “for millennia.”

Shifting opinions

Republicans on the campaign trail have broadly reflected opinions among constituents nationwide. Even in California, Republicans have demonstrated consistent skepticism toward claims that human activity has fostered dangerous alterations in temperatures and weather. In a new poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, a majority of Golden State Republicans said “they don’t believe that climate change is happening and that they don’t think it will be a serious problem in the future,” as the San Jose Mercury News reported. “They also support expanding fossil fuel production — from increasing offshore oil drilling along California’s coast to expanding fracking.”

Yet the poll evinced some wiggle room on environmental policy issues. Fully 43 percent of California Republican respondents supported stricter in-state climate rules than what the federal government has passed into law. “Californians of all parties said they support increasing tax credits for electric vehicles and solar power,” the Mercury News added.

In a recent nonpartisan poll commissioned by a water policy foundation, Californians seemed to confirm that the drought had become a leading issue of worry across the ideological spectrum. According to the Los Angeles Times, “62 percent of poll subjects said they would be very willing or somewhat willing to pay $4 more a month for water if the funds were used to improve water supply reliability. Such an increase, if applied to the entire state, would generate about a billion dollars, according to poll sponsors.”

Environmentalists divided

Brown’s environmentalist policies haven’t satisfied all critics. His administration’s emphasis on reducing emissions, for instance, has led some to wonder why he hasn’t pushed harder for cheaper electricity rates, which would benefit owners of many zero-emissions vehicles. One objection, recently voiced in the San Diego Daily Transcript, warned that Brown’s policies “will systematically shift profits into a few private hands instead of building, managing and maintaining a solid and reliable electric-charging infrastructure comparable to our utility grid.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com