Sunday, April 16, 2017

Changing Rep. Dan Newhouse's Votes on Climate Change

Look, we don't really care so much about changing our representative's "mind," as we do about changing his/her votes to more closely conform to our position on the issues. Take Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA4), for example. Those of us concerned with climate change want him to sponsor, co-sponsor, or otherwise support and vote for legislation addressing the mitigation of climate change. Principally, we want him to support legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

How do we accomplish this end?

Education: We could try educating Mr. Newhouse about how the climate is changing, why the climate is changing, what the impacts and costs of climate change are, and how we can reduce GHG emissions without harming the economy. This requires a science lesson, an economics lesson, and a policy lesson. Generally legislators don't like being lectured to, don't have time to dive into climate science (or any other science, for that matter), and aren't necessarily swayed by scientific facts so much as electoral facts.

Political Will: "Political will" is the watch word of the Citizens' Climate Lobby. The CCL would have us work to educate voters in the 4th Congressional District -- Mr. Newhouse's constituency -- and convince them that climate change tops their agenda of issues, such as family-wage jobs, budget deficits, the Second Amendment, abortion, etc. Then encourage them to convey their concerns about climate change to Mr. Newhouse, demonstrating the political will for action. Almost sixty percent of voters in Mr. Newhouse's district voted for Donald Trump. That should tell you what you need to know about the prospects for this strategy.

Leverage: We can find ways to convince Mr. Newhouse's main campaign contributors -- agribusiness -- that climate change will hurt their profits and that Mr. Newhouse should help them avoid that. We can liaise with agribusiness organizations, such as the Washington Farm Bureau (WFB), to update them on climate change developments, and to offer expertise on dealing with them. We can work through these organizations to put pressure on Mr. Newhouse to join the House Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus so that he is able to represent Columbia Basin circumstances and needs in D.C. policy making. This will be difficult. The WFB "includes more than 46,000 member families" and is the state's largest general farm organization representing farmers and ranchers. The WFB's 2017 Policy Book demonstrates that the WFB wants no truck with climate change whatsoever. The paragraphs dealing with it are shown in the figure below (click to enlarge). Note particularly Par. 66. If we are going to change the WFB's views on climate change, we'd do well to start with future farmers -- the FFA -- who are having their 87th State Convention, May 11 - 13, 2017, at WSU.

Washington Farm Bureau 2017 Policy Book
What's Growing in Washington?
By-Pass: We can work around Mr. Newhouse at the state level through the initiative process, as we did with I-732, the CarbonWA-led carbon tax initiative. We must be better at uniting the environmental community to make this work (the public split between the "save the planet" faction, and the "social justice" faction, doomed the bill). A promising initiative program is another form of leverage. Getting a carbon tax passed at the national level in the current Republican-dominated climate (no pun intended) will be near impossible, despite the promise of the Climate Leadership Council, and the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. Another pass at a state solution is more plausible.
U.S. House Climate Solutions Caucus
Replace: We can identify a viable candidate who accepts climate change science, democrat or republican, to run against Mr. Newhouse in the 2018 Election and again in the 2020 Election, and again in the 2022 Election, and so on ad-infinitum, if necessary. This is another form of leverage, and by far the most effective.

These options aren't all mutually exclusive, and can be worked more or less simultaneously, but knowing where to allocate one's limited resources is important. My predisposition at this time, would be to concentrate on by-pass and replace.