Making ‘A Republican Case for Climate Action’, Former EPA Chiefs Say The Scientific Debate Is Over

Four former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency during GOP presidencies have penned an important op-ed for the New York Times, “A Republican Case for Climate Action.”

William Ruckelshaus (1970–1973, 1983–1985), Lee Thomas (1985–1989), William Reilly (1989–1993), and Christine Whitman (2001–2003) dismiss climate deniers, warn we are risking our “livable climate,” endorse Obama’s climate plan, and call for even more action from their fellow Republicans:

There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”


The former EPA administrators make clear that while this has become a partisan issue, it shouldn’t be:

We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally….

We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.

They say that “the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions” would be a “market-based approach, like a carbon tax” but realize “that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington.” And so they embrace the next best alternative:

Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.

It is heartening to see such blunt, sensible comments from some of the most credible Republican experts on the environment. The former EPA chiefs close with a powerful scientific warning aimed directly at the do-nothing crowd:

Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.