Tuesday’s election of former Gov. Mark Sanford to the House of Representatives in South Carolina raises a crucial climate change question. Will Sanford, like so many other Republican politicians, flip-flop on his acceptance of human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change in the face of the Tea Party.
Sanford, who was a member of the House of Representatives before becoming the Governor of South Carolina, has made a stunning comeback, after having had to resign as Governor following well-publicized disgraceful conduct. He even lost the support of the Republican Party after further disgraces were exposed during the election. He won the election, with the support of of the Tea Party Express, beating Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
In the past Sanford has acknowledged anthropogenic climate change, and proposed conservative market-based approaches to the problem.
Six years ago he penned an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for action on climate change. In that writing he talked of the pain of watching “once-thriving pine trees die in that fragile zone between uplands and salt marshes” and that “I believe human activity is having a measurable effect on the environment.” He equated this with a loss of “rights and freedoms because of the actions of other” because of harms to the environment, air quality, water quality, and even higher insurance costs, all because others are polluting the environment.
Pointing to Al Gores success at getting attention on climate and environmental issues, he warned that increased government intervention, such as regulations banning incandescent light bulbs, would limit freedom.
The approach he wrote of, 6 years ago, would be to frame Conservative principles to the purpose of environmental protection. For example, Stewardship means taking care of the world we’ve been given.
However, the party line today within Republican politics is to deny climate change, deny any responsibility for environmental quality. The focus is on the supposed damage to business that would result from taking action on climate and the environment.
Is Rep. Mark Sanford interested in integrity? If so, he’ll stand by his stance on climate change. If not, he’ll flip-flop like so many others.
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