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Viewpoint: Lewis should join 'Noah's Ark' caucus

Tim Reckmeyer lives in Prior Lake, Minn., with his wife and two daughters where he volunteers his time leading a chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby. You can reach him at: scottcounty@citizensclimatelobby.org.

It's not your imagination. Even with the recent weather, Minnesota winters just aren't what they used to be.

Society's collective use of dirty energy has warmed Minnesota winters an average of almost 6 degrees since 1970, which effectively makes Minnesota's winters shorter and less intense.

While that might sound good at first, especially to this imported Arizonan, it comes with consequences for winter recreation, businesses and our health.

In colder climates, winter-based recreational activities such as skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling are less prevalent. This impacts local businesses and kids that just want to play pond hockey throughout winter.

The frequency of Lyme disease in Minnesota is increasing because more disease-carrying insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, survive milder winters. Allergy season is already 21 days longer than it was in 1995 and pollen counts are rising, which can trigger respiratory illnesses for allergy sufferers. This has deadly implications for children and the elderly.

Take action

The most important actions we can take are to support smart pro-growth economic policies that reduce our energy waste and fully embrace clean energy to power our modern world. Doing so will stabilize our climate and winters, reduce the risks of further damage to our economy and immediately provide better health via cleaner air and water.

These policies would help steer America toward a path of more durable economic growth by encouraging technological innovation and large-scale substitution of existing energy sources. Policies that would also provide much-needed regulatory relief to U.S. industries. Companies, especially those in the energy sector, finally would have the predictability they now lack, removing one of the most serious impediments to capital investment.

Perhaps most important, there are policies that speak to the increasing frustration and economic insecurity experienced by many working-class Americans. These policies would elevate the fortunes of frustrated Americans by generating millions of jobs. Many working-class Minnesotans will find high-wage work producing locally made energy that cannot be outsourced to other countries.

Simply put, these policies are pro-economic growth, pro-jobs, pro-competitiveness and great for working class Americans.

Political change

The problem is that right now, America's de-facto energy policy is the socialization of pollution from dirty energy and Republican leadership, until very recently, has been missing. Thankfully, this is quickly changing.

President Trump recognized the risks of rising seas from a warming world to his golf course and requested permission from Ireland to build a sea wall. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during his confirmation hearings, spoke about free market policies that can avoid climate risk. In mid-February, seminal leaders of the Reagan coalition such as former secretaries of state George Schultz and James Baker III began speaking out on solutions that will modernize our energy systems while simultaneously growing our economy and increasing our competitiveness with China and India in the clean-energy race.

The timing of these Republican leaders speaking out couldn't be better because volunteers with Citizens' Climate Lobby have worked with members of Congress to establish the Climate Solutions Caucus, otherwise known as the "Noah's Ark" caucus. It is aptly named this because to join the caucus you must bring a member from across the political aisle with you. Per documents filed with the Committee on House Administration, "The Caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation's economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety."

Today there are 14 Republicans and 14 Democrats in the caucus and it's expected to grow, two by two, in the coming months. These politicians represent 15 states and include Republicans from Illinois, Nebraska and Utah.

Minnesota is not represented — yet.

Minnesotans currently carry the burden of socialized pollution, and the very real costs associated with it. With the right leadership, that can change. There are four chapters of CCL volunteers in Congressman Jason Lewis's district, and we represent a broad political coalition of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents. We encourage Lewis to find a Democrat colleague and join the Climate Solutions Caucus.

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