Republican congressman leads climate change talks

Sep 23, 2013

Former U.S. Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina was in Utah last week trying to garner support for policies tackling climate change.

Former congressman Bob Inglis heads the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a campaign he started in 2012. According to its website, the initiative strives to address climate change and environmental issues by, quote, “embracing solutions that are true to conservative principles,” unquote.


Inglis, a Republican, proposed a carbon taxing model to Utah legislators on Wednesday. He believes such a tax could help reduce carbon emissions and ease the current reliance on the income tax.

"It’s the best idea I came upon when I was in congress," said Inglis, " so I’m going to try to see it through to completion, even though I got tossed out of congress. And I guess maybe I want to settle the score. If I’m going to be real honest about it, maybe I want to prove that, by golly, this will work. In a way, I’m freer now to work on it than I was in congress."

Inglis believes there’s a moral imperative to addressing issues such as car emissions, but doing so, he says, could also be economically beneficial.

"When we’re being fully accountable—biblically accountable, really—for those emissions, then innovation will come rapidly because there will be people making money serving my need by selling me the better car," he said.

The former congressman perceives a lack of urgency on the issue, suspecting that many people aren’t yet worried about climate change.

"It is a challenge to get this up the list of priorities because people are focused right now on jobs and the economy and they’re not focused on what seems long-term here but really aren’t that long-term," he added. "It’s sort of like Social Security. If you talk to the actuaries about Social Security, they’re apoplectic about survival of the system. But my mom and dad, they’re not really worried. The checks are still coming. If the checks stop coming, my mom and dad would be very aware of the problem."

Inglis also spoke to the public at Westminster College in Salt Lake City later Wednesday night. This week, he takes his message to Michigan, a state known for its auto industry.

For Utah Public Radio, I’m Ryan Cunningham.