WASHINGTON, D.C. — "Climate change is real. Humans contribute."
So said Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who represents Northwest Florida in Congress, in a recent post on Twitter.
And he's backing up that view in a resolution he's preparing to bring to the House of Representatives, pushing for a "Green Real Deal" — a market-driven approach to creating more clean-energy options and innovation across the United States.
The resolution, a draft copy of which was obtained by the Politico political news website, will be formally filed within days, Gaetz said in a Friday interview.
The move is a clear partisan counterpoint to the "Green New Deal" proposed by freshman Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a sweeping initiative that called for a 10-year program to transition the United States to a 100-percent renewable clean energy infrastructure. Beyond that, the "Green New Deal" ventured into calling for health care and a guaranteed job with a living wage for all Americans.
In the same Twitter post where he acknowledged climate change, Gaetz went on to note, "Democrats put forward their radical plan — its (sic) time Republicans introduce a plan that encourages real solutions through innovation, not regulation."
Ocasio-Cortez's proposal failed to get much legislative traction, even among Democrats, and floundered in the Senate earlier this week. But her approach nonetheless rankled Gaetz, who said, "I'm not willing to sacrifice the American economy at the altar of Ocasio-Cortez's 'virtue signaling.'"
Asked whether he worries that his acknowledgement of climate change might put him at odds with the conservative voters who put him in office, Gaetz said, "I would hope all Northwest Floridians would be open to the science."
"I embrace the science," Gaetz continued, adding that policymakers can embrace "a common science" while working out different possible responses to climate change.
"I don't want to argue the science anymore," Gaetz said. "I come from the pro-science wing of the Republican Party," he added, noting his work in the state legislature, and in Congress, on medical marijuana issues.
On the second of its five pages, the resolution notes that "thirteen United States government agencies ... have found that (c)limate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life and the rate of economic growth ... ."
The proposed resolution contends that while government, businesses and communities "are working to reduce risks from — and costs associated with — climate change ... ," those efforts "do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades ... ."
The resolution seeks to declare the "sense of the House of Representatives" that a "Green Real Deal" is needed to, among other things, reduce and modernize government regulations "so that clean energy technologies can be deployed" and "to empower individuals, states and the marketplace to act, invest, and implement the cleanest, lowest-emitting technologies available."
The congressman rejected the suggestion that his proposed resolution was simply a political swipe at Ocasio-Cortez.
"These are substantive ideas," he said. Among the resolution's concrete proposals are calls for modernizing the nation's electrical grid, implementing tax incentives for homeowners who upgrade the energy efficiency of their residences, and working with utility companies and property developers for "realistic and consumer-friendly adoption of renewable energy including solar, wind and geothermal ... ."
In particular, Gaetz said he would like to see federal lands opened up for energy development, particularly in the solar and hydropower arenas.
"I see federal lands as an incredible canvas ... for innovation for tomorrow's technologies," he said.