Brazos GOP chair says addressing climate change could make economic sense

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - A growing number of young American conservatives are concerned about the damage humans are causing the planet, according to a new study by Glocialites.

According to the study, the number of Republicans who said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement “I worry about the damage humans cause the planet” rose by 11 percentage points in five years to 58 percent. For Republicans 18-34, that number is 67 percent.

David Hillburn, chair of the Republican Party of Brazos County, says these conversations aren’t much happening within the local conservative community, but he is open to them and thinks his fellow Republicans might be, too.

“When you think of what the Republican Party stands for—the free market system and personal responsibility, taking care of yourself, cleaning up after yourself when there are problems—and more importantly, if the money is there and the money is right, seize it,” said Hillburn.

Hillburn is referring to free-market, limited government solutions, and that’s the same idea as the American Conservation Coalition (ACC). The ACC is a non-profit made up of conservatives, mostly young, who work with businesses and occasionally lawmakers to advocate for environmentalist issues.

“In recent years, there’s been a bit of a disconnect between conservatism and environmentalism,” said Quill Robinson with the ACC. “But if you look at the history of the Republican Party—Teddy Roosevelt founding the National Parks, Ronald Reagan and the Montreal Protocol—there’s a long history.”

For Robinson, party self-preservation is part of the conversation.

“I think more recently, conservatives are seeing that it’s in the interest of the Republican Party to talk about these issues,” said Robinson, he says because millennial GOP voters “want the party to do more.”
So what are those “free market, limited government solutions”?

“There are companies that are taking the lead because of consumer pressure, and we’re seeing that actually happen a lot faster than perhaps larger government regulations like the Green New Deal,” said Robinson. “We actually see it as the most effective, efficient way to address an issue like climate change by doing it on a state level and by having companies lead rather than waiting for Congress to decide that they’re going to work together on this issue.”

Hillburn says that although the conversation can get complicated here locally, particularly with the oil and gas industry, he is willing to try.

“When you think of some of the groups that work with hunting, cleaning up land,” said Hillburn. “If you were to talk to some of these oil companies—what can you do when you leave an oil field…to help but that back in the place that we found it?”

The full conversations with Hillburn and Robinson are in the video player above.