WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, suggested this week that he might be willing to support climate change legislation.
During a House oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Meadows accused former Secretary of State and onetime Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry for politicizing climate change.
But while he excoriated Kerry for his approach to the issue, Meadows mentioned that his staff was considering the merits of a carbon tax — a climate change policy that has long had bipartisan support.
“Mr. Secretary, I am one of the few people here that … is more predisposed perhaps to your message than most on my side of the aisle,” Meadows told Kerry.
“I was a wind, solar and geothermal expert for an electric utility many years ago, back when the Department of Energy actually started. I have people on my staff that are looking at a carbon tax and a number of issues.”
That may come as a surprise to some, given Meadows’ past reluctance to back climate policies.
When President Obama announced the Paris climate agreement in 2016, Meadows issued a statement saying, “With the Paris Climate Agreement, this administration is throwing away significant gains made in our country’s energy sector and handcuffing the American economy and job creators to burdensome regulations that will hurt, not help, American workers.”
He added, “The American people are tired of watching our government hamstring the economy and burden U.S. businesses in a fruitless pursuit of climate change goals that are both ineffective and unenforceable globally.”
Meadows has a 1 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, and scored zero percent in 2018.
Meadows’ office did not respond to a request for comment about what sort of climate change policy he might be open to.
Still, Meadows told Kerry on Tuesday, “There is no doubt that human contributions have attributed to greenhouse gases.”
The North Carolina Republican also told Roll Call in February, “I think that greenhouse gas emissions is certainly something that we need to look at.”
Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Newsroom network, of which Policy Watch is a member.