Rep. David Jolly says he's 'sick and tired' of GOP position on climate change
It was something few Republicans say and the crowd in Tampa ate it up, some standing to applaud.
“I’m going to tell you something you rarely hear a member of Congress say: I think the climate’s changing. I think man’s had an impact, and we need to stop arguing about the science,” U.S. Rep. David Jolly said on February 27 at the University of South Florida.
“I have a confession to make,” the Pinellas County lawmaker added, “I’m a Republican.
“I truly do not understand why members of Congress argue over science. I don’t understand it. I understand the healthy argument and constructive dialogue over the solutions because we all have different solutions.”
Jolly’s comments to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby are notable given his party’s stance on the issue, but also because he’s running in the crowded Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
The remarks are also stronger than when he was running in the primary for the House seat in 2014, raising questions whether he has shifted his position.
Back then Jolly told the Tampa Bay Times that he thought man played a role but, “I don't think the impact that humans have had on our climate is so dramatic that it requires a significant shift in federal policy.”
Jolly was hit with TV ads from environmental groups who accused him of denying science. The editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times said his position was “based on ignorance, or worse, pandering.”
In an interview Tuesday, Jolly insisted he has been consistent but acknowledged his words at USF were more direct.
“If there’s any observation, it is that I have continued to become more frustrated with those in my own party who insist on fighting over the science instead of fighting over solutions,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of going nowhere in addressing large problems and I’d like to see our party accept the science and say we believe in conservative solutions.”
Jolly made clear that he opposes mandates to curb emissions — and suggested as much before the group in Tampa.
“Let’s continue to implement incentive based regulations when it comes to clean energy and environmental protections that industry can meet,” he said in the interview. “We can create new jobs, new industries around it. Compared to swift mandates and rules that simply can’t be met and in some cases, ultimately force people out of business.”
Jolly is one of a handful of Republicans — who include fellow Florida Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — to co-sponsor a 2015 resolution from New York Rep. Chris Gibson that acknowledges man’s role in climate change and calls for Congressional action.
Noting he has been hit from the left and likely will feel it from the right in the Senate primary, Jolly said: “The sad irony in all this is, I’m the guy trying to build a bridge in what is otherwise a politically tricky issue.”