Legislator Highlight: Rep. Carlos Curbelo

In an era of highly polarized politics, bipartisan and solution minded legislators are often difficult to find. Representative Carlos Curbelo refuses to further partisan divides and instead brings a refreshing, common sense perspective to Congress, particularly on issues relating to the environment. Rep. Curbelo represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which is home to the Everglades and Biscayne National Park. These national treasures, with their immense ecological and scenic value, have a committed protector in Rep. Carlos Curbelo. During his time in Congress, Rep. Curbelo has been perhaps the strongest advocate of free market environmental reforms and he represents everything the American Conservation Coalition looks for in an ideal legislator.

Rep. Curbelo’s commitment to free market environmentalism and conservation is well documented and impressive. Most notably, he is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. The caucus has made efforts to tone down the deeply partisan nature of environmental discussions and to emphasize the need for a logical approach to combat climate change. Upon its founding, Rep. Curbelo stressed that the caucus needs to have a “productive, fact based dialogue about market oriented solutions, investments, and innovations that mitigate the effect of climate change and make our nation more resilient.” Under his leadership, the Climate Solutions Caucus has the potential to drive pro-environment and pro-business reforms that solve energy and conservation issues more effectively than heavy government regulation.     

Rep. Curbelo’s advocacy for environmental protection and innovation extends far beyond his caucus memberships and into legislative actions. In 2017, by unifying the Climate Solutions Caucus, he led the effort to defeat the Perry Amendment, which would have stripped the requirement of the Department of Defense to consider threats posed by climate change and rising sea levels in its initiatives. Rep. Curbelo has also championed pro-innovation policies, specifically in the area of carbon capture, which would accelerate growth in the clean energy sector. Alongside Rep. Mark Veasey, Rep. Curbelo cosponsored the Carbon Capture Improvement Act. This provision would incentivize businesses and encourage them to invest in carbon capture technology, with Rep. Curbelo noting that “this bipartisan legislation would reduce the carbon emissions that are scientifically proven to hurt our environment while protecting and creating American jobs.” The Carbon Capture Improvement Act strikes an appropriate balance between environmental and business concerns. This bill reinforces that a strong environment and a strong economy are not mutually exclusive; they can be achieved simultaneously through investment and innovation oriented policies.

While it is challenging to condense Rep. Curbelo’s tremendous efforts into one article, his claim that “pursuing pro-growth policies that will make America energy independent through increased and environmentally sustainable domestic production, energy diversification, and increased efficiency will help revolutionize our economy and protect our national security” accurately summarizes his intentions and initiatives as a member of Congress. Rep. Curbelo is exactly right; implementing pro-growth and free market policies as opposed to strict government regulation will facilitate and encourage a transition to clean energy dominance. His classification of the environment as a national security issue is also spot on. Given that preserving and protecting our environment is among our most important concerns for the future, conservatives need to inject their ideas into environmental conversations. We need not to stand by and watch as command and control environmental policies continue to fail. Instead, we must bring innovative, free market perspectives to the table and change the narrative. Individuals like Rep. Carlos Curbelo are leading this fight to transform environmental discussions and the American Conservation Coalition is proud to support and join him.

Ronnie Thompson