Four centrist Senate Republicans are banding together to call for policies to protect the environment.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) describe the group as a loose coalition that will meet regularly to come up with Republican pro-environment policies and enlist more GOP senators to support them.
The group includes two senators in Ayotte and Kirk who face tough reelection races next year in states won by President Obama in 2012. Their races will help determine which party has the Senate majority in 2017.
The group’s formation was first reported by Politico.
“The Energy and Environment Working Group will be a way for us to bring people together and start an ongoing conversation about these topics — like how we can best protect our environment and climate, pursue common sense and market-based reforms to grow our economy, and promote cleaner energy production,” Ayotte said in a statement.
Graham, who is running for president and has stood out as the most climate-focused candidate among the GOP field, said, “It is possible to produce a safe, clean environment, and create new well-paying jobs for Americans of all generations.”
Liz Johnson, a spokeswoman for Ayotte, said forming the coalition is part of an effort to prioritize issues such as conservation funding and energy efficiency among Republicans.
“This is still in the early stages, so there’s no set schedule yet, but the group will meet periodically to talk about ways to build support for protecting the environment and climate and promoting cleaner energy production while also helping the economy,” she said.
The coalition’s founding follows an effort by 11 moderate House Republicans in September to get their conference on board recognizing human-caused climate and to work toward Republican policies to address it.