By Bryan Boggiano
Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R SC-4) spoke to the Rotary Club of Coral Springs-Parkland to discuss his work to mitigate the effects of human-induced climate change.
First elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, representing the Greenville, S.C., area, Inglis retired in 1998 but won reelection in 2004.
During his second stint in Congress, Inglis publicly agreed with the scientific consensus linking human activities to climate change and began speaking about the importance of mitigation.
That decision would cost Inglis his seat.
In 2010, he faced off against Rep. Trey Gowdy in the Republican primary, losing by over 40 percentage points.
Since then, Inglis made climate change his professional priority. In 2012, he founded the Energy and Enterprise Institute at George Mason University, also known as RepublicEN. The organization aims to advocate for conservative, free-enterprise approaches to mitigating climate change and using energy responsibly.
RepublicEN’s work takes the former representative to several states, including Indiana, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and Florida.
“Florida is ground zero for climate impacts and a growing awareness of the reality of climate change,” Inglis told club members.
To combat climate change, Inglis said RepublicEN advocates for a solution to instill a carbon tax on imports and reduce the U.S. federal payroll tax (FICA). That would raise the price of electricity by $11 per month and gas by up to 30 cents per gallon, while it would raise prices on carbon-intensive items such as plastic.
Paper, which is not as carbon-intensive, would see a much smaller price increase.
However, Inglis said the tax would benefit the bottom 70 percent with higher paychecks, make the top 30 percent pay for their pollution, and not increase the size of the government.
He also said the new initiative would help create a competitive business environment where companies actively develop cleaner alternatives.
Despite the potential promises, Inglis said there are a number of challenges to implementing these solutions, which include building trust, getting the world on board, and persuading members of both parties to come on board, which he says can take at least 10 minutes of thorough communication.
He said his solution boils down to “untax” payroll, tax carbon dioxide, and apply it to all imports.
He also discussed getting the world on board with this solution, saying pollution in high-population countries such as China and India and emissions from Russia’s War in Ukraine pose limitations.
Mentioning Florida’s geopolitics and climate change, Inglis touched on everything from the meaning of “freedom” to the insurance crisis facing homeowners and property owners throughout the state.
He said that increasing premiums and companies pulling out of the state are directly related to the effects of human activity.
“Anybody who is a skeptic on climate change, just ask the actuaries at insurance companies,” he said.
Inglis mentioned mitigating the effects of climate change and pollution is necessary for freedom.
“If you have freedom without accountability, what you have is chaos,” he said.
In partisan politics, Inglis said he is saying what Former Vice President Al Gore has advocated for 30 years. Still, he feels although Democrats have made strides in advancing clean energy through incentives, those may not necessarily translate to international innovation.
In 2024, Inglis said if elected, former President Donald Trump would double down on disputing climate change. Still, Inglis said he sees progress in his party as Republicans, particularly younger ones, recognize humans’ impacts on climate change and the need to address them.
“Young conservatives want as much action as young progressives,” he said. “Even if they’re baby boomers, they see the reality that they need to put an answer to climate change.”
- Bryan has a degree in journalism from the University of Florida and earned his masters in geosciences from Florida International University, where he focused in atmospheric sciences. His interests include weather, entertainment, and municipal government.
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