POLITICS:GOP businessman launches effort to convince conservatives on

Republican climate activist Jay Faison, who yesterday announced a $175
million campaign to promote conservative action on warming, cautioned his
party's presidential candidates to steer clear of skepticism on the
campaign trail.

He believes that moderate Republican voters, especially those who are under
30 or Latino, could abandon the party if they're faced with a nominee who
expresses doubt about mounting scientific findings around man-made warming.

"I think it will cost them if they take that position," Faison said in an
interview. "I think they know that."

The wealthy entrepreneur plans to make his own waves in the race. He
announced yesterday the creation of a $10 million nonprofit group that can
be active in electoral politics. It's still unnamed, and Faison admits that
he hasn't settled on a "clear strategy" for the foundation.

"I think there's quite a bit of specific legislative advocacy that can
happen," he said. "I think there's some electoral politics that we should
be playing in. This is a political game, and we don't want to be

For all the attention accompanying his money, Faison said he hasn't settled
on a specific legislative policy to address climbing temperatures, which he
describes as "the world's biggest risk and the biggest opportunity."

He emphasizes "free-market solutions" and acknowledges giving grants to the
R Street Institute and the Niskanen Center, both of which promote
revenue-neutral carbon taxes. He said that option and others are on the
table. But he won't be pinned down.

"There's a lot of good Republican solutions available," Faison said. "I
think it's a little early to prescribe the solution. We need to start the
dialogue first."
Challenging Democratic dominance with 'smarter' arguments?

For now, Faison said his ClearPath Foundation, another nonprofit prohibited
from electioneering, and a new website launched yesterday named
clearpath.org will seek to build a Republican climate movement by focusing
on the science and the effects of warming.

And that means avoiding gloomy warnings about global catastrophes. They
don't appeal to his "tribe."

"I think as a movement we've got to be smarter about how we position our
arguments," Faison said. "We don't want to slam capitalism. I think we need
to be realists. I think we need to talk about solutions that businesses
will like."

In years past, Faison said, he was "frustrated" by the omnipresent
Democratic ownership of the climate issue. When he sold his North
Carolina-based company SnapAV, which distributes an array of electronic
components like computer cords, security systems and speakers for specialty
installers of audio-visual systems, Faison jumped into the climate realm --
as a rich donor.

Environmental groups welcomed his participation yesterday, but some
observers downplayed the impact of his investment, noting that the fossil
fuel industry is injecting much more money to influence the debate (
*Greenwire* <http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2015/06/09/stories/1060019906>,
June 9, 2015).

That made Faison laugh.

"It's a lot more money than there was yesterday," he said of pro-climate

"Look, I know, the other side's got a lot of money and a lot of power, but
I encourage the whole community to be positive and start framing the
arguments in ways that are appealing to both sides of the aisle," he said.

"The truth is on our side," he added. "So we don't need to beat the New
York Yankees with the most money. But we do need to be on the same

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