Once chosen as one of only four republicans on President Obama's 26-member task force on Climate Change, Brainard continues to challenge the GOP party line.
At a time when every day seems to bring more bad news about the impacts of global warming, James Brainard, the mayor of Carmel, Indiana, offers a serious, science-based perspective, in an atmosphere of politically motivated Climate Denial. Unlike most of his fellow republicans, Brainard sees Climate Change as a simple scientific fact, not a conspiracy or a subject of debatable inquiry.
Even more surpisingly, Indiana is coal-reliant state. But Brainard says that too, has to end, if the state is to attract and keep residents. He puts Climate Change issues in local terms. Clean air. Clean water. These are universal standard for a good life, he says, so they should be goals for every community.
To that end, he has supported Obama's stricter EPA rules about coal emissions, and worked to rebuild and redesign Carmel into a less car dependent, more walkable community. For a republican, you might think, he's an outlier, a progressive who doesn't fit in.
Not so, says Brainard. The anti-environmental stances of the last decade don't represent traditional republican values.
"I think it’s important to remember — there’s so much partisanship right now on this issue, [but] Republicans have a tremendous history of environmentalism," he told The Huffington Post. "It was Teddy Roosevelt who set aside millions of acres of park lands for a national park system. Remember Nixon? The EPA was formed during his presidency. The Migratory Bird Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act — there was a whole host of bills that his administration promoted, that he signed, that went through Congress while he was president and Jerry Ford was president, which really put the entire environmental structure that we have today in place."
Brainard will be speaking at the Green Builder Sustainability Symposium in Orlando on Jan. 9th. If you're planning to attend the Design and Construction Week show, be sure to book a ticket for some great networking on the future of green design and green building.9