ormer U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis ’84 is something of an outlier in today’s political climate.
Inglis, who is a conservative Republican, has vocally proclaimed that climate change is real and needs to be addressed, and he is working to alter the discussion among his peers.
“I’m a conservative, and I believe you can change based on data and learning,” he told Minnesota public radio in a November interview. “You can learn and grow and still be consistent with your principles.”
Through speaking tours, media appearances and a website, republicEn.org, his goal is to put forth proactive solutions to the problem that don’t involve big government spending.
Inglis first served South Carolina’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-99. He began his career as a climate change skeptic.
“Al Gore was for it, and therefore I was against it,” he said of the former vice president and noted climate change activist.
After an unsuccessful bid for the Senate, Inglis considered running to serve in the House again. He consulted his family. His son, newly of voting age, said he had only one condition: His father had to take climate change seriously.
Inglis won re-election in 2004, then again in 2006 and 2008.
It was during his last stay in office that he landed an assignment on the Science and Technology Committee. Inglis’ fact-finding on the committee led him to become an activist himself. He encouraged his colleagues to embrace the National Academy of Science’s conclusions that human activity is causing climate change and that it poses significant risks if not addressed. He also advocated for a carbon tax.
The activism did not bode well for his 2010 re-election campaign, however.
“I lost an election, but I did not lose my soul,” he said.
In 2015, Inglis received the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for his stand.
Inglis’ conservative bona fides, according to the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University, which hosts his efforts, are indisputable.
His voting record in Congress earned a 93 percent rating with the American Conservative Union, 100 percent ratings with the Christian Coalition and National Right to Life, and an “A” with the National Rifle Association, according to a press release.