June 9, 2015 / 3:22 AM / 4 years ago

Republican pours money into U.S. climate, clean energy foundation

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) - A Republican businessman said on Monday he is pouring millions of dollars into a foundation that sees opportunities where the majority of his fellow party members do not: easing climate change and speeding the country’s transition to clean energy.

Jay Faison of Charlotte, North Carolina, has given $165 million to Clearpath, his foundation dedicated to explaining to centrist Republicans climate science and business opportunities in solar and other forms of green energy. In addition, he is giving $10 million to a related political nonprofit to raise additional funds.

The foundation aims to move the Republicans away from the party line of raising doubts about the science of climate change.

“There’s a lot of good solutions, but we are not going to get there if we keep arguing about the problem,” said Faison, a founder of audio-visual system companies.

The foundation has invested between $1 million and $9 million in three or four solar energy projects, he said. “We need more than twice the investment in clean energy than we are currently getting,” he said about the country’s power infrastructure, adding that the solar investments are a small part of what the foundation does.

Separately, Faison has also donated to Republicans Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham is seeking the presidency in 2016, and Bush is expected next week to declare his bid.

Bush said in New Hampshire last month that climate change is real, but added it is “arrogant” for people to say how much of it is man-made. Graham briefly supported a cap-and-trade bill in the Senate that later died in 2010, and calls for a debate on how to fight climate change without hurting the economy.

Faison joins a small but growing list of Republicans who see business opportunities in green energy. Debbie Dooley, a member of the so-called Green Tea Coalition, and former Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., have also led a conservative charge into solar power

While Clearpath.org, the foundation’s website, explains why some major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Shell, add a carbon price into their evaluations of prospective projects, Faison stopped short of picking his favorite carbon pricing mechanism.

“There’s a lot of options on the menu, and it’s a little early to talk about which options are right,” he said. “We want to elevate the discussion about those menu items.” (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Ken Wills)

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