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California Republicans join climate change fight, tell colleagues 'it would be foolish not to engage'

President Trump has famously dismissed climate change as a hoax and his administration is reportedly debating how to walk back the United States' participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. But far from Washington, members of the president's party are quietly bridging partisan divides to work with Democrats on climate change legislation, The Los Angeles Times reports.

California Republicans voted last year against legislation that set an aggressive new benchmark for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 2030. But the Democrats' legislation has since become law and now Republicans are exploring their own approaches to limiting emissions and using the freed-up revenue of a cap-and-trade program for tax credits and rebates. The proposed cap-and-trade program would require "companies to buy permits to release emissions into the atmosphere," the Times explains.

Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes said: "Californians, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, are different from the rest of the country. What they're doing back in Washington, D.C., is not what we're going to be doing in California ... It would be foolish not to engage."

Still, it's a shaky new relationship; there is some question about the legality of the program, and Democrats might not be willing to give up certain parts of their proposal in a compromise, such as their wish to regulate public health pollutants along with greenhouse gases in the program. In one heated exchange with Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong (Bakersfield), Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown snapped: "You're not going to vote for cap-and-trade anyway. Look, cap-and-trade is about climate change, which you don't believe in and your president says is a hoax."

But Assemblyman Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside) indicates things are changing. "You look on what's going on in the Antarctic, in the North Pole, you look at the issue of sea-level rise. It's an issue that we need to be concerned about," he said. "We want to be part of the solution."