17 Republicans in Congress join fight against global warming, challenging President Trump

NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - A group of 17 Republicans in Congress signed a resolution on Wednesday vowing to seek "economically viable" ways to stave off global warming, possibly putting them on a collision course with President Donald Trump who has called climate change a hoax.

Republicans Elise Stefanik of New York, Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives pledging to "study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates" and seek ways to "balance human activities" that contribute.

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Several Republicans who signed the resolution represent parts of the country most affected. Curbelo hails from Miami, where streets regularly flood at high tide due to rising sea levels.

"This issue was regrettably politicized some 20 or so years ago, and we are in the process of taking some of the politics out, reducing the noise, and focusing on the challenge and on the potential solutions," Curbelo said in a call with journalists on Tuesday.

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Trump's newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a CNBC interview on Thursday that he did not believe carbon dioxide was a major contributor to climate change.

"The head of the EPA's comments were disconcerting. What he said was akin to saying the earth is flat in 2017," Curbelo said. "We must insist on evidence-based and science-based policies."

Trump has repeatedly voiced doubts on climate change, at one point calling it a hoax to weaken U.S. business, and said during his 2016 presidential campaign that he wanted to pull the United States out of a global pact to fight it. Curbelo said he believed some Trump allies were ready to work on fixing climate change, though he declined to identify them.

An overwhelming majority of scientists say human activity - including the burning of oil, gas and coal - is the main driver of rising global temperatures. Most Republicans either dispute that or disagree that it is an urgent problem.

A similar resolution was introduced by Republicans in the previous Congress, with 17 signing. Some of those lawmakers lost their reelection bids. (Reporting by Emily Flitter; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller)