Election season creates a lot of noise in Washington, so I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts directly on an important issue Republicans are responsibly taking on. Please see the below piece for some information on how Republicans are prepared to act for the environment while reviving American industries.
Americans want a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment. And we know we can achieve it alongside a strong economy that employs more of our citizens and keeps energy prices low. We know this because this is the story of America’s energy renaissance today.
- Due to American ingenuity, the United States reduced CO2 emissions by 42 million tons between 2016 and 2017 — the largest cut of any nation.
- Over 6 million Americans work in the energy sector, and between 2016 and 2018, that number grew by 279,590. This proves we can be a global leader in reducing emissions while not just preserving American jobs, but growing them.
- The U.S. increased oil production from under 6 million barrels a day in 2010 to almost 13 million today. This reduces our dependence on foreign oil and creates a supply surplus, keeping energy prices low.
This progress matters to working Americans who drive long distances to work or shuttle kids to sports and other weekend activities. This matters to low-income households who spend a larger percentage of their income on energy costs than others. And it matters to American manufacturing workers who are building the 21st Century economy.
That’s what makes plans like the Green New Deal more (and worse) than a happy sounding name: they are plans that will disrupt our way of life while giving countries like China a free pass to pollute. Proponents insist their focus is on lower-income Americans, but the facts undisputedly say the opposite.
In California, many of the Green New Deal’s policies are already underway. Renewable mandates, emissions mandates, and fuel mandates have left Californians with the most expensive energy in the country.
Electricity Prices: California vs. U.S. Average
In fact, the regulatory burden in California is so high that in 2018, a coalition of civil rights leaders and minority advocacy groups sued the state — claiming its energy policies actually hurt the poor and remove the potential to achieve the American dream.
For conservatives, the debate has centered on how to develop energy and environmental policy that addresses global challenges but doesn’t mandate approaches that hurt the American economy. Some insist no action is necessary — whether because the left is wrong (they are) or the environmental challenges do not exist or are overblown. To be sure, the left and the media have lost their way propagating doomsday. But as countries like China continue to lead the rise in global emissions, prescribing nothing in the way of sensible environmental policy is a bad approach.
First and foremost, America’s energy leadership has powered the economic comeback we are seeing today. A full-scale industrial and rural revival through new American energy and environmental innovation is possible, and should be our top priority.
Second, as we often see with today’s media and social climate, it is the loudest voices in the room who can promulgate an idea from fringe to mainstream. And as mentioned above, core tenets of the Green New Deal are the mainstream in California. We can’t afford to enact these radical policies across the country.
Conservative columnist Henry Olsen put it clearly. He said: “The alternative [to ignoring sensible measures to combat climate change] is that conservative political hopes will get clear cut by the real green socialists as they bulldoze their way to victory.”
And Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade said: “There’s a place between the Green New Deal and no deal.”
That’s exactly where House Republicans are headed.
At a member policy conference in January, Republicans discussed our vision for the environment and the jobs opportunity it offers. Axios provided a look into what that might consist of — including the trillion tree initiative, which is supported by President Trump.
Following the conference and numerous member meetings, we have taken our vision from concepts to a framework of ideas based on three policy verticals that will continue to advance a technology and jobs revival throughout the country: capturing and utilizing carbon, developing and exporting clean energy, and encouraging conservation.
No taxes. No regulations. No mandates. Just an opportunity to let innovation and technology grow and reshape the American industrial landscape — including tremendous job potential in all of America.
On February 12, I joined seven of my colleagues across the Republican ideological spectrum as we introduced four bills within our carbon capture vertical. For details, check out the presentation we issued.
In the coming weeks, more solutions will be introduced through the two other verticals: clean energy and conservation.
America has always been a leader in developing cutting-edge technologies and pushing the limits of our imagination. It only makes sense to apply that same approach and dedication to reducing global emissions and creating new American jobs.
To do this, we need to make American energy clean, affordable, and exportable. This vertical — with a focus on advanced nuclear, natural gas, hydropower, and developing innovative clean energy technologies, such as new battery technology — will make that possible.
As our colleague Garret Graves says, fossil fuels are not the enemy — emissions are. So instead of wiping out an entire industry that millions of American families depend on, Republicans have plans to reduce those emissions while investing in clean energy technology that will lead to less emissions, lower costs, and produce as much or more power. Chief among them is advanced nuclear technology.
Michael Shellenberger, President of Environmental Progress, recently testified: “Nuclear is not only the safest way to make electricity, it has actually saved two million lives, according to the best available research. Only nuclear can substitute for fossil fuels while maintaining and increasing levels of energy consumption required for universal human prosperity.”
This should be a no-brainer, but Shellenberger explains part of the reason we are stuck: “Nuclear plants are cost-competitive with both coal and natural gas in almost every part of the world. The United States is the major exception. The main reason nuclear is more expensive than it should be is its rigid and disruptive over-regulation, due to unfounded public fears.”
We have to fix this.
In addition to the promise nuclear offers American power generation, we can’t lose sight of the most important energy and environmental story in the last century: America’s oil and natural gas boom. This energy renaissance was made possible by exactly the policies Republicans are advocating for today: federal investments in innovation coupled with a robust private sector with the freedom to deploy new technologies.
Today, it is critical that we ensure clean American natural gas will continue to help power our own economy. But in order to reduce global emissions, we will also need to increase exports around the world. Increased American production of cheaper and cleaner gas will supplant dirtier Russian oil currently purchased by our allies and other nations. Along with LNG exports, our investments in clean and affordable energy technology will be at the center of a new global energy market.
By mobilizing American resources and technologies, we can build and export American energy to meet global demand and decrease global emissions by providing cleaner and cheaper alternatives to what exists in the global market today. And as we do, we will create American jobs.
Republican President Teddy Roosevelt rightly called America’s natural resources “the most glorious heritage a people ever received.”
When it comes to managing and utilizing our natural resources, few constituencies are more committed than America’s farmers. And despite what Mike Bloomberg thinks, our farmers are on the front lines of using technology to increase productivity while preserving the environment.
Precision agriculture is one of the key ways our rural and agricultural communities can be involved in reducing emissions. This vertical helps farmers overcome the barriers to new farming techniques that reduce emissions through public-private partnerships, infrastructure upgrades including broadband access, and increased incentives for innovative farming technology.
“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”
– President Theodore Roosevelt
The second half of this vertical leans into the global aspect of the issue at hand. We can only make a meaningful impact if countries around the world are also working towards a cleaner environment.
If you take all of the plastic that ends up in the oceans from rivers, 90 percent comes from just 10 rivers — and none of them are in the United States.
The U.S. is already leading a coordinated effort to help developing countries create proper waste management systems. We are developing legislation that will not only prioritize these partnerships, but will leverage further U.S. aid should we find that these countries are not doing their part. We must ensure American taxpayers’ dollars are not wasted.
In the end, meeting the challenges of the future depends on American innovation. Contrary to the socialist proposals the Democrats put forth under the Green New Deal, which do nothing to address the real problem that is global emissions, Republican solutions will allow the United States to remain energy independent, grow American jobs, and export American energy around the world — all while creating a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment.