What Republicans should do about the climate after the midterm elections

The Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) $369 billion investment in U.S. clean energy is a huge leap forward for climate action — and not a single Republican voted for it. If Republicans take control of one or both houses of Congress, they will face a choice: maintain their maverick status while Democrats own the climate agenda, or use their majority to exercise conservative leadership in the space. clean energy policy.

Despite the coldness they reserved for the IRA, the Republicans, propelled by young curators who demand more federal action on climate change, are beginning to take climate seriously. For the first time since John McCain’s presidential race in 2008, the Republican Party finally has a climate platform. Republican elected officials appeared at the UN Climate Change Conference last falland this summer a GOP task force published a six-pillar energy-climate plan.

These are very encouraging measures. We need conservatives at the table, and the GOP plan rightly draws attention to supply-side policies that would tap into national resources.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the GOP plan focuses myopically on boosting oil and gas extraction and appears blind to other abundant national energy resources. He points out that the United States has 38 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. That’s right, and the United States would burn through those reserves in less than a decade at our current prices and extraction rates. But we have enough renewable energy resources to meet all of our domestic electricity needs by 100 times. His devotion to fossil fuels sullies the party’s sound strategies. Rather than “all of the above”, their platform leans towards “fossil fuels first”. Fossil fuels have a role to play, but should not be in the foreground.

Fossil fuels have always enjoyed favorable political treatment. Now is the time to maximize present and future energy resources. Conservative voters know — 62% of Republicansincluding a huge 78% Young Republicansbelieve that the development of renewable energies is more important than the expansion of fossil fuels.

This represents a crucial opportunity. Instead of being the party beholden to oil, the Republicans could be the party of America’s energy abundance. An “all of the above” strategy to increase our energy production would focus on how to build more energy infrastructure currently blocked by regulatory, legal and local barriers. There is an immediate opportunity for Republicans to lead the current political debate. After voting unanimously against the IRA, Republicans sent mixed signals about a follow-on bill to streamline transmission and other enabling energy infrastructure. By working with Democrats, they could help cut red tape and free businesses to grow while bolstering their credentials as leaders of an energy abundance agenda.

The GOP wantsunlock american resources” and “let america build.” These plans should integrate our abundant geothermal, wind and solar resources and build the state-of-the-art transmission infrastructure needed to bring these resources to market. Harnessing these resources will create a resilient energy infrastructure capable of supporting electric vehicles made and charged in the United States, and keeping the lights on in the face of storms, floods and wildfires. Republicans could also lead the charge to unlock the resources held in our farms and forests by accelerating the adoption of common sense practices like precision farming, cover cropand longer rotations.

Another priority should be to update the Beat China and Russia section of their energy plan to include a border-adjusted carbon policy. This would allow domestic industries to take advantage of their low carbon intensity compared to China. That doesn’t leave America behind as other countries forge ahead with the border adjustments and technological innovations they encourage.

For a decade, some Republicans called climate change a hoax, while others turned a blind eye. Today, more and more elected Republicans are finally opening their eyes to the fact that climate change is happening, is being caused by our burning of fossil fuels and is exacerbating heat waves, wildfires and deadly and costly floods. Now Republicans must take the difficult step of doing something about it. Instead of being oil lackeys, they could be leaders of America’s energy abundance, using our resources to build a prosperous future and catalyzing market forces to develop innovative, American-made, low-cost solutions. carbon emission.

Kristin Eberhard is director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center.

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