Follow the Science—and Do the Math—on Clean Energy
The “go big or go home” mentality is killing the climate conversation. And it’s not what voters want, either.
Recent polling shows Americans have strong preferences for commonsense, bipartisan and all-of-the-above solutions—including fossil fuels and renewables—to achieve U.S. energy independence and sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
But for some reason, how to address our changing climate remains a very polarizing issue. While it's tempting to blame pervasive climate denial, polling has found widespread acceptance and concern about climate change among voters across the board—including a majority of conservatives. The true political divide falls on where to concentrate our efforts.
There is good to be found in the climate measures enacted in the past few weeks, and even some conservatives recognize the value of taking bolder action on climate than the previous administration. However, imposing broad political maneuvers without any attempt to reach across the aisle is a story that Washington watchers know all too well. Pandering to the political base of one party creates policies that will be as short-lived as the terms of the officials who enact them.
The bottom line is this: we cannot afford to make the environment a red vs blue issue—it’s a red, white, and blue issue that affects us all. Congress and the White House must embrace affordable, rational, reliable energy solutions that Americans support and that support America.
And they have. The Energy Act of 2020, the most comprehensive environmental legislation in over a decade, is now law because Republicans and Democrats set aside politics as usual and worked together for America’s future.
This bipartisanship wasn’t a fluke. Republicans, supportive of the undeniable science that climate change is real, have been at the table to advance clean energy. But what they are right to question is the math: enlarging an already “too big to fail” bureaucracy and mortgaging our children’s future for expensive big government programs never solved anything.
When activists on the far left denounce ideas that make sense economically, politically and logically, it’s easy to write off their criticism as simply cynical fundraising. But we must question the motives of those who demand that the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 without nuclear power and natural gas.
It’s time lawmakers listen to commonsense Americans and ignore the fringe who rather sideline the good while waiting for their perfect.
There is no better example of the need for a diverse energy portfolio and source-neutral energy storage than the current situation in Texas. Subzero temperatures have forced nuclear plants to close out of safety concerns and have frozen turbine blades and natural gas. The result: Americans have died and millions of Texans remain in the cold and dark.
For a state that rarely sees temperatures dip below 40, this weather was both unexpected and rapid. But as our climate continues change, we must be better prepared for these stresses on our nation’s electric grid. A modern, all-of-the-above energy grid requires that we pull in power from all sources and keep it around for times when we don't have enough generation to meet our needs. Whether that’s new breakthroughs in battery technology or innovations in storage at the grid scale, we must figure out how to separate generation from use if we ever want to be prepared for the unexpected again.
As a nation of innovators, the technology will get there, but until then, we cannot leave Americans to freeze and unable to pay artificially high energy bills.
Bill Gates, who just this week published a book on climate change, understands that while we continue to develop the technology needed for lasting climate solutions, we should rely on the technology that is already helping reduce emissions.
The week before President Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline by executive mandate, TC Energy, the Canadian company behind the project, committed to making it the first ever net-zero pipeline project in the world. With a stroke of the pen, the president prioritized politics over the livelihood of tens of thousands of American families and lower carbon emissions than what we will undoubtedly end up with.
To many, that kind of math will never add up.
Lasting progress will only come when our leaders abandon political posturing and start listening to their constituents and prioritizing common sense. It’s time we all follow the science AND do the math.
Heather Reams is Executive Director for Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization founded in 2013 to engage Republican policymakers and the public about responsible, conservative solutions to address our nation’s energy, economic, and environmental security while increasing America’s competitive edge.