As the President Calls for Investment in Infrastructure, Republican Lawmakers Engaged on Climate Have Never Been More Important

As the President Calls for Investment in Infrastructure, Republican Lawmakers Engaged on Climate Have Never Been More Important
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President Joe Biden’s speech this week in Pittsburgh announcing plans for a $3 trillion plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure — and address climate change — presents an opportunity to deliver on his inaugural message of unity. Infrastructure has long been a priority for lawmakers of all stripes – and it has always been popular with voters because they recognize that any investment in infrastructure is inherently an investment in them.

Biden needs to give Republicans a seat at the table, though, to make it a win-win for all of America, both red and blue. And Republicans, for their part, must seize the opportunity to demonstrate leadership on policy to address climate change that is already affecting American businesses and communities large and small.

Thankfully, there is a recent example of a successful legislative roadmap. At the end of last year, the Energy Act of 2020 was passed by a Democrat-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate, demonstrating that cooperation is possible – and constructive. 

The comprehensive energy package was the most aggressive climate legislation signed into law in recent memory, and it offers hope for achieving even more in the 117th Congress. 

The end-of-year package contained much to celebrate from extension and expansion of tax credits for renewables to efficiency incentives for power plants and investment in technology to capture and store carbon emissions – because simply cutting emissions is insufficient. 

The package integrated several existing measures written by dozens of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. All of which had gone through a thorough deliberative and bipartisan legislative process. 

Republicans should be applauded for advancing the conversation on climate change last year. Their continued engagement is vital to ensure that Congress and the Biden administration takes a balanced and viable approach to curbing carbon emissions while also protecting economic growth. 

Whatever policies Congress ultimately crafts must be market-based, support economic growth and provide Americans with reliable, affordable energy — in addition to reducing emissions.

Republicans who support a responsible approach to addressing climate change have never been more crucial to the public policy debate than now. A one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the impacts of climate change does not exist. Instead, there are multiple options available for policymakers to choose from. Some are better than others. 

While some lawmakers support tax credits and other incentives to push innovation in clean energy technologies, others advocate pricing carbon to provide a clear signal to the market. Still, others promote nature-based solutions.  

All agree that encouraging competition and innovation is essential. And while following the science is essential, so is doing the math to ensure human flourishing. Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee just released their “Securing Cleaner American Energy” plan, which offers a solid starting point for conservative climate policies. 

Both chambers of Congress are expected to reconvene their respective climate solutions caucuses, bipartisan working groups where members can listen to each other and, hopefully, negotiate compromise legislation. The door to join should be open to everyone — the more voices engaged in the climate debate, the more representative the outcome. 

Those elected representatives who worry whether conservatives support climate action, take it from us: Acting on climate change is inherently conservative. Polls increasingly show support from a majority of conservative voters, especially among millennials and Generation Z. More importantly, our faith shows it, whether written in scripture or found in the embrace of creation care. 

Republicans have a proud and long history of conservation, from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan. It’s time for conservatives to take back the stewardship mantle. Our organizations have worked for years to advance policies to make our energy cleaner and our planet healthier.

What can be more conservative than maintaining the inheritance we received from our forefathers and ensuring that we pass it on to the next generation better than we received it? 

As conservative grassroots organizations, we salute the leadership Republicans are increasingly showing on climate change. A repeat of the collaborative spirit shown at the end of 2020 would be a win-win for all of America. 

The Democratically-controlled Congress and Biden White House are moving full-speed ahead to decarbonize the U.S. economy. Republican voices, rooted in conservative principles, are crucial to ensure that the solution Congress comes up with is achievable, affordable, durable and protects the U.S. competitiveness. We all want a future with a healthy climate and a healthy economy.

 

Signers/organizations are listed below:

Sarah Velasquez, ConservAmerica
Jessica Moerman, Evangelical Environmental Network
George Gemelas, Students for Carbon Dividends
Chelsea Henderson, republicEn.org
Joseph Majkut, Niskanen Center
Danielle Butcher, The Conservation Coalition


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