A significant shift in the climate policy debate in Washington, D.C. is underway. While many Americans are exposed to only one side of the issue, free marketeers and conservatives are beginning to change the narrative.
At C3 Solutions, for example, we just released our Climate and Freedom Agenda, a comprehensive policy playbook to reduce emissions globally and strengthen energy security.
On the Hill, Republicans in the House are rolling out their own legislative plan to address climate change, energy challenges, and conservation.
To commemorate these events, John Hart sat down with Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) on Right Voices. His legislation is playing a central role in the House GOP’s climate rollout.
Embracing a climate and energy agenda, especially before midterm elections, can be a politically dangerous move. Yet for Westerman and many of his colleagues, offering solutions to counter big-government policies is crucial to solving the issue and is important to Americans.
“It’s something that’s important to a big cross-section of the American public, and let’s face it everybody wants clean air and clean water. We all breathe the air, we all drink the water. I think that you get a large consensus of people who think we should be good stewards of the resources that we have and really what we’re proposing are commonsense, actual plans to get from point A to point B. I think America is realizing that these issues are much more complicated than the memes and the headlines and the talking points. You actually have to have a plan in place to get to cleaner energy. So that’s how we can lead, but we can’t just say ‘oh, we’re going to get all electric vehicles and that’ll solve the problem.’ These are complicated issues, and we’ve got to have a well-thought-out plan in place. You’ve got to transition from one point to the next.”
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Outlining principles and a plan now will also allow conservatives in Congress to hit the ground running in January, should they win back the majority.
“We want to talk about these tough issues while we’re in the minority. We want to come together with a plan that our caucus can get behind so that when these items come to the floor, we don’t have all of the internal debates and discussions. We want to work those issues out ahead of time. We’re trying to figure out the big issues before we hit the ground running if the American people allow us to be in the majority in the next Congress. And I can promise you, if that happens, it will happen quickly.”
A central theme of the legislative proposals of the Climate and Energy Taskforce is reducing harmful regulations to allow the private sector to thrive. As Rep. Westerman aptly said, “If we’re bogged down in bureaucratic red tape, if we create a system that makes it hard for innovators to do their thing, then we’re not going to get the results that we want.”
This has, of course, received pushback from the other side of the aisle who are concerned that deregulation will lead to environmental degradation. To this, the Congressman said, “You’ve got very brilliant people in our country, we’re constantly coming up with new innovations. We just have to turn those folks loose so they can do the job and solve the problems that we have.”
One of the pieces of legislation that C3 Solutions’ Climate and Freedom Agenda has highlighted is the No Timber for Tyrants Act, sponsored by Rep. Westerman. The bill would stop the import of lumber from Russia and instead use timber grown on American lands. This would not only slow Vladamir Putin’s war machine, but would also boost ecological and forest health in the U.S.
Rep. Westerman explains:
“You talk about a shell game, every year there’s a target put out on what we’re going to harvest off our national forests to make the forest healthy and we fall way, way short of that every year. That’s why over time, the fuels build up and we see catastrophic wildfires. So think of all that smoke in the west being two by fours to offset wood coming from Russia.”
Throughout the summer the House GOP will be rolling out an energy, climate, and conservation plan. Given the high cost of energy and the need to address climate change, it is essential for policymakers to advance solutions that address both.