While the “red wave” never materialized, Republicans have gained a narrow majority in the House, which will give them some legislative influence on climate and energy policy. Given the need to reduce energy bills and lower emissions, Republicans should pursue a bipartisan agenda that focuses on advancing all energy technologies. Reforms that open access to markets for all forms of energy will fight climate change while increasing supplies to deliver affordable power to American households.
“Our energy solutions are climate solutions,” Rep. Cathy Morris (R-Washington) said, “America can and must lead the world in reducing emissions without trading our security to the Chinese Communist Party and sacrificing our energy reliability and affordability to OPEC+.”
Eager to put forward a legislative agenda that helps consumers and the planet, policymakers have an opportunity to make lasting economic and environmental progress. Here are three technologies that Congress should advance to reach those goals.
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Domestic Oil and Gas
American energy security has been a major focus for Republicans coming into this midterm election cycle. Much of their messaging has focused on condemning the Biden administration’s regressive policies that targeted domestic oil and gas production.
“President Biden’s cancelation of oil and gas leases is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. We need more American energy, not less,” Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted.
Domestic fossil fuel production can play a critical role in furthering climate progress because American oil and gas produces fewer emissions than fossil fuels from other countries. Analysis from Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) has found that American LNG is 40% cleaner than Russian gas while domestically drilled oil has a carbon footprint that is 50% smaller than Venezuelan crude. Importantly, revenues generated from oil and gas production on federal lands and waters go toward conservation efforts.
Republicans in the next Congress will likely put their support behind nuclear energy, touting its affordability, efficiency, and the fact that it is our largest source of carbon-free power.
“If you ask many Members of Congress what they think the solution to our environmental issues is, they will probably respond, ‘renewable energy.’ But if we’re really worried about the climate, and I know we all are—we all want clean air, we all want bright water—I suggest that we also embrace nuclear energy.” Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) said, “Nuclear energy is not only safe, but it is clean, and, frankly, it can produce more power than renewables.”
In 2020, Republicans successfully included the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act in the Defense Authorization Bill, which authorized the creation of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. The legislation additionally directed the Department of Energy to research and develop fuel for advanced reactors. The GOP can continue to advance nuclear power by investing in research and development, a solution that enjoys bipartisan support.
Republicans have also pushed for an expansion of hydropower, another clean and abundant source of energy. The United States hasn’t seen a significant expansion of hydropower, due in large part to the extensive and complex permitting process. Policymakers could keep existing hydropower online and accelerate new developments by simplifying these processes. In fact, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers has already introduced legislation that would streamline the hydropower facility approval times.
“It costs tens of millions of dollars and years of effort to go through the licensing process. And for some of these facilities, particularly some of the smaller facilities, they just don’t have that money or that time,” Malcolm Woolf, President and CEO of the National Hydropower Association told CNBC.
Republicans have a chance to advance market-driven climate and energy policies in the next Congress. Through reforms that empower the market to drive energy investment and innovation, energy companies will deliver affordable, reliable power to consumers while continuing to lead the world in emissions reductions.
Corey Walker is a budding historian and economist. He loves drinking hot chocolate, wearing sweaters, and watching football in the fall.