Delivering a speech at COP27 in Egypt, President Biden boasted that the United States is “putting our money where our mouth is” to combat climate change. With more than $440 billion committed to climate spending from the infrastructure bill and Inflation Reduction Act, he’s certainly not wrong. As the president tries to reestablish American leadership on climate, even that massive sum of money hasn’t been enough for some countries, as leaders from the developed and developing countries have called for more taxpayer-funded commitments. Without the necessary regulatory reform, however, red tape will stand in the way of future climate success stories.
President Biden spent a fair amount of time highlighting what the federal government is doing, but he should have spent more time highlighting what American innovators have done and continue to do to demonstrate climate leadership. The United States is a hub of clean energy innovation. With emerging nuclear fission and fusion start-ups, battery companies, zero-emission natural gas plants, and flourishing renewable energy companies, the private sector’s leadership is significant and dispersed throughout the economy. Let’s not forget it’s the natural gas industry to thank for the U.S. being the global leader in emissions reductions. Importantly, our liquefied natural gas will displace dirtier Russian gas and coal-fired power plants that have been restarted in the wake of the European energy crises. That is American leadership.
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To build off that success, President Biden needs to work with a new Congress to make the regulatory improvements that will further unleash innovators and entrepreneurs. Regulatory reform that maintains strong environmental safety standards but gives project developers the transparency and predictability they need will go a long way to stimulate investment, increase energy supplies, and reduce emissions. Permitting reform will better ensure that public and privately-funded projects are not held up by regulators and judges. The president is right when he said that climate change is about human security, economic security, environmental security and national security. With the right reforms, Congress and the administration can empower American energy producers to lower costs for families and businesses, diversify the world’s energy portfolio, and make progress toward climate targets.
It’s completely understandable that President Biden wants to take a victory lap on the pieces of legislation he signed into law. But this is a marathon, not a sprint. Spending other people’s money is the easy part. Now the hard work begins.