Skip to main content

The Republican Record on Climate


WASHINGTON, DC – We expect to hear from Democrats today about “a bold new plan” to tackle climate change, a bit late more than 200 days into the Congress. Of course, the progressive left is agitating for extremism, since though they have little to show other than nonbinding resolutions after six months in the majority.

Compare that to last Congress, when under Republican leadership the Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings and passed legislation to protect clean airclean water, and clean land. Under Republican leadership, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed legislation to boost clean energy and clean up nuclear waste, and held a 12-part hearing series on modernizing America’s electric grid.

Energy and Commerce Republicans are focused on commonsense, bipartisan solutions to address current and future climate risks while also bolstering America’s economy.

RealClear Policy: Republicans Have Better Solutions to Climate Change

By Reps. Greg Walden, John Shimkus, and Fred Upton

Climate change is real, and as Republican Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we are focused on solutions. A serious, solutions-oriented discussion about how to address this challenge, while protecting the interests of the American people, our communities, and our country’s economic well-being is fundamental to getting this right.

America’s approach for tackling climate change should be built upon the principles of innovation, conservation, and adaptation. Republicans have long championed realistic, innovative, and free-market strategies to promote a cleaner environment and to reduce emissions. 

Click here to read the full op-ed online.

Republicans have a strong record of advancing policies that promote stewardship of our environment AND our economy. Just look at our efforts at the Energy and Commerce Committee in the last Congress to…

WHAT: Last Congress, the Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings to examine the practices and tools to reduce and manage the impacts of wildfire smoke on public health and local communities. Members reviewed how increasing forest management activities, such as thinning our forests and prescribed burning, can reduce the severity and size of future wildfires.

WHY: According to EPA research, premature deaths tied to wildfire air pollution were as high as 2,500 between 2008 and 2012. Other research out of Colorado State University suggest it could be as high as 25,000 people per year. In 2018, wildfires in California emitted 68 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere, the equivalent of one year of electricity generation in that state.

DID YOU KNOW?: Studies by the Nature Conservancy and Forest Service state that active forest management can reduce the size and intensity of wildfires by 70% and the carbon emissions from wildfires by up to 85%. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that active forest management will have the longest sustained carbon mitigation benefit for our forests.

WHAT: Last year, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law an Energy and Commerce bill to ensure Americans have clean water to drink when they turn on the faucet.

WHY: The Drinking Water System Improvement Act authorizes more than $4.4 billion over three years for the program communities use to modernize their drinking water infrastructure. This law focuses on three main principles: increasing funding to address drinking water systems’ physical needs, aiding states and utilities with compliance and operation of the drinking water program, and encouraging the wisest use of money that is spent.

DID YOU KNOW?: The United States uses 42 billion gallons of water a day. This drinking water is delivered across the country, via one million miles of pipes, by privately and publicly owned water systems. Many of those pipes were laid in the early to mid-20th century with a lifespan of 75 to 100 years.

WHAT: Last year, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law an Energy and Commerce bill to reauthorize and make improvements to EPA’s Brownfields Program, which is used by communities across the country to clean up abandoned, closed, or under-utilized commercial facilities and put them back into active use.

WHY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields across the United States and each of these sites has the potential to encourage economic development in the local community. Recently, the EPA announced that it will use that reauthorization to lift communities across the country.

DID YOU KNOW?: The Brownfields Program leverages over $16 in private investment for every federal dollar spent and leverages 8.5 jobs for every $100,000 of brownfields funds expended on environmental assessment and clean up. The City of Houston built Minute Maid Park – home to the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros – on a former brownfield site.

WHAT: Last Congress, Energy and Commerce Republicans led the effort in the House to enact a law that will lay the regulatory structure for advanced nuclear energy and to modernize the regulatory approach to existing nuclear power. Republican’s also led the effort in the House to pass legislation to ensure the advanced fuels for future nuclear reactors.

WHY:Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day. The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation.” – Bill Gates

DID YOU KNOW?: Without a permanent, safe place to put nuclear waste, America will not be able to capitalize on the benefits of this clean energy solution to reduce emissions. Science tells us that the safest place for this waste is Yucca Mountain. That’s why Energy and Commerce Republicans led work in the House last Congress to pass the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act to establish a permanent geologic nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain. This bill passed the House by a vote of 340-72 but was not considered in the Senate. By addressing the issue of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, this emissions-free energy source will be even more viable for the future.

Bottom Line: America has led the world in lowering carbon emissions because America has led the way with innovation, adaptation, and conservation. Those are the Republican principles Democrats should support so we can continue to be good stewards of our environment and our economy.

Republicans have led with solutions to reduce carbon emissions, modernize America’s power generation, boost clean energy and emissions-free nuclear power, promote energy efficiency, and empower industry to lead the way in producing cleaner energy through innovation rather than through a massive takeover by the federal government. That is the Republican record.