WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) delivered the following opening remarks at a Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing on “Building America’s Clean Future: Pathways to Decarbonize the Economy.”
As Prepared for Delivery
Yesterday, our Majority leadership held a press conference to outline their plans for decarbonizing the United States by 2050. And today we are reviewing some potential paths to achieve this goal.
What decarbonization really means for consumers and workers in terms of policy prescriptions remains to be seen, but we should look very carefully before we leap back into the failed regulatory approaches the Majority appears to be contemplating.
Republicans believe that prudent steps should be taken to reduce emissions and address current and future climate risks. These steps require we examine the costs, effectiveness, and economic impacts of solutions proposed to address these risks. And they require we do not undermine the economic priorities of communities and states around the nation.
For this reason, we have urged our Majority colleagues to avoid resurrecting top-down policies that have been shown to be costly and harmful to consumer and worker interests; and instead, work with Republicans on the bi-partisan policies we have been pursuing over the past several Congresses.
These policies aim to continue America’s leadership role in developing innovative technologies to produce energy with little or no emissions.
And our record on this front is clear and positive for the climate. Republicans have been working with Democrats over the past several Congresses to remove regulatory barriers to new technological advances in power generation, from hydroelectric power to small modular nuclear, from carbon capture and storage incentives to power grid reforms.
Because innovation is where the long-term solutions to climate change are, we want America to lead the world in innovation, as we always have, especially on clean energy and environmental cleanup.
Instead of focusing solely on regulations that mandate emissions reductions here in the U.S., we need to put more emphasis on the parts of the world with some of the greatest CO2 emissions, like China and India.
Our most effective policies will be the ones that encourage and support development of clean energy technologies here in the U.S. by American workers, which then can be sold to those countries and around the world. These may not be the splashy promises – however unrealistic – that drive news coverage and they may not be the ones that are popular with the environmental lobby; but they are the ones that can have meaningful impact on global emissions while growing the U.S. economy and protecting the American worker.
This is why pursuit of policies like 45Q carbon sequestration tax credits enacted last Congress offer so much potential for cleaner fossil energy.
We will hear this morning about the promises carbon capture holds and what might be done to improve its prospects. And we know there is more innovation over the horizon.
We should talk about what it takes to ensure the United States can lead on clean fossil energy technology, on nuclear technology and not cede our dominance to our adversarial competitors globally. We already risk that in the nuclear technology space and we need to make sure that doesn’t continue.
Closer to home, we have to pursue practical policies that strengthen local economies and make our communities safer.
In the Northwest, while we’ve benefited from clean hydropower, wind, geothermal and solar power, we’ve suffered greatly from the lack of management of our federal forest lands, which are burning up every summer, choking our citizens and polluting our atmosphere.
Actively managing our forests not only reduces the risk of fire, it also reduces carbon emissions. It promotes healthy younger stands of trees, maximizing our forest’s ability to actively sequester carbon. All this while creating jobs and wood products that store carbon. Unfortunately, with around 80 million acres in need of treatment, our federal forests lag behind. We need to pass legislation – like the Resilient Federal Forests Act which I have introduced – to address this, and whether that is considered decarbonization or not, it is the right kind of bi-partisan policy to pursue.
Let’s talk about that. And lets talk about the needs of other communities—from the fossil-energy-rich cities and counties in Texas and Pennsylvania that have been pursuing the economic benefits fostered by the technological revolution in oil and natural gas production to the New England communities that do not have the energy infrastructure to assure heat and power on the coldest nights or warmest days.
Let’s talk about these policies in terms that matter to people every day. And find bi-partisan solutions that work for families and consumers.