Americans Won’t Buy the ‘Green New Deal,’ But Republicans Need Alternatives

As published in Real Clear Energy on February 12th, 2019.

Americans are practical people, especially when it comes to the environment. Most are simply looking for straightforward, tangible ideas that will deliver a cleaner energy future. They know that supporting investment in clean energy solutions has the potential to bolster our economy, create jobs, and strengthen national security. But these solutions must be sensible.

A desire for pragmatism is why most Americans will welcome discussion about how to lower carbon emissions with an open mind and in good faith. Our nation is long overdue for a diverse, honest conversation about the real challenges and opportunities surrounding climate issues, and Americans seem poised to have it.

People are listening carefully and expecting serious policy proposals that will deliver results. Instead, they were given another set of unrealistic recommendations in the form of a ‘Green New Deal.’ The authors of the resolution underestimate their audience’s ability to evaluate its elaborate, impractical vision, do simple arithmetic, and use logic to reject it.

Our country is finally at a point where individuals across the political spectrum recognize the priority of lowering carbon emissions. In a poll taken after the midterm election, over two-thirds of voters surveyed said that the issue of clean energy was important to their vote in 2018. And an impressive 81 percent of respondents said they supported government action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the United States, including strong majorities of Republicans (67 percent) and Independents (76 percent).

Getting to this consensus as a country has taken time. It is pivotal that we take advantage of national unity behind clean energy policy, and not squander this good will with impractical resolutions like the Green New Deal, which is nothing more than a wish list of progressive policy goals, including nationalized health care and guaranteed income. It wantonly sacrifices the seriousness of solving climate change in favor of shamelessly pushing a much larger liberal agenda. We can do better.

Republicans in Congress should not take this moment for granted because, for too long, conservatives have lost control of the narrative on environmental issues.  This is true, despite the Republican majority working steadily for the past two years, passing legislation and appropriations that offer tax incentives for clean energy development and increased spending in low to zero carbon energy research and development.

It’s time to step up their game, however, and pounce on the opportunity to offer a comprehensive, realistic plan rooted in conservatism that includes grid modernization, regulatory reform, tax incentives, and even greater investment in clean energy. Further, we need policies that better align federal and state policies so that industry can evolve more quickly, igniting the free market, and strengthening our economy.

Just over a month into a new year that began with a government shutdown, the American people are tired of convoluted schemes and political stalemates from Washington. They are ready for commonsense solutions. Supporters of the Green New Deal are betting on federal command and control to solve climate change, but instead we will need prudent proposals that have a real chance of passing with bipartisan support.

Heather Reams is Executive Director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, 501(c)(4) non-profit organization that engages Republican policymakers and the public about commonsense, conservative solutions to address our nation’s need for abundant, reliable energy while preserving our environment.

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