Op-ed: Homegrown Energy Means Lower Prices and Lower Emissions

Today, RealClearEnergy published an op-ed by CRES President Heather Reams highlighting America’s all-of-the-above energy portfolio and how homegrown energy results in both lower energy prices and reduced global emissions.

Read the full op-ed here or below:

The federal government has many priorities – especially in an election year – but both parties should agree on one thing: American homegrown energy results in lower prices and lower global emissions.  

The U.S. can and should be the world’s clean energy powerhouse, and we are well on our way. The all-of-the-above energy approach is commonsense; we should not be picking winners and losers when it comes to energy generation, and here’s why.  

Right now, there’s a sizable spotlight on American natural gas production, with the Biden Administration’s de facto ban consideration of new liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals. American-produced natural gas is among with cleanest in the world, and Republicans have been pointing to the fact that not only would a ban on LNG exports threaten global energy security by forcing our allies to rely on hostile countries like Russia, but it would also increase global emissions. 

U.S. LNG exported to Europe is 41% cleaner than Russian natural gas exported to same place. In fact, if Europe replaced Russian natural gas with U.S. LNG, global emissions would be 218 million tons lower every year. This reduction would be equivalent to eliminating nearly all of the annual emissions from France. 

Additionally, the U.S. produces more crude oil than any country – with exceedingly high environmental and labor protections – while still decreasing emissions by more than the next six emissions-reducing countries combined.  

While U.S.-produced fossil fuels are playing a role in reducing global emissions, America’s homegrown energy production doesn’t stop there. Last year, the U.S. broke several renewable energy records.  

Solar production in 2023, for example, grew 51% over 2022 levels – the industry’s largest expansion by far. This capacity growth was seen in residential, commercial and utility-scale solar installations, proving Americans are embracing the power of the sun as an affordable, clean energy resource – especially in red states, with Texas and Florida ranking in the top three states for solar capacity. 

This isn’t surprising. In 2023, CRES Forum polling indicated that 82% of Republicans support solar power generation. This support increases to 88% for those who live near a solar farm or installation. This “Yes, In My Backyard” mentality stretches across a variety of clean energy sectors, including hydropower, wind and nuclear generation.  

We also hit another key milestone in our work to advance clean energy. The U.S. commissioned approximately 7.5 gigawatts of battery storage in 2023, more than doubling our nation’s energy storage capacity. Energy storage is crucial to clean energy development – especially for intermittent sources like wind and solar.    

Finally, geothermal, a baseload renewable energy resource, is on the verge of a major breakthrough, with Congress advancing bipartisan legislation to pave the way for more geothermal energy and the U.S. Department of Energy reporting  it could soon become one of the most cost-competitive clean energy resources we have.  

There are several factors for this astonishing increase in clean energy production, including clean energy tax credits for producers, but the main reason is simple: demand. Americans know more energy supply equals lower energy prices, and with skyrocketing costs and record inflation hitting families across the country, the less their electricity costs, the better.  

Bringing new sources of homegrown energy online pushes down energy costs, but incentivizing investment in these projects is near to impossible in the current regulatory environment. If we want to continue down this road of progress and provide the low-cost and low-emission energy consumers are eager for, we need permitting reform.  

Whether it’s to build a new wind farm, modernize transmission and pipeline infrastructure or develop the resources we need for batteries and other clean technologies – if we don’t streamline our federal permitting process, these projects will never get off the ground.  

Republican lawmakers have been vocal about the need for permitting reform, and while there are ongoing conversations with their Democrat counterparts, the looming November election has seemingly put these discussions on hold. House Republicans continue to advance permitting measures out of the House, only for them to die in the Democrat-led Senate. Any durable policy must have buy-in from both political sides, and permitting for energy projects fits the bill.  

Despite the current political climate, I am optimistic Republicans and Democrats can come together to build on the momentum of this past year and continue to support an all-of-the-above, homegrown energy portfolio with the permitting reforms the industry desperately needs.

A girl can dream, right?

Heather Reams is President of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES).

Read the full op-ed here.

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