Op-ed: How the U.S. Should Prioritize Clean Energy Innovation Investment to Reduce Global Emissions 

WASHINGTON — Today, RealClearEnergy published an op-ed by CRES President Heather Reams highlighting the importance of securing funding for clean energy innovation in order to bolster U.S. emissions reduction, manufacturing competitiveness and energy security.

Read the full op-ed here or below:

Things in the nation’s capital are heating up, and I don’t just mean the rising temperatures from the summer heat dome. Inside the walls of the U.S. Capitol, lawmakers and their staff are hustling to get federal spending bills approved.  

For organizations like Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), appropriations season is an opportunity to bolster the United States’ status as a leader in global emissions reduction. With the impending November election, the expiration of several clean energy initiatives on the horizon and an ever-growing national debt, securing targeted funding for offices and programs that usher in a new generation of clean energy technologies, advance American manufacturing competitiveness, enhance our energy security and reduce reliance on adversarial nations like China is paramount.  

CRES is working to ensure clean, affordable and reliable energy remains a national priority, and this priority can and should go hand-in-hand with fiscal responsibility. There are several key programs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – with sound implementation and appropriate oversight from Congress – that will help achieve this goal while advancing American economic interests and reducing global emissions. These programs have the additional benefit of boosting local economies and leveraging the job creation that comes with capital investment by the private sector.    

For example, one of the most promising sources of reliable, clean energy is hydrogen. Not only can hydrogen reduce emissions in hard-to-decarbonize industrial applications, but it can also be harnessed to strengthen the grid through power generation and energy storage.  

With dozens of countries around the globe adopting explicit national hydrogen strategies, the United States can and should leverage American innovation and industry to lead to this sector.  

However, like any developing new and competitive energy resource, building a hydrogen economy comes upfront costs. This has been true for previous energy priorities, including nuclear energy and hydraulic fracturing.  Fortunately, crosscutting initiatives by DOE can accelerate research, development, demonstration and deployment of hydrogen technologies and provide needed leverage of private sector investment and reduce risk for American entrepreneurs and businesses in their efforts to break ground on new projects.  

Integral to these efforts and more is the power of public-private partnerships under the watchful eye of congressional oversight. DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) and Loan Programs Office (LPO) play a key role, and both offices have set in motion numerous multi-year project awards and collaborative partnerships that incentivize domestic manufacturing and clean tech leadership.  

Just a few months ago, LPO announced their intention to provide more than $2 billion to Lithium Americas to help finance a critical material processing facility in Nevada. A strong domestic clean energy economy must prioritize onshoring critical mineral supply chains and reducing our reliance on countries like China for products crucial to clean energy technologies. This project is an important step and has the added benefit of creating thousands of jobs and boosting the Nevada economy. 

Of course, delivering affordable, reliable and clean energy to homes and businesses across the nation to meet the projected dramatic increase in demand for electricity in the coming years requires an expanded power grid. This is why funding for the Grid Deployment Office (GDO) continues to be a priority, and there is bipartisan agreement. Earlier this year, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) led a letter signed by 42 of her colleagues on both sides of the political aisle in support of GDO’s work to create a resilient and modernized power grid.  

The fate of renewed funding for these important programs lies with Congress, but there is reason for optimism. Republicans across the country are embracing an all-of-the-above energy portfolio and understand the importance of strengthening America’s energy leadership; responsible spending and targeted investments in these programs are the way to accomplish this. 

The United States needs more—not less—clean and reliable electricity to meet our growing energy demand. While there are many competing priorities this appropriations season, driving U.S. innovation and reducing global emissions deserves a spotlight. I am proud of the work CRES has done to build bipartisan consensus behind these initiatives, and we will continue to advocate for programs that result in more clean, homegrown energy development and economic growth. 

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

Read the full op-ed here.

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