In 2015, Republicans Warmed Up To Energy Reform
As originally published in The Daily Caller: here
President, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions
I give the Democratic Party credit. For years, left-wing politicians have seized upon climate policy to portray Republican candidates as out of touch with mainstream voters. However 2015 was the year some Republicans said “enough” by advancing renewable energy policies that enhance our economic, national and environmental security.
In 2014, Harry Reid excoriated the then-Republican minority as being beholden to “multizillionaire” polluters. The Nevada Democrat claimed “climate-denying Republicans” represented a more ominous threat to the planet than climate change. However, Democrats learned a tough lesson that November that messaging is not akin to action, no matter how much money you put behind it.
In January, just hours after President Barack Obama attacked Republicans in his State of the Union address for dodging the issue of climate change, fifteen Republicans voted with Democrats to affirm that global warming is “real and not a hoax.” Further, five Senate Republicans voted alongside Democrats in support of a related amendment that humans were “significantly” responsible for climate change.
2015 also saw a variety of conservative-backed, pro-business initiatives and acts of legislation that directly address America’s aging energy infrastructure. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski has already introduced 17 bills to modernize renewable energy development. Senator Rob Portman successfully won approval of the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, which was signed into law this past spring. The Better Buildings Act, sponsored by Senator Kelly Ayotte, was incorporated into this landmark legislation to encourage energy efficiency in commercial buildings. And Senator Richard Burr lead the charge among Republicans to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservative Fund
Senator Susan Collins also joined with Kelly Ayotte and Mark Kirk to support the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) after fighting for the incorporation of flexibility rules for states that already adhere to rigorous emission reduction rates. Meanwhile, Senators Lamar Alexander, Mark Kirk and Lindsey Graham, joined Ayotte in announcing the formation of a Senate Energy and Environment Working Group with the dual focus of protecting the environment and creating jobs.
In advance of the Pope’s visit to Capitol Hill last fall, eleven House Republicans signed onto a resolution affirming that human activity contributes to climate change. They also endorsed action to respond to the threat of Earth’s changing climate. A number of these House members turned words into legislative action when nine Republicans opposed efforts to dismantle the Clean Power Plan.
Conservative progress on renewable energy reform is evident beyond Capitol Hill as well. In what has become a standard sentiment of Republican primary voters found in surveys conducted by CRES and ClearPath this year, more and more grassroots activists are ready for our leaders to improve America’s outdated energy infrastructure:
- A CRES survey showed 82 percent of Republicans believe that energy policy, specifically the exploration of and development of both traditional and renewable energy sources should be a high priority.
- According to ClearPath, 56 percent of Republicans think the climate is changing and human activity is playing a role.
From military leaders and corporate CEOs to conservative thought leaders, more Republicans than ever before are embracing the value of seizing upon domestic clean energy production to meet our nation’s climate challenges. In 2016, CRES will continue to elevate these voices and make the conservative case for modernizing America’s outdated approach to renewable energy policy and development. Beyond expanding our footprint of clean energy activists and candidate engagement inside presidential battleground states, we are also committed to supporting Republican allies and encouraging all conservatives to grasp the potential clean energy policy has to bolster job creation, domestic manufacturing, environmental quality, and national security.
Thanks to the principled work of conservative, moderate, and even libertarian-minded Republicans, Harry Reid’s pessimistic threats have failed to materialize. Even more disastrous for Democrats is that Republican members of the House and Senate have illustrated, through legislative action, that clean air and water policies are no longer partisan issues. I am confident that voters across the political spectrum will support even more robust conservative leadership on our climate challenges during the year ahead.
James Dozier serves as Executive Director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.