CRES Letter to Congress: Reclaim American Energy Independence

Dear Leaders McConnell and McCarthy:

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has underscored a longstanding reality: energy security is national security and economic security. For Americans who were already experiencing higher energy costs, the added strain on energy prices because of the Russian invasion have brought the impacts of this faraway conflict close to home.

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) agrees with House and Senate Republicans that we must increase supply of American-produced oil and natural gas to help lower gas prices for consumers, increase energy security, and provide our global allies and partners the opportunity to meet their energy needs without being held hostage to hostile regimes. After all, America enjoys a carbon advantage over most countries and increased domestic production and exports will result in lower global greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Russian-produced natural gas transported by pipeline to Europe has approximately 41 percent higher life-cycle emissions (CO2 equivalent) than U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipped to the same destination. U.S. LNG displacing Russian natural gas in the global market translates to significantly lower global emissions.

While we support these immediate plans for energy security, Congress should not stop there because there is more work to be done. CRES encourages Congress to reclaim American energy independence by expediting the deployment of clean energy innovation. Doing so will not only enhance American energy security and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but it will also provide increased economic opportunity for American families by expanding U.S. jobs and manufacturing. Advancing affordable, clean, and reliable energy technologies is also vital to reducing both global and domestic gas emissions and ensuring a global export market for American clean energy manufacturers.

To meet this critical moment, Congress should seek commonsense solutions with an American clean energy agenda that focuses on the following areas:

  • Impactful Regulation & Permitting Improvements – Reducing obstacles that slow the deployment of vital energy infrastructure and technologies are critical to our energy security and reducing emissions. It is increasingly clear that building new and updating existing energy infrastructure is in the nation’s best interest. But navigating a maze of federal agencies, permits, siting requirements, and judicial obstacles has resulted in many good projects getting mired in bureaucracy, rather than being built. Congress should take the lead in reshaping these federal processes to promote timely outcomes, better agency coordination, and reduced litigation risks. Doing so will promote certainty and attract investments to make proposed projects a shovel-ready reality. This can be done without compromising environmental integrity. Project delays too often result in a delay of environmental benefits.
  • American Critical Minerals & Materials – To promote U.S. clean energy innovation and secure our energy independence, we must urgently look at our critical mineral supply chains and reverse a trend of dependency on places like China, Russia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. China is playing the long game by systematically gaining leverage over the inputs necessary to build and deploy U.S. renewable and battery technologies. This form of clean energy dependence threatens our national security. The U.S. is blessed with abundant natural resources, including a wealth of critical minerals. Congress should remove roadblocks to better enable environmentally responsible domestic mining, processing, and refining of critical minerals in the U.S. and through partnership with our allies. Mineral recycling and technology alternatives should also be part of a domestic mineral supply chain strategy.
  • Industrial Energy Innovation Research & Development – Industrial emissions from hard-to-decarbonize industrial sources like chemical, steel, fertilizer, and cement production, account for nearly a quarter of both global and domestic greenhouse gas emissions. While important progress has been made to maintain U.S. manufacturing leadership, Congress should ensure the U.S. Department of Energy’s investments in industrial research and innovation keep pace to develop solutions for a cleaner, more efficient, and competitive U.S. industrial and manufacturing sectors.
  • Clean Hydrogen – Both the private and public sectors increasingly view hydrogen as a promising energy alternative in the power, industrial, and transportation sectors. Hydrogen’s versatility as an energy carrier and feedstock – along with its lack of emissions at the point of use – makes it an attractive fuel source. This is especially true for hard-to-abate sectors like shipping, industry, and heavy-duty trucking. Congress should consider measures that further advance research and development, as well as incentives, that integrate hydrogen into our infrastructure, industry, heavy-duty trucking, and maritime industries.
  • S. Advanced Nuclear Energy – Nearly 50 countries are considering advanced nuclear power as part of their energy mix by 2050. The U.S. must lead the world in developing and commercializing advanced nuclear reactors that are smaller, safer, cheaper, and more efficient than conventional nuclear power technology. We cannot cede the global market for nuclear technologies to competitors like Russia and China. However, the existing regulatory structure to review and approve nuclear reactors is currently designed for large, conventional nuclear power plants. Congress should work to preserve the existing fleet and accelerate the implementation of a new review process tailored specifically to the technologies of tomorrow, including advanced small modular reactors. 
  • Natural Climate Solutions – Congress will have an opportunity to develop the 2023 Farm Bill in a way that recognizes and prioritizes the carbon reducing potential of climate-friendly agriculture practices and soil conservation. However, it can pass the bipartisan, bicameral legislation like the Growing Climate Solutions Act now, which demonstrates there is a working consensus for climate policies that are voluntary, innovative, market-oriented, and farmer-focused. This small but crucial step will help farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to capitalize on emerging market opportunities. 
  • Long-Duration, Grid Scale Energy Storage – Energy storage will play a vital role in integrating new energy sources while strengthening grid reliability. Congress should advance incentives needed to promote low-cost, long-duration energy storage, as well as opportunities for integration between vehicle and grid-scale technologies.
  • Cutting-Edge Carbon Capture & Utilization – Along with other technologies, carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) can play a critical role in reducing U.S. emissions from the power sector and industrial applications. Congress made sweeping, bipartisan updates to the Department of Energy’s clean energy research and development programs in the Energy Act of 2020 and in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. Among them were new and ambitious carbon capture and removal R&D programs. Congress should also enhance incentives for carbon capture utilization and storage projects to provide developers with longer-term certainty, which will help reduce emissions from heavy industry and the power sector.

CRES recognizes the potential in each of these policy areas. We look forward to working with you to advance sensible proposals that increase access to American resources and expedite innovative clean energy technology deployment. An effective energy strategy will enhance our national security, reduce global emissions, and provide American families with affordable and reliable energy.

 

Sincerely,

Heather Reams
CRES President

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