CRES annually honors Republican leaders who have gone above and beyond in driving and supporting clean energy legislation as our Clean Energy Champions and announces the winners during National Clean Energy Week (NCEW). We will be profiling each of this year’s Champions in more depth on the CRES blog; the first Champion we profiled was U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.
Our second 2021 Champion is U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R-IN). Elected to the Senate in 2018, Sen. Braun has made his mark quickly by launching the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus his first year in office.
Also in 2019, Sen. Braun was a featured speaker at National Clean Energy Week’s Policy Makers Symposium; click here to watch his speech.
“I was a conservationist way before I was a conservative and an entrepreneur,” he explained to the Symposium audience. “I’ve been interested in mother nature since the days I was daydreaming out the window as a fifth grader and noticed a swallow called a purple martin.”
Sen. Braun is a native Hoosier and attended Indiana’s Wabash College. He earned his MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1978. Prior to entering public service, he was the founder and CEO of Meyer Distributing, a company he built in his hometown of Jasper that employs hundreds of Americans across the country. His political career began in 2004 as a member of his hometown’s school board, and he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives ten years later, where he served until being elected to the U.S. Senate.
Having worked with his father’s business manufacturing truck bodies for farmers, Sen. Braun is very proud of Indiana’s agriculture community—representing them on the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he introduced the Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act.
So far, his signature legislative achievement is the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA). Introduced with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), GCSA passed the Senate this summer by an impressive vote of 92-8. The legislation empowers farmers to be part of the climate solution on a voluntary basis and creates options for individuals and small businesses to offset carbon emissions without mandates. There are two key strengths of this voluntary approach—first, it reduces barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters through a clear framework and technical assistance; and second, it provides a means for verifying emissions reductions to build confidence in the marketplace.
It’s the first piece of legislation to take inspiration from our “voluntary framework” concept. The CRES team worked with Sen. Braun’s staff to help craft early drafts of this legislation. CRES Forum Vice-President of Policy and Advocacy, Charles Hernick, initially conceived of the idea of a voluntary framework as a conservative and limited federal climate policy.
The bill quickly gained the support of a diverse group of organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, Environmental Defense Fund, McDonald’s, Microsoft, and more than 40 farm groups, environmental organizations, and Fortune 500 companies.
“Senators Braun and Graham are to be commended for putting forth practical, free-market solutions that support a clean, healthy environment while creating new economic opportunities for hard-working American farmers,” said Heather Reams, executive director of CRES at the beginning of an ad campaign last summer thanking the senators.
Congratulations, Sen. Braun! CRES looks forward to continuing to work with all our Clean Energy Champions on important clean energy legislation in the coming years.