CRES annually honors Republican leaders in our government who have gone above and beyond driving and supporting clean energy legislation. The four 2021 awardees were formally recognized at the CRES Clean Energy Champions Reception the second day of National Clean Energy Week (NCEW). We will be profiling each of this year’s Champions in more depth on the CRES blog.
This year’s honorees include U.S Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who most recently worked to develop and pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This infrastructure package includes commonsense policies introduced by Sen. Portman, such as the Federal Permitting Reform and Jobs Act and the Carbon Capture Improvement Act—legislation that would streamline the process for power plants and industrial facilities to finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage equipment, and direct-air capture projects through the use of private activity bonds.
Sen. Portman is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC). As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, he led the effort in the Senate to reauthorize and fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which helps to protect Ohio’s Lake Erie. He also serves as co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus.
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Sen. Portman attended Dartmouth College and earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. He practiced law for several years before becoming an associate White House Counsel under President George H. W. Bush. From 1993 to 2005, Sen. Portman served Ohio’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives before being appointed as U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.
In 2010, Ohioans elected him to serve in the U.S. Senate. CRES endorsed his 2016 re-election campaign “due to his focus on energy efficiency legislation and promoting commonsense, free-market solutions that grow the economy, strengthen America’s national security, and provide affordable energy to homes and businesses across America.”
In an effort to address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at the National Parks Service (NPS) in 2018, Sen. Portman helped introduce the Restore Our Parks Act. The bill established the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” from existing unobligated revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. Notably, the measure was aimed at addressing the more than $100 million maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national park sites.
This bill led to the crafting of the Great American Outdoors Act—signed into law last year—which former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt called, “the most consequential dedicated funding for national parks, wildlife refuges, public recreation facilities and American Indian school infrastructure in U.S. history.”
Sen. Portman was also a key supporter of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA), which passed through the Senate this summer by a vote of 92-8. This bipartisan bill aims to reward farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners for sustainable farming practices by expanding access to voluntary environmental credit markets.
Sen. Portman is retiring after his current term, but there is no doubt he will continue to champion clean energy and conservation for years to come as a private citizen.