House Republicans unveil energy, climate strategy

Source: By RACHEL FRAZIN, The Hill • Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2022

Greg Nash

House Republicans are launching a new energy and climate strategy as the party seeks to win over voters ahead of the midterm elections, though green groups have immediately criticized the plans as insufficient.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who leads the House GOP’s task force on energy, climate and conservation, told reporters Thursday that the plans being unveiled by the party are guided by affordability, emissions reduction and energy security.

“We are aggressively pursuing meeting this global energy demand spike … with U.S. resources. That means U.S. innovation, it means U.S. renewable energy technologies and, yes, it means conventional energy sources like oil and gas,” Graves said.

A portion of the plan unveiled Thursday focuses on legislation promoting oil and gas, mining for critical minerals, and hydropower, according to an outline obtained by The Hill.

Critical minerals are used in renewable energy technologies. Hydropower is also renewable, but according to the Energy Information Association, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from hydropower reservoirs is uncertain.

Meanwhile, oil and gas are major climate change contributors.

Republicans have long argued that the United States’ regulatory system makes its fossil fuels less harmful than those in other countries, though climate advocates have called for widespread reductions in fossil fuel use to prevent global warming.

Graves said that other components of the plan include promoting innovation and conservation “with a purpose,” defeating Russia and China, “letting America build” and fostering community resilience to climate.

The GOP plan was met with instant criticism from environmental organizations.

“This would be laughable as a climate agenda in 2022 except there is absolutely nothing funny about the climate crisis or Congressional Republicans’ obstruction of desperately needed solutions in the name of lining the pockets of their corporate allies and big oil polluters who fund their campaigns,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters.

The plan comes as Republicans for months have hammered the Biden administration amid high gasoline prices. While experts say that presidents often have limited influence on prices, Republicans have sought to use the issue to make their cases to the voters in November.

On a national level, many Republicans have shunned the climate issue, with Republicans having no climate plan as part of their 2016 or 2020 election platforms.

Many of the policies put forward by the Republicans face an uphill battle garnering support from the Biden administration, and Graves acknowledged that part of the purpose of the plan is to show the American people the GOP plan.

“One of the objectives here is being very clear to the American public that we recognize there’s an energy crisis and we recognize the causes of this energy crisis,” he said.

But he also said that he believes that after the midterms, more Democrats will get on board.

“I think that you’re going to see a significant sobering as a result of the election and I think that you’re gonna see some Democrats absolutely embracing components of our plan,” he added.

The policies come from an Energy, Climate, and Conservation Task Force — one of seven policy task forces created by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

An energy industry source told The Hill that they viewed the effort as a “good first step” but said it may need to have more regulatory components to make an impact.

“When the Trump administration surprisingly won in 2016, climate fell off the agenda for the party. If they take over, that can’t happen again,” the source said. “And this is a sign that it won’t.”