Republicans look to cool tensions after attacking renewables

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

House Republicans are looking to cool partisan bickering on energy policy following the Texas blackouts and the GOP’s efforts to blame renewables.

In a letter to President Biden yesterday, a group of 35 Republicans urged the White House to engage in a more constructive dialogue about the country’s energy strategy, including a call for paying more attention to baseload power resources.

The plea for bipartisan cooperation comes in the aftermath of the cold snap that left millions of people without power across the American heartland, with the Texas electric grid poorly prepared for extreme winter temperatures. Problems emerged with both renewable and fossil fuel energy sources.

“It is long past time that elected officials, pundits, business organizations, and environmental lobbyists put down their pitchforks and come to the table to have an honest discussion about the future of America’s energy strategy,” the group said.

Led by Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), the letter is an olive branch following more than a week of partisan shots.

Republicans, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Crenshaw, quickly pointed to wind power’s struggles amid the freeze.

Democrats cited Texas’ own grid operator, which placed more of the blame on natural gas, coal and nuclear for their poor performances (E&E Daily, Feb. 22).

Republicans are now looking to downplay accusations against renewable energy in favor of a more fuel-neutral stance on the need for baseload power.

“We have records demonstrating support for renewable energy technologies, and we expect their use to expand in the coming years,” the group said. “But the United States simply cannot afford to continue pushing a renewables-only energy strategy to the detriment of abundant and reliable baseload sources, including nuclear and natural gas.”

Not mentioned in the call for more dialogue: any direct acknowledgement of climate change, although the letter does note that “the consideration of environmental impacts is essential to any policymaking relating to energy.”

The president has been adamant about the need to address the climate crisis as one of the core tenets of his administration. That includes a call for a $2 trillion investment in clean energy infrastructure and research and development.

The White House has maintained that the Texas crisis underscores the need for grid investments as a way to update and promote the deployment of additional clean energy sources and shield the infrastructure from extreme weather.