• July 15, 2019

    Momentum Building for Practical, Impactful Climate Solutions

The conventional wisdom has been that there was simply no appetite in Congress this year to take meaningful, effective steps to address climate change. It’s argued that the issue is not a priority for the Trump Administration, and there has seemingly been far too much division on Capitol Hill for Republicans and Democrats to work together on this important issue.

But the conventional wisdom may be once again wrong, and we aren’t surprised.  We have always believed there is much common ground on which all sides of the discussion could come together to address climate change with policies that are practical, flexible, predictable, and durable. Throughout the year, we’ve been working with members of Congress, publicly and privately, to identify practical solutions.

I testified before the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and our team at the Chamber has been working with diverse coalitions to urge Congress to prioritize a number of clean energy programs, outlined specific, solutions-focused legislation that we support.

There is still much work to be done, but there are now signs of progress.  This week, the Senate Energy Committee will consider a package of bills that will help the Department of Energy (DOE) take the next step to make American energy cleaner and stronger. We are pleased to endorse bills such as the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA, S.903), which will facilitate the next generation of clean and safe nuclear energy resources, and the Launching Energy Advancement and Development through Innovations for Natural Gas Act (LEADING Act, S.1685) which will accelerate DOE’s development of promising carbon capture technology for natural gas power plants.

Later this week, Senators Portman and Shaheen are poised to reintroduce the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act.  Bolstering industry’s phenomenal progress producing more economic output while using less energy has long been a Chamber priority and we will push hard to finally get it enacted this Congress.

Next week,  the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee may be advancing its own package of bills, updating and expanding DOE programs that support solar, wind, and clean fossil fuel technologies. Meanwhile, we are pleased to be working closely with members of Congress to ensure other priority areas also receive attention. These include an effort by Senator Whitehouse to establish an emissions-reduction technology program for the often overlooked industrial sector, Senator Collins Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act as well as other energy storage bills, and the House of Representatives’ reauthorization of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Clearly, there is a lot going on, but the breadth of the effort matches the breadth of the challenge. New and some cases revolutionary advances are needed, and the Chamber will continue to advocate for policies designed to lower the cost and improve the performance of lower-emitting and more efficient technologies. When new technologies are able to compete on price, reliability, and scalability, the range of politically and economically acceptable policy options to address climate change will broaden accordingly and deliver truly global solutions.

So while many may focus on partisan gridlock and throw up their hands in exasperation, we continue to be optimistic that the moment is ripe to pass a package of what could turn out to be the most important and impactful climate and energy solutions legislation in over a decade, if not longer.  And later this month, we’ll be hosting some of our nation’s top energy innovators for our EnergyInnovates: All In summit where we will aim to continue the momentum.