America is a nation of innovators. We are also a nation of enormous natural resources. Congress should lead in carefully crafting a climate policy which allows us to effectively marry those two assets, so that we can achieve the kind of sustainable energy and economic future we all desire.
My hope is that our legislative branch will work with all stakeholders to craft a climate policy that will guide this nation’s efforts in managing the emission of greenhouse gases and in mitigating the affects of the climate change phenomena.
A major portion of that policy guidance will assist the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in meeting the responsibilities that the Supreme Court has said it is obligated to take on. One can understand that members of the United States Senate are more than a bit frustrated by the difficulty and the complexity of the assignment. One can also sympathize with Senator Murkowski from Alaska who seems to be fearful of what the EPA will do in the absence of Congressional action. Her constituents, better than many Americans, see the dramatic impacts of the climate shifts that are manifest across the globe.
However, the issue should raise concern — not so much with EPA, as with any process that would purport to move to act unilaterally to manage the world’s most prolific emitter. The Senator is correct to be skeptical of any proposal that is not the product of a very broad, participatory process. And, even though that process might not be the most efficient or the most effective; efficiency and effectiveness are, at this point, less important than the fact that a broad spectrum of the American public needs to have ownership of the process and the product. The only way that we, as a nation, get that chance at ownership is if the Congress steps up to its responsibility and works openly and aggressively to fashion the path forward.
Energy policies and energy technologies are rather complicated. But one thing is quite clear. America and other countries around the globe will need to drive more capital into a diverse array of fuels for the next many decades if the essential needs of people are going to be met. It would be imprudent to implement any regulation that directly discourages investment in our energy industry.
While Washington officials continue to hash out these contentious issues, many American businesses are already working to develop and commercialize cleaner fuels and more efficient technologies. Some are researching ways to produce and distribute more sustainable forms of energy — including biofuel, solar, wind, biomass nuclear, and natural gas. Others are focused on ways to efficiently capture and store carbon or to burn coal more cleanly.
The fact is that the more clean options American businesses and American families have the better off we will be economically and environmentally.
To leave to the administration the responsibility to design, develop and promulgate a system to address the nation’s efforts to manage GHG emissions to mitigate climate change will ultimately result in the public criticism, finger-pointing, and lack of acceptance. Neither stripping EPA of the ability to act, nor forcing EPA to act without Congressional guidance is in the best interest of the people of this or any nation. Unless all three arms of government, executive, judicial, and legislative, are onboard, any efforts will be counterproductive and will only serve to delay effective progress.