Climate Breakthrough? Emerging Conservative Solutions
It was going to happen sooner or later –Republicans are starting to talk about conservative solutions to climate change. The dithering in denial is ending. During the last week of 2015, the Republican-controlled Congress passed a bill authorizing very significant extensions of the solar and wind tax credits, and now there’s this…
On the editorial page of The New York Times yesterday, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski co-authored an op-ed with entrepreneur Jay Faison urging more hydro power in America. Murkowski is the Senate Energy Committee Chair. Faison is a conservative businessman. And The New York Times is, well, The New York Times. The piece assumes climate change is real, and presents an innovative solution that both parties might get behind.
This is important for at least three reasons. First, conservatives may well have better solutions than the progressives. Complicated regulatory schemes that rely on the mostly administrative actions by the federal government are probably not the most effective or popular solutions for America. Second, it might help trigger a lessening of the vitriolic, polarizing partisanship facing America, and enable us to make progress on other major issues taunting our society. Finally and most important, the shift will help solidify, amplify, and accelerate action to address climate change.
Actions publicly committed to by America and the world so far only get us halfway to the carbon pollution reductions we need to maintain a reasonably healthy planet. So we need to keep moving forward. This is a big step.
By Lisa Murkowski and Jay Faison, contributors to The New York Times
President Obama has described climate change as one of the biggest challenges facing our country and has said he is open to new ideas to address it. He can start by supporting legislation to increase the nation’s hydropower capacity, one of our vital renewable energy resources.
Hydropower harnesses the force of flowing water to generate electricity. It already produces about 6 percent of the nation’s electricity and nearly half of its renewable energy, more than wind and solar combined. This is enough electricity to power 30 million homes and, according to the Department of Energy, avoids some 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That amounts to taking about 40 million cars off the road for one year.
But we could be doing much more to harness the huge potential of hydropower, even without building new dams.
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