GOP Senators Propose Climate Plan “Lite”

November 3, 2021

I’m working on a video examining how Republicans are trying to find their footing on climate. The issue is continuing to grow in importance, and their credibility is low.

Washington Times:

A group of Republican senators is introducing a clean energy and climate strategy today that challenges the Biden administration and Democrats’ agenda of massively expanding clean energy while reducing fossil fuel production and use.

Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming — all representing major oil and gas producing states — are releasing the “American Energy, Jobs, and Climate” plan, which aims to cut global emissions up to 40% from today’s levels by 2050, according to a fact sheet obtained exclusively by Josh.

The plan is notable in that Republicans are setting an emissions reduction target (which they haven’t done before).

George David Banks, former international energy adviser in the Trump administration, told Josh that energy-related carbon emissions being 40% less in 2050 would represent a significant change from today.

It’s less aggressive than net-zero pledges most world leaders are now calling for in order to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, but those targets are being set domestically, not globally. He said reducing global emissions by 40% would necessarily require substantial cuts from the U.S.

“People will just dismiss it because it’s not net-zero, but in reality it’s substantial,” Banks said. “If you have a global goal and are designing policy around that, you are acknowledging U.S. responsibility for global emissions. We haven’t done this before.”

But by focusing on global emissions and not setting aside a U.S. goal, Republicans are swiping at President Joe Biden and Democrats for aiming to cut domestic emissions in half by 2030.

Proponents say that an aggressive domestic target inspires the rest of the world to do more. Republicans say U.S. targets mean nothing without international emission reductions, especially from China (the U.S. and China combine for about 40% of global emissions).

Ok, so what’s in it? The plan calls for familiar ideas favored by Republicans, such as developing and deploying clean energy technologies, including carbon capture, advanced nuclear reactors, and battery storage, and exporting those innovations abroad.

It also aims to “revitalize” manufacturing of renewable energy technologies in the U.S, such as solar panels and wind turbines, to lessen dependence on China — a goal shared by Democrats.

And it seeks to reform permitting of energy, infrastructure, and mining projects to ensure they can be built faster.

The plan would “export America’s innovations — not our jobs — and in turn, reduce global emissions,” said Heather Reams, president of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a conservative clean energy group.

Fossil fuels remain dividing line: Republican senators diverge from Democrats most glaringly in promoting an expansion of natural gas production at home, while exporting more LNG abroad, which they say would displace dirtier coal in developing countries with growing energy demand. The Republicans don’t acknowledge any need to reduce fossil fuel use or development. They make clear they continue to oppose “mandates, regulations, and taxes.” That would seem to include regulation of methane emissions.

Addressing methane leaks is not mentioned, despite it being a major problem facing the oil and gas industry that raises doubts about Republican claims that natural gas is a “clean” solution for decades to come.


8 Responses to “GOP Senators Propose Climate Plan “Lite””

  1. mboli Says:

    The Senate Climate Solutions Caucus is a group of 14 Senators (half Republicans, half Democrats and Independents) which claims to take addressing climate change seriously. In the two years since the caucus formed they introduced two bills:
    — Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage act, which would promote what the title says both domestically and through international cooperation. It was introduced just before the end of the last term and died in committee.
    — Growing Climate Solutions act, which would make it easier for farmers and landowners to participate in selling carbon credits. Primarily the act creates an Ag Dept. service to provide technical assistance to farmers and land owners, and a certification program. This passed the Senate 92-8 this spring, and has gone nowhere in the House.

    So far the 7 theoretically most-committed Republican senators have managed to agree on: trees are good.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Can we even keep up with the loss from all of the wildfires?

      • ecoquant Says:

        Policy always seems to lag science, with Congress being the slowest. Even things like Project Drawdown seem to miss these, led by plant optimists like Allan Savory.

        Afforestation has been long doubted by forestry botanists as “the answer” for various complicated reasons ranging from biomass being temporary (80 years) storage for most trees to Nitrogen and water limitations, to concerns about health and excessive diversity in mycorrhizal fungi, to projections of reduced Carbon sequestration as the world warms.

        Two recent peer reviewed reports add to the picture. One uses widespread satellite measurements to estimate CO2 flux across forests at scale. The second reports n a multi-year effort at afforestation in northern Indis.

        The first shows many forests, whether due to poor health or youth or condition of formerly agricultural sols are not only neither sinks nor sources of CO2, that is, they do noting, but some are CO2 sources. For example almost all of New England’s forests contribute nothing on the CO2 balance, except I’m the northern parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, where there is some sink. New Hampshire has the additional problem that the granitic chemistry of its soils inhibit good mycorrhiza fungal growth. From a faunal perspective, except for the deep fforests of northern New England, ecosystems have been cut up by development and marshes drained. Many forests were heavily logged.this has taken its toll.

        Northern India’s experiment reports afforestation failed, because most new trees died, and the composition and cover of existing forest was unchanged. Note standard agricultural responses like fertilizer cannot be used in these applications because not only is fertilizer highly emissive in its production, it decomposes into N2O in part, which is a powerful centennial scale greenhouse gas. BTW, there is no known chemical technique for extracting N2O from atmosphere.

        While stands of trees may look pretty, more than appearances are needed to do natural negative emissions properly. And a bunch of plants that look green are not necessarily healthy.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          Well, as I’ve droned here often enough, tree-planting (done appropriately, and not in bulk monocultures) has its own value in so many other worthwhile applications. Hike for KaTREEna, for example, was one woman’s effort to get donations to restore 2,175 of the trees lost to Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area based on the number of miles she would hike on the Appalachian Trail (they’ve since upped the goal and planted the 50 thousandth tree last year).

          Tree projects used to be pretty well-thought-out and useful until corporate green-bean-counters glommed onto it.

  2. ecoquant Says:

    Notable, but the process that’s called the United States Constitution has no way of finding out about the implications of geophysics and climate science. It only believes “the society of minds” and a highly imperfect set of minds at that.

    Also the policymakers, Republican or, sometimes, Democrat fail to understand that “the solution” to deterioration of [i]the climate is zero emissions[/i], not merely reducing them.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Senate construction favors the red rural states with low populations.
      The ~39m population of California has 2 US senators
      The ~39m population of WY, AK, ND, SD, MT, WV, ID, NB, KS, MS, AR, IA, UT, OK, KY, and LA has 32 US senators.

      “You legislate with the constitutional anachronisms you have rather than the democratic institutions you wish you had.”
      —Scott Lemieux

  3. It is only through the Senate that Joe Biden can do anything. He has to try if there is room for a bipartisan compromis. Something is always better then nothing.

  4. The plan’s title includes Climate. However, Senator Sullivan’s presentation comes across as the same old culture war.

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