Welcome to another recap of another busy week of highs and lows. Without further ado…
This week’s must read: A new brand of Republicans: The rise of conservatives conservationists (Columbus Dispatch) “We’re just people who care about the environment.”
This week’s other must read: Seeking conservative converts to climate change cause (Albany Times Union) “I am supremely confident that we will win,” says Bob Inglis. “The question is whether we will win soon enough.”
Big bucks, no whammy: Republican Rep. John Faso from New York joined Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski from Illinois to introduce the Challenges and Prize for Climate Act of 2018, a bill which would establish a program called “Climate Solutions Challenges,” which will organize prize competitions on five topics, including carbon capture, energy efficiency, energy storage, climate resiliency, and data analytics to better understand climate or weather, or to better inform the public about those topics. “Increased efficiency and continued technological innovation in clean energy will help the U.S. economy grow in the coming decades,” said Faso, who is also a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus. “We should do all we can to incentivize progress and assist the private sector economy in innovating and inspiring technological changes which will reduce the impact of climate change.” They were joined on the GOP side of the cosponsor ledger by Florida’s Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Talk less, listen more: Echoing sentiment recently expressed by her colleague Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins noted that the state of U.S. politics is “more polarized” than it has ever been. “We are tending to view those who disagree with us politically as the enemy rather than as someone who has a different viewpoint,” Collins said. “We are losing the opportunity to get to know one another and to be exposed to different philosophies.” The senior senator, serving in her fourth term, has a reputation for deal brokering and crossing party lines on tough votes. “Republicans have been slower to evolve,” she noted, referring to issues such as climate change. “That has driven away a lot of young people.” Collins said that “neither party has the monopoly on good ideas,” and called to “restore a sense of civility and a respect for different viewpoints. People should not have to be fearful that if they are a conservative and speak up, then they are going to lose friends.”
Here comes the sun: Former GOP lawmaker and utility regulator Andy Tobin is pushing for Arizona to harness the sun for a greater percentage of the state’s power needs. Tobin, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, released a plan to have 80 percent of Arizona’s electricity come from clean energy sources, including solar, wind, biomass, and nuclear power, by 2050. His plan also calls for 3 gigawatts, or 3,000 megawatts, of energy storage by 2030, which would be the largest energy-storage mandate in the country. Arizona already has the third largest installed solar capacity in the country, and according to Tobin, “most coal will be gone here by 2050.”
“This plan won’t be inexpensive, but it will save in the long run,” Tobin said. “This is a part of the Arizona mantra and history. Let’s be creative. Let’s be the first in mind. Let’s be the ones who plan well together.” Tobin’s plan, which he refers to as the “Energy Modernization Plan,” must be approved by Arizona’s five elected utility commission members. “With the concerns we are facing our forest fires have been worse, our summers have been hotter, we are amidst a droughtwe need some economic sense.”
We can do it! Republican Senators John Kennedy, Susan Collins and Bill Cassidy joined Democratic colleagues to introduce the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, a bill which would accelerate the EPA’s phaseout of harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) in accordance with the terms of the amended Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Montreal Protocol is considered the most successful international environmental treaty, and the Kigali Amendments to the protocol lay out a timeline for global phaseout of HFCs, commonly found in older coolants and refrigerants. “America’s manufacturing industry is an integral part of our economy and has long been a source of pride as well as quality, good-paying jobs,” said Collins, who hails from Maine. “This legislation will accelerate the phase down of harmful pollutants with next-generation, environmentally safe coolant alternatives while boosting job growth, increasing innovation, and attracting future investments.” Louisiana’s Cassidy added: “American manufacturers are leading the way in using new technologies to develop environmentally-friendly substitutes for hydrofluorocarbons.”
“It’s not often that Democrats, Republicans, industry and environmental groups come together to agree on anything, but we are all in agreement on this one,” Kennedy, also from Louisiana, said.
HFCs are a potent greenhouse gas that accelerate climate change, originally brought to market to replace the ozone-depleting CFCs. The chemical industry has long supported their phaseout and are leading the manufacture of more environmentally friendly alternatives.
My crocuses are blooming. How about yours? As we bid February farewell, stay tuned for more from us.