A Green New Deal — from the GOP?
Washington, October 21, 2020
The GOP’s alternative. This past February, four months after McCarthy attended the conference in Georgia, the minority leader and seven of his allies in the House of Representatives — Garret Graves of Louisiana, Greg Walden of Oregon, Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, David Schweikert of Arizona, David McKinley of West Virginia, Dan Crenshaw of Texas, and Bruce Westerman of Arkansas — introduced an alternative to the Green New Deal composed of four bills.
The centerpiece of the plan is a deceptively simple proposal to plant more trees. Westerman, a former forester, introduced the Trillion Trees Act. The bill directs the United States to take a “leadership role” in implementing an existing World Economic Forum initiative to sequester carbon by planting one trillion trees worldwide. (On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order that will emphasize US support for the initiative by setting up an interagency council dedicated to coordinating the planting of trees domestically.) The Trillion Trees Act also promotes logging as a method of sequestering carbon. The idea is that planting new trees and cutting them down creates a loop that helps fight climate change. But that cycle has faced pushback from environmentalists, Democrats, and climate scientists who say it creates more emissions than it sequesters.
The other proposed legislation in the House Republicans’ plan would establish a carbon capture program at the Department of Energy, expand an existing tax credit for power plants that capture carbon dioxide before it’s emitted, and promote the development and deployment of carbon capture technologies, while ensuring quicker permitting of such projects. They do not set a target date, or interim goals, for slashing emissions. In The New Republic, journalist Kate Aronoff called the plan “a package only a fossil fuel executive could love.” McCarthy says more pieces of the plan are forthcoming.
Republicans haven’t simply advanced ideas from their caucus — they’ve dabbled in bipartisanship as well. Prior to the Republican climate package’s introduction, McKinley, the representative from West Virginia, co-wrote an op-ed in USA Today with his House colleague Kurt Schrader, a Democrat from Oregon, calling climate change “the greatest environmental and energy challenge of our time.” To meet this challenge at scale, they proposed a decade of public and private investment in clean energy and infrastructure. Those investments, they said, could be followed up by new regulatory standards that ensure the United States reaches its targets. In their proposal, the federal government would require the use of clean technologies as they become commercially viable, and states would lead the way on setting ambitious emissions targets. It basically flips the Green New Deal’s premise — bold federal spending to combat rising emissions — on its head.Click here for the full article.