Op-Ed in the Roanoke Times: Griffith: Innovation will reduce carbon emissions

A recent letter to the editor claimed that I had not offered a plan to address climate change as an alternative to the “Green New Deal.” This is incorrect. The writer would find in my weekly newsletter, comments in committee and on the House floor, press statements, and elsewhere dozens of calls for research, technological innovation, and “all of the above” energy policies.

I believe any effective plan to counter climate change must be based in science, rely on America’s technological strengths and bountiful natural resources, and have a global vision. I have supported policies that meet these criteria, but the Green New Deal fails on each count and cannot be taken seriously as a way to improve the environment.

First, any plan to reduce carbon emissions needs to rely on accurate scientific data and predictions.

While the data indicates a changing climate due in part to human activities, it does not support the doomsday scenarios sometimes offered by those calling for extreme action. For instance, Al Gore’s dire 2006 predictions have not come true, and the world will not end in twelve years, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently suggested.

As with any problem, overheated rhetoric will not move us closer to solutions. Depending on science to understand all the causes and extent of climate change will allow us to craft policies that prudently address its effects.

Second, a plan to reduce America’s carbon emissions should embrace our vast supply of natural resources and our talent for technological innovation, national strengths that powered our economic rise. Green New Deal advocates grandly compare their effort to the race to put a man on the moon, but they sharply restrict the scope of research and innovation, convinced that only renewables like wind and solar power offer the opportunity for a cleaner future.

Far more room exists for exploration and innovation in the energy space, whether by federal agencies, our national labs, universities, or the private sector. Innovation has allowed fossil fuels to be used in a more environmentally-safe fashion, and technologies such as carbon capture promise to build on that progress.

I have introduced and supported bills that develop a wide array of energy resources, including legislation to promote closed-loop pumped storage hydropower and to facilitate construction of hydropower projects. These measures have been signed into law by President Trump. Additionally, a grant program I brought to Virginia is on track to support a large solar project to be built on abandoned mine land.

I have also encouraged my colleagues in Congress to back broad energy research and development, including by increasing funding for research at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Finally, my plan expects America to be a leader for cleaner energy in a world that still depends on fossil fuels.

The America of the Green New Deal is no leader. That plan expects us to dismantle our economy and fundamentally alter our lifestyle to cut carbon emissions.

But such an exercise in self-destruction would be pointless. How would it change the behavior of China, the world’s largest polluter, or India, another rising economy emitting increased carbon? It is illogical to think that developing nations are going to impoverish their people by not using fossil fuels.

European countries are struggling to meet their current commitments to emission reduction. They have shown even they can’t or won’t adhere to the precepts of a Green New Deal.

Instead, America can lead the way toward a cleaner environment, recognizing the world will not soon give up fossil fuels.

American technology and environmental standards ensure that we extract, develop, and use fossil fuels in a far more environmentally-conscious manner than most other countries.

American exports can include not just cleaner fuel, but with additional research, our advanced technology could guarantee an improved global environment. By doing so, the economic climate as well as the actual climate would improve.

I support government policies that allow us to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions.

The Green New Deal is an ideological agenda, not a realistic approach to climate change. It promotes a vast expansion of government, a government ready to interfere in our daily lives in the name of environmentalism.

I support sensible policies to cut carbon emissions that, guided by science, will utilize America’s strengths to secure a better environment. Critics of this approach may not share my perspective, but they cannot factually say it is not a plan.


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