A Call to Action: Conservatives and Climate | Commentary
As Republicans, we know that our party’s foundation — built on fiscal conservatism, strong national security and family values — brings together Americans from diverse backgrounds. So it’s no surprise that we don’t always agree on every issue.
But combating climate change can and should bring fiscal, social and national security conservatives together. Why? Because protecting our environment and building a secure future for America is our greatest obligation — and our greatest opportunity. Whether you are convinced by climate science or not, promoting energy efficiency and clean, homegrown energy is good for the Republican Party and good for the country.
We are among the many conservatives who accept the scientific facts that show us the Earth is getting warmer, but we also understand that many of our fellow conservatives are uncertain about the impact humans are having on the climate. If we want to appeal to younger generations of voters and independents, we must stop fighting over the science of climate change and start focusing on the things that unite us as conservatives. We need to focus our political energy on advancing conservative, small-government solutions that will enhance our economic, national and environmental security. And as conservatives we owe it to ourselves, and to future generations, to be good stewards of God’s creation
If conservatives don’t start offering solutions and leading on domestic clean energy production, President Barack Obama and his liberal friends will push forward ineffective policies that wrap the environment in red tape, raise taxes, kill jobs and punish companies.
So let’s draw on our conservative values and come together to offer market-driven solutions to protect our climate and grow our economy. We can promote policies that create high-paying American jobs, give companies the opportunity to innovate and lead on bringing new clean energy technologies to market that reduces our need for oil from hostile nations.
We should look for ways to build on the momentum generated by Republicans such as Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who are proving that our party can lead on common-sense energy solutions. Portman co-sponsored the practical and bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, designed to help families, businesses and the federal government become more energy efficient. Gardner’s bipartisan energy efficiency bill would encourage federal agencies to enter into energy savings performance contracts that specify how much energy the agency will save. These common-sense solutions rely on public-private partnerships, encourage innovation, won’t add to the deficit and will save taxpayers an estimated $1 billion.
Clean and efficient energy matters to voters. In a recent survey commissioned by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, 76 percent of voters said that pursuing a comprehensive approach to energy is a priority. Further, 60 percent of voters believe we should place more emphasis on diversifying our energy sources to include renewables like wind, solar and hydro.
We believe it is smart for conservative leaders to support policies that will encourage the production of cheap, reliable and clean energy. We can do this by crafting targeted incentives and investments in research, and by changing regulations to reduce the burdens on the private sector in bringing new technologies to market.
Republicans who care about fiscal conservatism, national security and strong families can lead the way forward on a real “all of the above” approach to energy development. Such a comprehensive approach will ensure that America continues to lead the world in natural gas exploration, and that the free market drives clean energy development. It will keep high-paying wind and solar manufacturing jobs at home, rather than sending these jobs to China. And a common-sense, conservative approach to clean energy production will ensure our country has greater energy independence and security.
As we head toward another election, we encourage our fellow Republicans to engage in a meaningful conversation about a forward-thinking conservative vision for our country and our party. We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to secure continued American prosperity through good stewardship of our economy and our environment.
Michele Combs is president of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform. Beau Allen is a member of the Concord 51 board of directors. James Dozier is the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.