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Congressman Adrian Smith

Representing the 3rd District of Nebraska

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Leading the Way

May 3, 2019
Column
While it may not be widely reported, the U.S. is leading the way in environmentally-friendly technology and innovation.  Market demand for more efficient energy has transformed the way the U.S. produces and uses its natural resources.  I have long supported an “all of the above” approach to increase American energy production and efficiency, which in turn boosts our economic activity and keeps rates affordable for American families and businesses.  
 
Natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, and other forms of power are all part of our country’s diverse energy portfolio.  Policies like tax incentives for renewable energy have helped kick-start cleaner power generation to the point where America’s wind and solar industries have become sufficiently competitive to no longer need direct tax incentives.  Moreover, savvy businesses are doing more than ever to promote better technology and green alternatives to meet consumer demands.
 
The United States reduced overall emissions by more than 18 percent from 2000 to 2014.  According to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. emission reductions are “the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.”  The U.S. is a global leader in helping to keep our planet clean, without the heavy-hand of government forcing extreme and unworkable policies. 
 
Unfortunately, this week in the House of Representatives, the Democrat majority put forward legislation which would stifle the very progress the U.S. has made over the last several decades.  Their proposal would force President Trump to follow the Obama administration’s 2016 commitments to the Paris Agreement, a United Nations treaty on climate change.  
 
The Paris Agreement is aimed at reducing global carbon emissions by requiring each participating sovereign nation to put forward their own “nationally determined contributions.”  The Obama administration made this commitment without regard for the impact of new costly regulations and without submitting it to Congress despite the Constitution requiring Senate approval for treaties.  
 
Forcing the U.S. to follow the Paris Agreement would be difficult and costly for American consumers with no regard for the progress we have already made.  Meanwhile, other countries have done little to nothing to encourage cleaner energy.  China, for example, is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.  China, as part of the Paris Agreement, is not required and does not plan to even start reducing emissions until 2030.  The pledge made by the Obama administration would commit the U.S. to far stricter levels and much sooner.  
 
While we must enact policies with the next generation in mind, the U.S. can continue to lead with clean, abundant, and diverse energy resources without hitting American consumers and ratepayers.  Promoting incentives and capitalizing on innovation are a proven win-win for our economy and environment.  
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