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Reducing Carbon Emissions the Right Way

December 3, 2019

While Nebraskans have faced many challenges this year, particularly in our agriculture industry, the United States economy remains strong overall. Unemployment is at a 50-year low, wages are rising, and the GDP has been even higher than projected. The longtime strength of our economy is dependent on many factors, including a strong belief in the rule of law and property rights, a commitment to hard work and ingenuity, and consistent access to numerous sources of energy needed to grow, manufacture, and transport products across our state, nation, and the world. Affordable energy directly impacts the everyday lives of Americans; driving our cars, heating our homes, watching television, and cooking our food, among countless other examples.

Maintaining a healthy environment and a strong energy industry do not have to be mutually exclusive. The United States leads the world in efficient energy and energy science research. From 2005-2017, the United States reduced more carbon emissions than the next 12 countries combined.

With an expanding market for efficient and environmentally-friendly energy, we have seen more focus on innovation and new technology for energy in the private sector. However, in the 116th Congress, we have also seen numerous efforts to implement one-size-fits-all mandates which could hamstring existing efforts. As we have seen with every other government interference in the marketplace, innovation would suffer significantly.

In June, the House Budget Committee held a hearing on the “Green New Deal” – an overreaching climate plan with an estimated $93 trillion price tag. One component of the “Green New Deal” calls for reducing carbon emissions with a massive overhaul of agricultural production. I cringe when I hear politicians in Washington tell farmers, whose land is their livelihood, to be better stewards of the environment. Families who have farmed the land for generations understand the importance of a healthy environment to feeding their neighbors and countrymen.

In Nebraska the idea of restrictively regulating agriculture and energy is almost a foreign concept, but in other parts of the country it is a reality. Just last year, Massachusetts was forced to import natural gas from Russia due to its own restrictive policies on domestic energy. If we want to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment, importing foreign energy where we have no control over the production process is not the solution.

Constraining American energy only allows other countries to pick up where we left off. Currently, China emits more carbon dioxide than the United States and the European Union combined. However, the Paris Agreement of 2015 told the United States they must reduce carbon emissions significantly, while China would be allowed to increase their carbon emissions by up to 50 percent. The United States, being the world leader in reducing carbon emissions, should be the example and not the scapegoat.

American ideas can change the world for the better. The United States is the world leader in so many areas because of the value we put on these big ideas. If we strive for clean air, safe drinking water, and reduced carbon emissions, we should not be penalizing the energy sources we have, but instead incentivizing efficiency and innovation. We have a common goal of reducing carbon emissions in our country, but let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot trying to get there.