Like it or not, America is locked in a new Cold War. Our foe this time around is Beijing.
A new report by the Heritage Foundation, Winning the Cold War: A Plan for Countering China, describes what it will take to prevail in this conflict. One of the first things to do: Stop shooting ourselves in the foot.
A good place to start is with environmental policies. Our current policies make China stronger and America weaker. America needs to abandon those that promote dependence on China and embrace policies that will make us energy independent once more.
This week, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced a bill that would get us back on track. H.R. 1, The Lower Energy Costs Act, emphasizes domestic energy production, lower energy costs, and reduction in emissions.
Scalise explained the rationale for the bill this way: “[W]e don’t have to be reliant on countries like China. …We shouldn’t be getting our energy from any other country. We make it cleaner, at a lower cost than anywhere else in the world, and it produces great jobs in America. We should be doing more of it.”
America has vast reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas—enough to assure energy independence, but also enough to counter Moscow’s attempt to hold European nations hostage through their dependence on Russian exports of oil and natural gas.
Yet these natural resources go largely untapped due to misguided environmental policies. States and companies are pressured to pursue decarbonization as part of a collection of “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) policies. Promoted by progressive interest groups and Democratic governors and state lawmakers, these policies encourage divestment of fossil fuels and the use of renewables such as wind turbines and solar panels.
This is a boon to Beijing. The Heritage report notes that China has a dominant market share in the production of many green energy resources, including 90% of the world’s battery storage market, 66% of global solar panel production, and 50% of wind turbine production. Countless other renewable energy components and technologies depend to a large extent on Chinese supply chains.
Meanwhile, states and corporations are encouraging the replacement of the internal combustion engine, which uses gasoline or diesel fuel produced in American refineries, with battery-powered electric vehicles, whose batteries are made in China. All major automakers except Toyota Motors have promised to sell only battery-powered electric vehicles after 2035.
These environmental policies make the American economy more reliant on China, America’s adversary and a country with a poor record both on the environment and on human rights.
Beijing is engaged in genocide against the minority Uyghur people of Xinjiang and has imposed draconian restrictions on political freedoms in Hong Kong. The CCP has cracked down on religious liberties for Christians and Buddhist worshippers of the Dalai Lama throughout Tibet. Empowering the Chinese government is fundamentally at odds with “good corporate governance.”
The Heritage report recommends several measures to reverse America’s promotion of Chinese technology.
First, Congress and the Executive branch should identify and discourage environmental policies that benefit China or make America dependent on Chinese energy sources and supply chains.
Second, Congress should pass laws that bar state and federal agencies from imposing regulatory requirements that make critical infrastructure or supply chains more dependent on China.
Third, the federal government should enhance scrutiny of ESG ratings and prevent regulators from taking actions that promote ESG scores.
Fourth, the government should educate foreign governments, the private sector, and civil society about the CCP’s manipulation of ESG issues.
Fifth, the government should block imposition of net zero policies at the state level.
Much could be done by individual states. State legislators should oppose environmental policies that prevent asset managers from maximizing returns for beneficiaries. State pension funds should be invested with a goal of the highest returns to fiduciaries.
Rather than kowtowing to China, companies should reject environmental policies that raise the costs of doing business and favor China.
The rush to a green energy future, driven more by politics and virtue-signaling than economics and emissions reductions, will only enrich China at America’s expense and place vital energy supply chains at the mercy of Beijing. H.R. 1 is the first step in implementing Heritage’s recommendations.
This piece originally appeared in the Daily Caller