Climate Money Is Pouring Into Washington—Watch Out for the RINOs

COMMENTARY Energy Economics

Climate Money Is Pouring Into Washington—Watch Out for the RINOs

Dec 5, 2022 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Derrick Morgan

Executive Vice President

Derrick Morgan is the executive vice president of The Heritage Foundation.
The right should continue to advocate for policies that ensure affordable and reliable energy. Jevtic / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Most Americans are never going to favor explicit government actions that make energy more expensive and less reliable.

Most of the problem we face with respect to high energy prices is the result of underinvestment in oil and natural gas over the last decade.

Republicans should make it clear that markets—and not political operatives—produce the most efficient solutions...that result in the least pollution.

You know things are grim among the Republicans when a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) chairman, Neil Chatterjee, and former Congressman Carlos Curbelo team up to advocate for more expensive energy.

Yet both of them did just that in a recent article where they tried to convince donors on the left to give to front groups—nominally Republican—working diligently destroy affordable and reliable American energy.

Writing in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, both applauded passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which takes $400 billion from taxpayers and gives it to wealthy investors in alternative energy. As a reminder, not a single Republican member of Congress voted for that legislation.

Of course, what the authors probably want is cash for their own organizations. “Groups … where Neil is a senior policy adviser, and … where Carlos serves on the board of advisers, also work regularly to inform members of Congress and mobilize, respectively, business leaders and Gen Z conservatives in decarbonization efforts,” they write.

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Good for them; everyone should try to make some cash.

However, the notion that elected Republicans would favor making energy more expensive and less reliable if there were just a few more bucks floating around on the right is nonsense, and Mr. Chatterjee and Mr. Curbelo both know that.

Most Americans are never going to favor explicit government actions that make energy more expensive and less reliable. That is why the left has focused on policies, like tax credits, that hide and socialize the costs of alternative energy.

When Americans are polled about how much they want to spend each year to address climate change, the answer has been remarkably consistent over decades: about 40% say zero, and the median answer is around $50.

In contrast to the left, the right should continue to advocate for policies that ensure affordable and reliable energy.

More specifically, Republicans should remind voters that the modern world is powered by coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power. In 1981, those resources provided about 80% of all primary energy on this planet. In 2021, after trillions of dollars have been spent on wind and solar energy, traditional fuels—oil, coal, and natural gas—still provided about 80% of the world’s primary energy.

The new House majority should alert people to the dangers associated with chronic underinvestment in oil and natural gas. Most of the problem we face with respect to high energy prices is the result of underinvestment in oil and natural gas over the last decade. The principal cause of that underinvestment is the relentless propaganda from the left about the possibility of net zero anytime soon.

National net zero goals have never been voted on; they are not national commitments. Congress should vote on net zero goals. If achieving those goals are going to be uniformly positive, surely everyone will want to get on record in favor of them.

The reality is, of course, likely to be quite different. The McKinsey and Company consulting firm has estimated that it will cost almost $300 trillion in the next 80 years to achieve global net zero. Moreover, if net zero will create economic opportunities, it should be paid for by willing investors rather than captive taxpayers and ratepayers.

Republicans also need to clarify the role of environment, social and governance (ESG) and the weaponization of federal financial regulators in our current difficulties. They should make sure that voters are aware that many who impose ESG considerations on investments are themselves in bed with genocidal, slaving, communist China.

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The new majority needs to address the California waiver, which would effectively transfer control over decisions about what cars get made and purchased from consumers to bureaucrats in Sacramento.

Finally, Republicans should make it clear that markets—and not political operatives—produce the most efficient solutions, which means the solutions that result in the least pollution. It is no accident that hydraulic fracturing and precision drilling—which has done more to reduce emissions in the last 15 years than any government program—originated in and were accomplished by the private sector.

The very last thing the Republicans should do is accept their adversaries’ framing of the issues. The new majority is there to do something about inflation, lawlessness, border security and to generally check the errant and erratic Biden administration. They are also there to do something about energy prices.

No one gave the Republicans the majority in the House so they could waste more taxpayer cash on the left’s daydreams or, worse, so they could become stewards of the left’s donor class.

This piece originally appeared in the Daily Caller