The Right Way on Climate for Arizona

Home to the seventh wonder of the world, rolling expanses of forest-covered slopes, the roaring Colorado River, and the beautiful Sonoran Desert, Arizona is truly a special place. Protecting our natural heritage while building up our economy and creating tens of thousands of new jobs should be an imperative for all Arizona leaders.

The nation’s largest nuclear plant, Palo Verde Generating Station, produces more than 32 million megawatt-hours of carbon-free energy every year right here in the Grand Canyon state. Generating clean, abundant power is a model for the nation and commands energy production throughout the Southwest. In fact, this innovative site has opened up the potential for using surplus electricity to generate clean hydrogen gas, which could be used for powering fuel cell cars and the trucks of tomorrow. 

In his experience leading the Arizona State University College Republicans, Joe Pitts has seen firsthand that acting on environmental issues is not partisan. There is support for clean energy and emission-reducing technologies on both sides of the aisle. Arizonans are uniquely positioned to be national leaders in clean energy and conservation efforts.

For example, Arizona leaders reached across the aisle to pass the Drought Contingency Act of 2019, which prepares us for future water shortages and clears the way toward further water conservation. Republican Governor Doug Ducey, President Donald Trump, and Arizona’s Congressional delegation spearheaded the effort, along with the hard work of stakeholders across Arizona. Surprising to many, despite our state’s population explosion over the last few decades, our water use has in fact decreased over the same time. For years, Arizonans have come together on important issues like water management, and the trend that we’ve long seen in our state has been reflected on the national level, breaking through partisan gridlock.

My Republican colleagues in Congress–including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy–have expressed support of the efforts in the American Climate Contract, a realistic climate plan that pledges to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 through innovation, energy investment, and natural solutions.

We Republicans, both in Congress and on the grassroots level, are acting on conservation, environmental protection, and the reduction of CO2 emissions. Not by burdening business, but by encouraging enterprise. Not through heavy-handed federal mandates, but through free market innovation. Not by embracing socialism, but by stimulating private sector investment and expanding economic freedom.

The United States leads the world in innovation. As tens of thousands of American companies innovate our path to the future, America steadily decreases its carbon output. Here in Arizona, we have seen these innovations in the form of new technology start-ups such as Nikola Motor, which produces electric trucks and cars and the expansion of renewable energy use.

Through the adoption of an all-of-the-above approach, including harnessing the power of natural gas–which is 50% cleaner than coal–the maintenance of nuclear energy, and carbon sequestration, we can achieve great success in reducing emissions and leading a cleaner world.

Utility companies across our state have announced record investments in new technologies like solar battery storage, which shows the continued growth of clean energy in our state. These investments are possible because private sector innovation continues to crash the cost of new technologies to make them more efficient and cost effective, not because of mandates from Washington.

Furthermore, we must foster a regulatory environment which is conducive to free enterprise and green industry. This includes smart financial incentives such as legislation expanding carbon sequestration tax credits, known as 45Q, that I have championed in the House. This initiative would enhance the value of the credit for critical direct air capture projects, provide stability for investment and expand its availability to more innovators, incentivizing private sector projects to remove more carbon from the atmosphere.

In January, I joined a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to introduce the Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act which creates an economically responsible and technology neutral  credit that will help emerging technologies enter the marketplace, increasing our dominance and competitiveness in the energy sector. And all the way back in early 2019, I introduced the bipartisan Crowd Sourcing of Environmental Data Act, which would put the tracking of air quality into our community members’ hands for monitoring the air we breathe. This would create a faster, healthier, and fairer process to reduce bureaucratic red tape and promote safer air quality.

For young activists like Joe, climate is a pressing issue, and leaders must step up and pursue realistic, actionable policy to reduce our emissions. The solution to our environmental challenges is not bigger government nor more federal control over our everyday lives. It involves stimulating American ingenuity, creating tens of thousands of new jobs, and investing in 21st century energy infrastructure. As the far left fantasizes about socialist pipe dreams, Republicans are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. Let’s work together to reduce emissions, create new, high-skilled jobs, and lead the world in a new century of renewable American energy dominance.

Congressman David Schweikert represents Arizona’s 6th District, Joseph Pitts is the Arizona Director for the American Conservation Coalition and a student at Arizona State University’s Barrett the Honors College.

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