Affordable energy is essential for economic growth and the well-being of American families. To help make energy more affordable—and create jobs in the process—Congress should enact a comprehensive, all-of-the-above national energy policy.
To ease the pain at the pump and at the electric meter—and to free our nation from dependence on foreign oil—we must work toward energy independence. We must develop new supplies of American energy, including oil, natural gas, and coal. That means exploring for oil in Alaska, on the Outer Continental Shelf and in shale formations in the West. We should encourage the development of technologies that allow us to use our vast supply of coal in a more environmentally-responsible manner. We should continue to develop our massive natural gas reserves.
We must also develop and deploy alternative energy sources and technologies including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy. Reliable, emission-free nuclear power must also be part of the equation, and we should work to dispose of waste through a central disposal site or by reprocessing.
There’s no question the Earth’s temperature is warming – after all, during the last Ice Age which ended 10,000 years ago, 32 percent of Earth’s land area was covered with glaciers, and that number is just 10 percent today. Rather than implementing a strict regulatory regime that drives up the cost of energy and destroys good-paying jobs – as some have proposed – I believe there are a number of commonsense changes we should pursue instead that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save taxpayers money and result in job-creating efficiencies. I support pursuing an all-of-the-above energy policy including sources like wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear and hydro. Further, as my record as Mayor of Johnson City shows, I am a strong advocate for protecting our environment and I support conservation.
For instance, while I was served on the City Commission in Johnson City, and then as Mayor, we worked to cap the gas coming out of our landfill – which is made up of methane, a significant greenhouse gas – and used it heat and cool the Mountain Home VA Medical Center, instead of burning the methane off into the atmosphere. We audited all of our public buildings for energy efficiency and established a ‘Green Team’ that could work with entities to find ways to help them be more environmentally friendly. Johnson City was also the first municipality in Tennessee to offer curbside recycling, and we have replaced stoplight and streetlight bulbs with energy efficient bulbs that save energy and save taxpayer money.
Green New Deal
The “Green New Deal” is not about climate change. It is a manifesto against capitalism and in favor of socialism.
The “Green New Deal” resolution calls for our country to transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy within 10 years. Achieving “net-zero” emissions in 10 years would require the U.S. to stop producing oil, natural gas and coal – the energy sources that fuel 80 percent of our economy. The resolution also calls for updating or replacing ALL U.S. buildings, and advocates “guaranteeing a job…for all people of the United States.”
The resolution’s sponsor doesn’t stop there, however. In an accompanying Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) document that outlines some of the policies contained in the “Green New Deal,” the sponsors indicate the goals include: providing “economic security for all who are…unwilling to work”; creating “millions of family supporting-wage, union jobs”; “guaranteeing…higher education”; and ensuring “a just transition for all communities and workers…that have historically relied on fossil fuel industries.” They also plan on paying for this legislation through credit extended by the Federal Reserve or by new public banks, or a carbon tax.
The extreme “Green New Deal” is not the answer.
Paris Climate Agreement
The Paris Agreement was a seriously flawed plan that puts the United States at a competitive disadvantage with other countries, like China, that will not abide by the agreements, and also will further destroy good-paying traditional energy sector jobs in our region. It seems to me this is why the Obama Administration never submitted the agreement for ratification to the Senate.
I believe President Trump made the right decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. For this reason, on May 2, 2019, I voted against H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 231 to 190, because it would prohibit federal funds from being used to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. I believe President Trump made the correct decision to put the best interests of the American people first by withdrawing from this flawed agreement, and I voted to uphold his decision.