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Energy Independence

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. And 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.

Obtaining energy independence is a key component to economic recovery. Click here to learn basic ways you can conserve energy and reduce your energy bills at home.

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 Donald Trump made the correct decision to put the best interests of the American people first by withdrawing from this flawed agreement.

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.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan

I am adamantly opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which proposes existing coal-powered plants reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. This approach to curbing emissions is so unpopular with Congress and the American people that the president couldn’t get a Democrat-controlled House and Senate to pass a similar plan back in 2009 – the so-called “Cap and Tax Plan,” which I voted against.

On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court granted a stay on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, effectively halting its implementation. This is clear evidence that the EPA has gone outside of its regulatory authority and the scope of the Clean Air Act. While I believe that we should be good stewards of the environment, this plan will do more harm than good. President Obama’s proposal won't just affect the coal industry—consumers also lose. Some studies predict that there will be double-digit electricity rate hikes in 43 states, with 14 states seeing increases of more than 20 percent. At a time when many are still struggling to make ends meet, it's reckless to push policies that will burden families with higher electric bills. In Tennessee, 34 percent of families live below the poverty line. These families spend roughly 22 percent of their income on energy. They are the ones who will be left behind by this plan.

After President Trump signed his Executive Order on March 28, 2017 calling on the EPA to fully re-evaluate the Clean Power Plan, I was glad to see EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt start the formal process to repeal this flawed regulatory scheme on October 10, 2017. As a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus and the House Energy Action Team, I will continue to closely monitor these issues and look forward to working with the administration to find a healthy balance between environmental responsibility and energy independence. 

Renewable Fuel Standard

At a time when the United States is producing more oil and natural gas than any previous point in its history, maintaining the misguided and overly restrictive renewable fuel standard that requires certain levels of biofuels to be mixed with petroleum fuel is expensive and causes more problems than it is claimed to solve. For this reason, I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 1314, legislation that would repeal the RFS in its entirety and provide relief for American consumers from this harmful, misguided policy.

Food costs have increased since farmers are growing corn for ethanol rather than for consumption and it has also increased pollution because biofuel production is quite carbon-intensive. Given the restrictive nature of the renewable fuel standard, the increased costs of food and the lack of a proven environmental benefit, we need to roll back this failed experiment and focus more on addressing consumption habits and continue tapping into the abundant resources we already have available.

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