Statesman Journal: Time is running out in fight against climate change
Guest Column by Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05):
Its devastating effects can still be seen in the damage wrought by last summer’s drought-fueled wildfires and last winter’s once-in-a-lifetime ice storm in the Willamette Valley.
Republicans and Democrats alike agree that climate change is real. We must therefore do our part to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. Time is running out.
On the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to craft a meaningful and effective climate bill. We need to minimize the damage that our changing climate is having every summer in our forests.
That is why I have worked on bipartisan bills that encourage better forest management by our federal agencies and power companies. And I’m proud to report that those policies will be coming online this summer.
But we need to get at the root cause of these disasters, too. That is why I have joined with a Republican colleague from West Virginia, Congressman David McKinley, on a plan to reduce our power plant emissions to near zero by 2050, regardless of their energy source. This is a commonsense way to bring our country together to reduce carbon emissions.
We are blessed in the Pacific Northwest with abundant clean hydropower and promising wave energy resources. We have also maintained a steadfast commitment to wind, solar, geothermal and biomass alternatives for clean renewable energy. That is not the case in many parts of the country, where livelihoods depend on fossil fuel energy sources.
Our bill thus provides a glide path to get all of us rowing in the same direction by investing heavily in innovation and technology. This will help develop the large capacity batteries and carbon capture and sequestration technologies necessary to achieve the carbon emission reductions we need to combat the climate change we are now seeing.
Our legislation mandates a net 95% clean energy standard to take effect within the next 10 years, with penalties for plants that fail to make sufficient progress toward that goal. It ends partisan regulation that seesaws back-and-forth depending on which party wins the White House. And it will put America at the forefront of developing these technologies, thereby enabling us to sell them to the rest of the world, so we can actually make this the global effort it needs to be.
Our plan is the only bipartisan bill to combat climate change, making it the only legislation with a realistic chance of satisfying the diversity of opinion in this country and in Congress.