This Thursday, the Center on Global Energy Policy hosted a panel to demystify the Republican Party’s energy and environmental policy. Panelists Jeffrey A. Rosen, Kellie Donnelly, and James L. Connaughton summarized past GOP policy, provided insight to the party’s current platforms, and gave recommendations for the future.

In a brief webinar this Thursday, the Center on Global Energy Policy hosted three former Republican officials with expertise on the party’s energy and environmental policies. Moderated by Senior Research Scholar David R. Hill, the panel attempted to explicate these policies, running down the past, present, and future of the GOP’s relation to energy and the environment.

The panel began with Kellie Donnelly, former Chief Counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who described the GOP’s energy and environmental priorities during the last few years until now. She began by mentioning that despite there being a divided Congress and Senate, many environmental policies have been met with bipartisan approval.

As an example, Donnelly mentioned the Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which the Senate ratified just this month with bipartisan support. The amendment motivates countries to reduce their use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to global climate change.

Donnelly ended her section by noting that the Republican caucus is not anti-renewable energy, and that many constituents want to see an increase in renewables and the economic development that they would bring to the country. She also briefly mentioned the upcoming renewal of the Farm Bill, which many anticipate to contain more environmental initiatives than past iterations.

Following Donnelly was Jeffrey A. Rosen, former US Deputy Secretary of Transportation under Donald Trump. Rosen’s section of the panel focused less on concrete environmental and energy policies and more on abstract ideas regarding the future of Republican climate action.

He stressed the fact that the United States already has an ample supply of energy sources, including fracking, wind farms, and solar fields, but that we need to figure out how to deliver their energy over long distances. He also stated the Republican commitment to American energy independence, as well as lower gas and electricity prices.

Rosen’s main emphasis was on a balance he believes must be found moving forward within American energy and environmental policy: the importance of energy to modern American lives and greenhouse gas reduction to counteract climate change.

Rosen used a dramatic hypothetical to illustrate the importance of this balance. He explained that although it would be possible to eliminate all transportation emissions by outright banning travel, this, of course, is not realistic. Balance is important, he emphasized, so that we do not move into “a pre-industrial world.”

Rosen concluded his section by outlining three priorities from the Republican perspective on energy policy. The first is to promote free-trade, interstate energy markets by removing unreasonable state and local obstacles to energy infrastructure. The second is the importance of using “market mechanisms” to achieve balance between energy use and damage to the environment. The third (and vaguest) priority is the importance of innovation moving forward in the sphere of energy policy.

The last panelist was James L. Connaughton, former Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under George W. Bush. Connaughton began his section by highlighting that there is room for common ground to be found between Republicans and Democrats regarding energy and environmental policy; like Donnelly, he also emphasized that there is more bipartisan voting on environmental policy than many assume.

“Common ground comes from a series of common objectives,” Connaughton stated. He went on to describe that officials cannot just focus on climate change, public health, energy security, or any other issue in vacuum; in order to achieve approval and success, policies must be combined into holistic goals.

Connaughton also suggested policies that he believes should be part of the Republican agenda. These included a system of automatic permitting for new clean energy sources, implementing pollution tariffs on China, Russia, and other countries, and distilling the many federal environmental and energy policies into one all-encompassing policy.

Image via Bwog Archives