The Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is receiving a lot of attention from both parties. The prospect of such significant legislation arouses climate activists and angered anti-large government groups. Of course, the deal outlined in House Resolution 109, in which the Green New Deal was presented, is unrealistic and does not properly take into account the negative consequences it will bring. The goal of “covering 100 percent of the electricity demand”, for example with emission-free energy sources, would call into question the requirements for reliability, something Texans are more concerned with after the winter storm in Uri than ever. Look no further than Germany, which is considered a modern model network and, due to its all-weather reliability and lower costs, still relies on carbon-based sources for a third of its generation capacity.
However, the climate is changing because of the greenhouse gases we emit. Most of the major oil and gas companies agree. Many also agree that we should take responsible action to mitigate our climate impacts without destroying the jobs and industries that support our families and to sacrifice reliability by being too aggressive on solar and wind before low-cost battery technology catches up. Conservatives should address this issue with the trademarked clear thinking and conservation mindset that have served our country so well since it was popularized by Republican President Teddy Roosevelt.
Such an approach is a win-win for Texas oil and gas and climate activists. There are more than 2 million unconnected, abandoned oil and gas wells in the US that emit 100 times more methane than one clogged well. Texas is currently granting drilling permit funding for federally funded plugging efforts, but the number of abandoned wells is increasing. US dollars earmarked for this purpose would directly reduce fugitive methane emissions from abandoned wells, put the hands of the oil field on workover rigs to aid the effort, and add real estate values by clearing land of old equipment.
Conservatism means getting the best for every taxpayer's money. Federal dollars for nationwide measures to reduce emissions, create jobs and increase property values are being used far better than modernizing a serviceable building with a more efficient one, as the New York Congress Women’s GND suggests
Another sensible solution for reliable power generation and simultaneous reduction of emissions is simple: End the more than 30-year drought and build nuclear power plants again. Republicans should advocate nuclear power and try to modernize the outdated regulatory process to accommodate new technologies. For example, there are half a dozen US companies that are introducing small nuclear reactors that are much cheaper and faster to build than a traditional nuclear power plant, do not emit greenhouse gases, and serve a more versatile purpose with rain or shine to consumers.
Conservatism means reducing unnecessary regulation and fueling U.S. technological advancement while keeping public safety a top priority. The added impact of affirming our nuclear capabilities on the world stage makes these efforts even more compelling. A capable leadership committed to increasing safe nuclear power plants could lead a coalition over the gang and have a real impact on these issues that matter most to most Americans.
Conservatives across the country are recognizing that electricity from wind, solar, water, geothermal and battery technology are important components of our future energy mix and that carbon sources must play an important role for years to come. It is prudent conservative leadership to delve into the changing energy landscape while resisting efforts to swing the pendulum towards persistent central planning that has industries with a myopic focus on emissions at the cost of living and a myopic focus on Emissions at the expense of eliminated network reliability.
Clogging abandoned wells and rebuilding America's nuclear capacity are just two of many areas in which Republicans can offer conservative solutions to the important problems we face. We can claim our own conservative Green New Deal. It only requires a commitment to lay down and wield our partisan swords. Our country deserves leaders who will do this.
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a member of the conservative Principles First organization, Pitcock has worked in the oil and gas industry and is a small business owner in Houston.