Let’s get past Keystone and get on with energy reform

Once again, the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline is sucking up all the air in the room when it comes to energy policy. But the heated debate is something of a distraction from more substantive energy issues. Whether the pipeline gets built or not, the oil it’s supposed to transport will get used somewhere in the world if market conditions warrant.

I hope the issue is finally resolved soon, so that Congress can turn its attention to the real solution to our energy problems: Developing a bipartisan, comprehensive, “all of the above” energy strategy. That’s what the American people want. And it’s what we at Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YCER) are counting on the newly Republican-controlled Congress to deliver.

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Republicans have the chance to build our nation’s energy future on a new footing that puts America’s interests first. The U.S. needs an energy policy that grows the economy, strengthens our national security and our standing in the world, and minimizes unhealthy pollution. Republicans are in the driver’s seat, and must not waste this opportunity.

As conservatives, we at YCER see energy efficiency as the starting point and bedrock of sensible energy policy. Again this session, Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Poll: Burr narrowly leads Democrat in NC Senate race MORE (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenGOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Overnight Defense: Senate rejects new FBI surveillance powers | Brexit vote looms | Push for new military aid deal with Israel Senators push vote to condemn Russia's 'reckless actions' MORE (D-N.H.) are joining forces on energy efficiency legislation that has broad support, including from young conservatives across the country. A slimmed-down version of their bill has been introduced as an amendment to the Keystone measure the Senate is considering, and the senators also plan on reintroducing a more comprehensive energy efficiency bill later this year.  

Efficiency, the continuing development of domestic fossil fuels, and a ramp-up of renewable energy should all be part of a comprehensive energy bill, which is being discussed for later this year. Some see that third element – clean energy – as a partisan issue, but it’s not: it’s an American issue.

Homegrown energy that can never run out creates American jobs, and gives us a piece of a growing international market. It boosts energy independence, and makes us less reliant on foreign sources of energy whose interests are not always aligned with our own. It also means cleaner air and water, and a healthier future for our families.

Renewable energy is a political winner, as well. Poll after poll shows broad-based support for developing alternative sources of energy.  And for younger people—a demographic Republicans need to court – support is especially strong.

So let’s get the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline over with, and move onto a comprehensive energy bill that reinvigorates America’s energy policy. It’s what voters want. It’s what our country needs. And if Republicans are the ones who finally deliver real energy reform, it will be good for our party, as well.

Combs is the president of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform and a former “Young Republican of the Year.”

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