Hill Republicans should look to Cabinet, states for proven clean energy solutions

November’s elections offered a clear mandate from voters that they want big changes in how government operates that leads to a better quality of life for them and their families – whether that is through a stronger economy, a safer homeland, or better paying jobs – and they want it under Republican leadership.

The party of Lincoln now has the opportunity of a lifetime to bring their ideas that create jobs and inspire the ingenuity of a nation. It’s an extraordinary time to think outside of the box – or rather to look beyond the Beltway – for innovative ideas that fellow Republicans have embraced, such as the promise of clean energy solutions, that have had real results for everyday Americans.

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Notably, the president’s Cabinet includes two former governors with histories of strong support of clean energy. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, our new Secretary of Energy, consistently supported market-based, renewable energy technology that increased abundant, affordable, and clean energy production for millions of families across his home state. As governor of South Carolina, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was an outspoken advocate of solar energy development, expansion and regulatory reform that stimulated the growth of an advanced energy economy, bring new high-paying jobs to the Palmetto State.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner expanded clean energy production and saved thousands of local jobs by improving the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. His reforms are expected to lead to billions of dollars in private investment in clean renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Nevada has also witnessed an increased investment in renewable energy, thanks in large part to Gov. Brian Sandoval and his decisive action to form the “Governor’s Accord for a New Energy Future,” an initiative to revitalize our country’s electrical grid with a bipartisan group of 17 governors. Sandoval also signed an executive order that reactivated a task force to help promote and distribute renewable energy resources, advocate for the development and integration of clean energy sources into Nevada’s energy sector, and build modern and cost-effective infrastructure.

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts signed a bipartisan solar energy bill to create a long-term plan for sustainable solar development, expand the Commonwealth’s solar industry, and make progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Baker has also supported legislation that requires utilities to solicit long-term contracts from offshore wind farm developers to bring at least 1,600 megawatts of wind energy to Massachusetts in the next 10 years into law.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan put forward a budget that included key provisions to strengthen the state’s economy and upheld his commitment to voters that he would fight to preserve environmental quality and address climate change. For the second consecutive year, Hogan fully funded efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and also established a grant program aimed at aiding coastal communities who are forced to endure the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change and extreme weather.

Newly elected Republican governors have also moved quickly to proactively work with their state legislatures to advance clean energy reforms. In Vermont, Republican Gov. Phil Scott has pledged to abide by his Democratic predecessor's long-term goal of getting 90 percent of the energy needed in the state from renewable sources by the year 2050. And in New Hampshire, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu reserved time in his inaugural address to focus on bringing down the cost of local-sourced, renewable energy, calling for “sensible, long-term planning” on policy. He also said the Granite State has an opportunity to be a “shining example” of renewable energy.

Republicans believe in strengthening states’ rights because it’s the states that so often get it right when comes to serving as laboratories for effective policy. Clean energy is part of the advanced economy that voters want to contribute to a better quality of life. The Trump administration and leaders in Congress would be wise to apply those lessons learned in states across the country to commonsense policymaking that benefits all Americans.

Heather Reams is the managing director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a non-profit organization advocating for comprehensive and responsible solutions to our nation’s energy issues.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.