Energy & Environment

Texas GOP lawmaker calls for ‘carbon neutral’ but ‘energy dominant’ future

Greg Nash

Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) on Monday called for the U.S. to become carbon neutral as early as 2040, with major clean energy investments leading the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to develop a 21st century, what I call moonshot approach to help the United States be the world leader when it comes to energy resources, and to be carbon neutral by let’s say 2040 or 2050,” the former oil executive said at an event hosted by The Hill. “We’ll have to figure out what that consensus is, but this will help restore, renew, and rebuild America from its current COVID-19 challenges.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called for net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

Flores, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made the remarks at The Hill’s “Energy and National Security” event, on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.

The Texas Republican, who is retiring from Congress in January, called for “a combination of conservation, innovation, adaptation and market forces” to guide the U.S.’s future energy strategy, and urged investment in nuclear power.

“If we want to have a large segment of zero emissions baseload electric generation as a key energy source, we’re going to have to invest more in next-gen nuclear, and also small modular reactors,” he told The Hill’s Steve Clemons. “Those are the key to having this carbon neutral future.”

The lawmaker noted he is also a supporter of wind and solar energy, and is personally the largest generator of residential solar electricity in Brazos County, Texas.

Flores praised the Trump administration for its work toward energy independence, calling it a key to “greater national security and geopolitical stability.” The U.S. became a net exporter of natural gas and oil in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and is on pace to become a net exporter of energy by 2022.

Flores said he supports the administration’s plan to open up 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling, which is facing heavy pushback from environmental groups, including two lawsuits filed Monday.

“I would encourage [opponents] to go to the North Slope of Alaska, and look at the huge changes in land use from when the North Slope was first discovered and oil and gas production started to what it is today,” he said at the event sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute. “I think they’ll walk away with a whole new feeling of appreciation for how the oil and gas industry has become environmentally conscious.”

Jennifer Gordon, managing editor and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, said at a panel following Flores’s remarks that Republicans should take advantage of  “maybe the most positive policy environment that we’ve ever seen” for nuclear energy and low-carbon technology.

“This week, I want to hear more about specific technologies that are areas that have potential for innovation, and where the policy environment can really support us getting to low-carbon technologies,” she said.

Tags 2020 republican convention Alaska alaska national wildlife refuge ANWR Bill Flores carbon neutral Drilling Joe Biden Natural gas oil Texas
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