Republicans counter Build Back Better’s climate crusade

The partisan divide on Capitol Hill continues over the future of America’s energy source.
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 9:54 AM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A Democrat-driven national climate crusade is still facing pushback. While they work to pass transformational legislation, Congressional Republicans continue to balk at the price tag and the provisions themselves, including the climate change language. Oil and gas leaders across the country are skeptical.

“It’s kind of a death by a thousand cuts,” said Kara Moriarty, president of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

Moriarty thinks the Build Back Better plan from President Joe Biden and most Congressional Democrats is taking a hatchet to her industry. The Alaska Oil and Gas Association president believes the multi trillion-dollar package would pump the brakes on oil and gas production in the natural resource-rich Last Frontier.

“Alaska is a leader. We have extremely high environmental standards. Nobody cares more about protecting the environment in Alaska more than we do,” said Moriarty.

The legislation outlines half a trillion dollars for combating climate change with things like incentivizing renewable energies, giving tax cuts for those cutting carbon emissions, and cracking down on oil and gas leasing.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) is proposing a counter measure. He wants to expand current energy production in the U.S. while also investing in the renewable sector. Sullivan argues if the U.S. cannot supply fossil fuel energies, consumers will get the products from countries with lower environmental standards.

“Our plan is a competing vision saying you can protect the environment, you can even reduce global emissions, by producing more American energy,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan faces a nearly impossible mountain to climb in getting his plan through Congress with Democrats controlling both chambers. Environmentalists also say now is the time for drastic measures, and oil and gas producers need to take a back seat.

“Whenever you’re disrupting a powerful entity, they’re going to be upset. And that’s the way it is,” said Toby Short from the Environmental Defense Fund.

Short says Build Back Better is already a compromise when it comes to effectively fighting climate change. He thinks plans like Sullivan’s would delay the changes necessary for the health of our planet.

“There’s always going to be more. This isn’t a silver bullet. Our job on climate change is not over when this bill passes,” said Short.

The Senate continues to negotiate the final language of the bill. Democrats are still working to convince their coal state colleague Joe Manchin from West Virginia to get on board.

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