Kelcie Hartley, Daily Herald
“For good or bad, I’m the elephant in the climate room.”
Third Congressional District Rep. John Curtis believes political biases must be dropped in order to address worldwide climate concerns, and said so Wednesday during a presentation of his Conservative Climate Solutions plan.
“I’ve been known as the one Republican who is willing to talk about climate. Many of my friends on the left are generally unhappy with me because of my insistence that there’s a place for fossil fuels, and my friends on the right just hate that I use the C word at all and would prefer I not talk about it,” he said. “The case I’d like to make today is that no matter where you are, conservative or liberal, our interests are actually aligned.”
Achieving energy dominance, a strong economy, affordable and reliable power and reduced emissions is his hope for the United States, stressing that it is possible to achieve all four at the same time.
He suggested six steps as the Conservative Climate Solution in order for the U.S. to achieve all four goals. The first was getting on board with nuclear fuel productions.
Kelcie Hartley, Daily Herald
“It’s the one energy source that has zero emissions and works on a reliable baseload,” Curtis said. “Nuclear is considered to be one of the safest form of energy.”
While acknowledging the stigma around nuclear energy — due to high-profile incidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi, among others — Curtis asked the public to think about how many more lives have been lost to coal and other energy sources.
“In the past few weeks, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Russia have made commitments to nuclear,” he said. “I don’t care how you slice it, there’s no way to get an emissions free future without nuclear being a substantial part of it.”
His second step was for the U.S. to solve the storage problem for renewable energy. Saying that conservatives “don’t really have anything against renewables,” he believes solving storage problems will open up the potential for renewable energy.
Coming to terms with the place for fossil fuels in the future was the third step in Curtis’ Conservative Climate Solutions.
“Billions of dollars have been (spent on) carbon sequestration technology,” he said. “Fossil fuels can be burned without emissions escaping into the atmosphere.”
The only downside to carbon sequestration is that it’s expensive, Cutis argued, but so was solar power when it was first introduced.
The fourth step is for the U.S. to lead in innovation across the board for energy.
“We have a choice,” Curtis said. “We can do it here in the United States, or we can sit back, ignore the climate movement and watch the next industrial revolution take place outside of the United States. The world has sent a signal that it will buy clean energy technology. Will we sell it, or will we watch it be sold?”
The fifth step involved engaging with, and not fighting, farmers. Curtis said farmers have been villainized in the public — just like fossil fuels. “These are people more in tune with the earth, and their livelihood depends on it more than anyone else,” he said. “It is estimated that if we properly raise livestock on even half of the world’s grasslands, that one policy would reduce emission levels to pre-industrial levels. We need to engage farmers as our partners in this.”
The last step involved harvesting minerals needed for green technology here in the U.S. instead of looking overseas.
“Let’s do it here in the United States, and let’s do it right. These critical minerals are needed to fuel what we need to fuel to move forward,” he said.
Curtis’ approach would also cross borders, expanding from the U.S. and sharing the responsibility for cutting emissions with the rest of the world.
“Even if the U.S. found a way to have zero emissions, it would mean nothing,” he said.
In the end, Curtis called for more pragmatism on the issue — for bipartisan and nonpartisan solutions to achieving energy independence.
“This will only happen if we work together to do what’s right and once again the U.S. can be the power we all know it can be.”
Curtis’ presentation was part of the Sutherland Institute’s Congressional Series. The Sutherland Institute is a conservative think tank based in Salt Lake City.