Rep. Fred Upton: On Earth Day, we can protect our planet and our economy | Opinion

Fred Upton

Climate change is real. Period. It is our responsibility as members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — to do everything we can to support solutions that address climate change, protect our planet, and support a clean energy transition. Earth Day 2021 reminds us these goals should be a priority, today and every day of the year.

But make no mistake. We do not need to sacrifice our economy for our environment. It is possible to protect our planet and support our post-pandemic economic recovery, jobs and an affordable, reliable energy supply for families and businesses.

Moving forward, the issue of climate change and energy should remain at the forefront of our national discourse. Growing up on Lake Michigan, these issues are deeply personal to me, Upton writes.

We’ve made progress. Over the past 50 years, emissions dropped by 77% in the United States, while the American economy grew 285%. That’s good news, especially when you factor in population growth and more Americans driving and traveling.

Legislatively, we have been working in overdrive to support efforts to protect our environment, secure our energy, and tackle climate change.

At the end of last year, we passed the Energy Act of 2020, with big increases in spending authority for energy efficiency, technology innovation, and grid modernization. This bipartisan legislation was the most significant energy legislation in more than ten years. It serves now as a bipartisan roadmap to pursue innovative, clean energy policies.

Last month, the Energy and Commerce Republicans unveiled a clean energy plan that further tackles climate change and promotes an economic recovery — the Securing Cleaner American Energy Agenda. This plan prioritizes reducing carbon emissions and delivering affordable, reliable, and secure energy.

Legislation that I introduced — the Securing America’s Critical Minerals Supply Act — highlights the importance of securing an adequate and reliable domestic supply of critical energy resources, including critical minerals. From our energy grid to our batteries, technologies made from critical minerals help power our lives. They are also necessary to produce clean energy technologies like wind and solar.

But the United States faces growing dependence on foreign adversaries like China for many of the 41 minerals that are essential to those clean energy technologies. China has nearly 10% of the global lithium market and 80 to 90% of the rare earth mineral production. The United States has 1% of the global lithium market. As we embark on accelerating this clean energy transition, we cannot trade in critical energy security for a dependence upon critical energy resources

Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph

These are good, common sense policies that both parties should be able to support that protect our environment and our jobs.

Unfortunately, some of my colleagues have opted for a ‘my way or the highway’ approach and endorsed policies like the Green New Deal or President Biden’s ill-advised decision to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Efforts to halt energy development stunt our nation’s economic growth and cost us a chance at strengthening American energy independence. These efforts will also wipe out tens of thousands of jobs. Worse yet, thousands of additional families are now at risk as hotels, restaurants, and other businesses supporting the energy industry reel from the economic shock.   

Moving forward, the issue of climate change and energy should remain at the forefront of our national discourse. Growing up on Lake Michigan, these issues are deeply personal to me. But we do not have to choose prosperity over the planet or vice versa.

We can protect our environment and support our economy through an “all of the above,” innovative energy plan that focuses on emerging clean energy technologies like renewables as well as traditional energy solutions that keep energy reliable and affordable for American families and businesses.

Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, serves as the U.S. representative from Michigan’s 6th Congressional District.