Center for American Progress

RELEASE: The Energy Road Ahead: Cooperation or Confrontation?
Press Release

RELEASE: The Energy Road Ahead: Cooperation or Confrontation?

After an election day that replaced many moderate legislators with conservatives, it’s unclear whether President Obama’s call for cooperation with Republicans will occur over energy policy. Cooperation or Confrontation on Clean Energy? A Proposed Agenda for the New Congress and the President by Senior Fellow Daniel J. Weiss outlines a cooperation agenda. It proposes clean energy policies that have bipartisan support. On the other hand, new Congressional leaders may choose confrontation instead by seeking to weaken existing health protections.

President Obama said yesterday that “We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources in this country…There’s a lot of agreement around the need to make sure that electric cars are developed here in the United States, that we don’t fall behind other countries. Are there things that we can do to encourage that? And there’s already been bipartisan interest on those issues.”

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seemed to dismiss cooperation on energy or any other issue. He said that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“Cooperation or Confrontation” proposes a cooperative agenda for the next Congress. It also describes a scenario for confrontation.

Here are examples of bipartisan measures for a cooperation agenda:

  • Reducing oil consumption and improving energy security. The NAT GAS Act would provide tax incentives for the purchase of natural-gas-fueled trucks. It has three Senate Republican co-sponsors, and sixty Republican House co-sponsors.
  • Clean energy jobs and consumer savings. The HOME STAR program would provide incentives to retrofit homes to become more energy efficient, and would create 160,000 jobs. It passed the House with support from 11 Republicans.
  • Investments in renewable electricity and jobs. An independent Clean Energy Deployment Administration or “green bank” would help companies take new technologies from successful R&D to deployment. It was part of bills that passed with bipartisan support.
  • Oil spill response and accountability. Big oil companies must do more to prevent future spills and be held accountable for any that occur. Such provisions had bipartisan support in both bodies.

These and other bipartisan proposals would reduce oil use, create clean energy jobs, and protect us from future BP oil disasters.

However, Republican leaders have already announced a confrontation oriented energy agenda. They plan to conduct hearings and investigations that undermine climate science. Other likely attacks include blocking EPA’s efforts to set greenhouse gas pollution reduction standards as mandated by the Clean Air Act. They could also attempt to remove or undermine EPA’s ability to protect public health from various energy produced pollutants.

President Obama has extended his hand to cooperate on clean energy with new Congressional leaders. It is unclear whether this offer will be accepted or spurned.