Strong conservative leadership is needed to solve our climate challenge 

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American conservatives have a long tradition of environmental conservation and stewardship, yet modern-day environmentalism is dominated by loud, far-left voices advocating for ineffective policies. 

How did we get here? From Conservation President Teddy Roosevelt to Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush 41, there is a strong legacy of Republican presidents effectively solving the environmental challenges of their day with common-sense solutions. Our past leaders proved that environmental conservation truly is conservative, and today’s Republicans should be no different.  

Putting conservative values into action to solve our current environmental challenges, however, requires strong leadership in Congress and beyond.  

As conservatives, we have a responsibility to conserve what is good and precious about our country, and that includes our beautiful natural environment. We know that rising temperatures, fueled by greenhouse gas emissions, threaten that goal. Climate change will, without question, impact key sectors of our economy, from energy to transportation to trade to agriculture. The left tends to catastrophize the challenge in front of us, but as conservatives, we can champion an optimistic way forward. 

Fortunately this is made easier by the fact that our solutions, rooted in common sense and the power of the market, work for both people and the planet.  

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For example, an innovative all-of-the-above energy approach will reduce emissions not just here in the United States but around the world. American energy is clean energy, plain and simple, whether that’s zero-emission, baseload nuclear, renewables, or even responsible use of fossil fuels. As the only nuclear engineer in Congress, I, Congressman Williams, am particularly excited about the future of advanced nuclear technology, which is something I’ve heavily supported in my position as the chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. 

We have to look beyond being simply energy independent; America must be energy dominant. This will only be accomplished by a true all-of-the-above approach, taking advantage of every resource at our disposal to ensure American energy security. Too many politicians are guilty of favoring some sources over others, but we must avoid these false choices. The United States is a vast, geographically diverse country, so energy solutions that work in Arizona don’t necessarily translate to New York. An all-of-the-above approach recognizes this and allows states to focus on energy sources that serve their communities best.  

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Left-wing environmentalists often try to shun clean nuclear energy and encourage divestment from all fossil fuels. But nuclear energy remains the most abundant and reliable clean energy source we have at our disposal, and it will be necessary for a grid that continues to add intermittent renewables online. We saw the failed ideas of the anti-nuclear environmental movement in action, when they shut down the Indian Point Nuclear Plant in New York City a few years ago, causing emissions to rapidly spike. Misinformation and public fear has long marred the industry’s reputation, but the truth is we can’t address climate change without clean nuclear power. 

American natural gas, too, is an important piece of the energy puzzle that is too often vilified. Liquified natural gas produced here in the United States is much cleaner than the energy produced by our global competitors, and exporting this energy is geopolitically crucial to our European allies. President Biden’s decision to halt new American LNG exports is a blow both to our allies and to the climate, which is why House Republicans sought answers from the administration through a resolution and letter. We cannot outsource our energy needs to the likes of Russia and China. American energy is the way forward, regardless of the source.  

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Conservatives, on the other hand, have too often opposed clean energy innovation and addressing climate concerns. According to the Survey of Young Conservatives on Climate Change and Clean Energy, a full 79 percent of young conservatives think Republicans in Congress should care about climate change — but only 54 percent believe Republicans do. But we know that Americans of all political backgrounds want environmental solutions. 

Our belief is that conservatives can not only champion these energy solutions but lead this crucial conversation into the future. American energy dominance is not at odds with addressing climate challenges. In fact, it’s our best solution. 

Brandon Williams represents New York’s 22nd congressional district and is the only nuclear engineer in Congress. Chris Barnard is the president of the American Conservation Coalition Action (ACC Action), the largest conservative grassroots environmental organization in the country. 

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