OPINION: To freeze out bad policy and Putin, GOP should advance America-first energy solutions

trans-Alaska pipeline, TAPS, Alyeska, oil, Tanana River

Just more than a year into Democratic control of the federal climate and energy agenda, and the White House has canceled the Keystone pipeline, limited oil and gas development and rolled out regulatory red tape, all while pleading with OPEC to ratchet up global supply. Even in the face of Russia’s invasion, the Biden administration refuses to reverse decisions that kneecap domestic production.

As a lifelong Alaskan, I find this maddening. A free flow of our resources is key for strengthening national security, keeping down prices, and — given how clean U.S. production is — even meeting global emissions goals. And yet in the name of climate, this administration has taken up policies that do the opposite.

As the chairwoman of the Alaska College Republicans, I see opportunity where failed political decision-making exists. Elected Republicans have an opening to seize the climate and energy issue and advance superior, conservative solutions of our own that can strengthen our national security, boost our economy, and also clean up the environment.

Taking up the mantle on climate and energy is critical for preempting bad policy. It’s also necessary to win the vote of young voters like me. As is borne out poll after poll, my generation cares about climate and wants our federal leaders to offer real solutions. To be a party of the future, the GOP must have solutions to protect the future.

Thankfully, Alaska’s Republican leadership is already charting a path forward. Sen. Dan Sullivan, for example, has been rightly calling out the hypocrisy of offshoring energy production when cleaner production can be achieved right here in the U.S. In this vein, alongside Cynthia Lummis, R-Wy., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., he has hammered out a climate policy framework, “The American Energy, Jobs, and Climate Plan,” that would streamline energy production and promote jobs domestically.

To go the distance, the United States also needs a solution that would fully leverage the might of American economic and trade power to keep foreign nations in check and promote clean American innovation both at home and abroad.

The cornerstone of Republican climate and energy trade policy should be a border carbon adjustment, or BCA. First popularized by Republican Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz, a BCA would leverage U.S. trade muscle to hold other countries accountable for emissions by imposing a fee on the pollution content of imported goods.

This trade tool is the America First playbook applied to climate and energy policy. As new research highlights, U.S. manufacturing and energy production — particularly here in Alaska — is much cleaner, more carbon efficient than the world average, underscoring the superiority of America’s free enterprise system. Compared to Chinese and Russian counterparts, U.S. industry is 3-4 times more carbon-efficient.

Despite this, American producers get zero financial benefit for their clean production under the current rules of trade. This is no way to put U.S. businesses and workers first.

That’s why leveling a BCA is so necessary. It would reward our carbon efficiency, give American companies a leg up, and keep jobs here at home, all while delivering on increasingly important climate and environmental goals. Aligning American economic and environmental goals — that’s the way Republicans lead.

On top of its economic and environmental benefits, a border adjustment would also bolster national security. As outlined by former president Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. General H.R. McMaster, and Sen. Cramer, a border carbon adjustment could help bring bad actors like Putin’s Russia to its knees. Even one of Russia’s oil barons this fall warned that border adjustments could inflict much more harm on the Russian economy than sanctions.

Tapping into America’s “carbon advantage” is a clear opportunity to showcase the power and wisdom of “America-first” applied to our climate and energy challenges. With the midterm elections quickly approaching, and voters more attuned to these issues than ever, I urge our leaders to prioritize this strategic approach.

Brooke Cusack is the chairwoman of the Alaska College Republicans.

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