As originally published in Real Clear Energy.
We are currently at the outset of bold policy change in Washington, D.C. With Republicans in control of the White House and both legislative bodies, it’s incumbent upon our leaders to maintain promises to voters intended to streamline government, cut burdensome regulations, and enact policy that will spur the creation of good paying jobs and bolster free-market competition. Indeed, voters are expecting results and a methodical approach toward these objectives that is both fiscally-sound and innovative.
As the Trump Administration and elected officials on Capitol Hill continue their work to revitalize American manufacturing, it will be important to balance policies that stimulate growth while also maintaining a focus on reforms that ensure we are good stewards of our critical natural resources. Nowhere is this debate more rigorous and apparent than in the ongoing discussion regarding federal methane emission regulations.
As we move toward a potential vote in the U.S. Senate on the issue of federal methane regulations, there are currently four Republican U.S. Senators who have yet to weigh in on the Bureau of Land Management methane capture rule—Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
A recent survey commissioned by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions and conducted by WPA Research illustrates clear trends in the four states these Republican Senators represent. Across party lines, our survey revealed that voters in Colorado (86%), Nevada (83%), Ohio (80%) and Tennessee (80%) support requirements that all oil and gas producers who operate on national public lands must use updated equipment and technology to prevent the leaks of methane gas during the extraction process while reducing the need to burn off excess natural gas in the air. Additionally, our survey data reveals broad public support in favor of the current federal methane regulations – therefore encouraging our leaders to carefully consider the substantial support for these common sense regulations should the issue come to a vote.
In 2014, Senator Cory Gardner accomplished what some thought to be near impossible– defeating a popular incumbent in a competitive swing state. Support for clean energy remains strong in the state of Colorado, with our recent survey reporting that 76% of all voters – composed of 61% of Republicans and 74% of Independents – favor the federal government taking steps to reduce emissions of gasses that cause global climate change. Additionally, across all four of these states, Colorado reported the highest support for updated equipment and technology requirements, with nearly nine-in-ten (86%) likely voters supporting them. Further, nearly three-in-four (72%) likely voters in the state say they believe natural gas leaks are harming the environment.
Nevada’s commitment to clean energy has continued to grow substantially with each passing year, and as we head into 2018, Senator Dean Heller is actively preparing for a vigorous challenge. Our survey results reveal a ripe opportunity for Nevada’s senior senator to prioritize the concerns of his constituents by sustaining the methane rule. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Nevada Republicans and 72% of Independents favor the federal government taking steps to reduce emissions of gasses that cause global climate change. Moreover, nearly three-in-four (72%) voters in Nevada believe that natural gas leaks are harming the environment.
In 2016, Senator Portman executed what is now considered to be by far and away the new gold standard of reelection campaigns by running an innovative, data-driven operation while elevating local issues of critical importance to working class voters. Our survey indicated that a majority of Ohio Republicans (54%) and 71% of likely independent voters polled favor the federal government taking steps to reduce methane emission.
A seventh-generation Tennessean, Senator Alexander has a long history of serving the people of the Volunteer State. In fact, he was twice elected governor and has served in the Senate since 2002. Our survey indicated that a majority of Tennessee Republicans (56 percent) and 68 percent of likely Independent voters polled favor federal action to reduce emissions of gasses that cause global climate change.
These survey results are in line with recent elections in that they show that advancing clean energy solutions is not only smart policy, it is also smart politics. While there are clear political divisions in our country, efforts to reduce emissions and maintain and improve existing regulations are a priority for voters regardless of partisan preferences. Should there be a vote, Senators Gardner, Heller, Portman, and Alexander have a prime opportunity to serve as a voice for their constituents on this issue, while continuing to serve as clean energy leaders who embrace solutions that will introduce innovation, unleash economic potential and help to create good paying jobs across the country.