By Kathy Castor, U.S. Rep. Florida District 14
Clean energy is cheaper energy — and it’s fundamental to reducing costly climate risks. That’s why, as chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I’ve made it a priority to boost innovation to reduce heat-trapping pollution and lower the costs of climate-fueled catastrophes.
I’m incredibly proud of the progress our select committee has made: We’ve helped Congress follow the science, build coalitions and turn hundreds of climate solutions into law. But now, as Republicans take control of the House, they’ve signaled that they will dismantle our climate committee, even though our work on solving the climate crisis is far from over.
Our efforts remain urgent. Climate disasters are putting America’s security and stability at serious risk, with higher costs, harsh impacts and greater injury and loss of life. Ignoring the climate crisis is not an option for the millions of Americans whose lives have been upended by floods, wildfires and destructive storms like Hurricane Ian.
These effects will continue to grow unless Congress does the serious work needed to reduce pollution and deploy renewable energy. Solving the climate crisis is hard work; it requires having a plan that addresses the needs of different parts of the country, setting targets, measuring our progress and making key investments that put families over polluters.
But Republicans have no such plan. Instead, they continue to double down on burning heat-trapping fossil fuels, on helping Big Oil CEOs make record profits on the backs of workers and families, and on voting against climate solutions.
And while some Republicans have stopped denying the science of climate change, they are poised to return to failed policies that hurt everyday Americans and cost us a lot.
We have an opportunity to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis. Renewable power is set to almost double in the next five years worldwide and is poised to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation, as the International Energy Agency reported last week.
And clean energy is the foundation for energy security and affordability, as dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin wield fossil fuel resources as a weapon. That’s why our Democratic House majority has worked to expand clean energy and secure America’s clean energy independence.
In 2020, our select committee released the landmark Climate Crisis Action Plan, providing a roadmap with more than 700 policy recommendations for Congress to build a clean energy economy.
Today, we’ve helped turn more than 300 of those recommendations into law, thanks to passage of laws like the Inflation Reduction Act, which is the largest clean energy and climate investment in U.S. history; the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes communities more resilient to extreme weather events; and the CHIPS and Science Act, which empowers America’s industries to produce the semiconductor chips that are essential to our clean energy transition.
We also made progress by taking a whole-of-government approach to addressing climate change in a way that creates good-paying local jobs, slashes energy bills, bolsters our domestic industries, uplifts disadvantaged communities and positions America to lead the emerging clean economy.
This week, our select committee is issuing a final progress report, laying out our accomplishments and highlighting additional opportunities to address the climate crisis. As the 117th Congress draws to a close, I hope our report will stand as a reminder that the fight for climate action must continue – guided by science, rooted in justice, and powered by American workers.
Rep. Kathy Castor leads the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. She represents Florida District 14, which includes Tampa as well as parts of St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County.
This op-ed was first published in the Tampa Bay Times, which is part of the Invading Seas media collaborative.