House Republicans plan to unveil their own plan to fight climate change later this month, according to three people familiar with the matter, a reflection of the pressure on the party to come up with solutions to a problem it had previously denied or ignored.
The legislative package, being spearheaded by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, is still being assembled but is expected to include a plan to plant as many as a trillion trees, said two of the people who asked not to be identified in describing private communications. It is also expected to include a focus the research and development of low-emissions sources of power as well as the development of carbon capture technologies and natural gas plants.
The initiative, which is expected to be rolled out the week of April 19 to coincide with Earth Day on April 22, may also include language designed to hinder efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing. It could call for streamlining the process for winning a permit to build a pipeline and other infrastructure as well as mine critical minerals.
The package is also expected to include a proposed streamlining of a bedrock environmental law: the National Environmental Policy Act.
A spokeswoman for McCarthy declined to comment.
The effort is designed to counter President Joe Biden’s focus on the issue of climate change. Biden has plans to host a summit on the issue with global leaders later this month as well as to unveil a new commitment to cutting US greenhouse gas emissions that may call for reductions as high as 50% or more from the levels recorded in 2005 by the end of the decade.
The GOP plan isn’t expected to include mandated limits on greenhouse gas emissions or a tax on carbon dioxide emissions and probably won’t win over environmentalists who see the party’s efforts on the issue as too little too late.
“Congressional Republicans have yet to understand that coal, oil and gas are not solutions to the climate crisis -- they are the cause of it,” said Adam Beitman, a spokesman for the Sierra Club. “What would be truly innovative, and a real development, would be if they released a plan that actually does something on the scale and timeline necessary to tackle the climate crisis, rather than once again exacerbating or ignoring it.”
The GOP action comes as the party’s stance on the issue shifts from sowing doubt about climate change -- or ignoring it all together -- to grappling with how to best address it in the face of pressure from young voters and public alarm over deadly storms and wildfires linked to global warming. The challenge for Republicans is addressing the issue in a way that comports with their conservative principles of less regulation and increased domestic energy development.
It won’t be easy. House Republicans last year proposed fairly modest items like an expansion of a tax-credit for oil companies and measures to bury carbon dioxide in the ground and finance the development of carbon capture for natural gas power plants. It was met with immediate criticism from the right wing, which branded the plan the “Green New Deal lite.”
“I know all of this is well-meaning and an attempt to counter-program the Democrats on climate,” said Mike McKenna, who previously served as a deputy assistant to former President Donald Trump’s White House. But “there are those who want to make energy more expensive and those who don’t. The rest of it is just chit-chat.”