Renewable energy and agriculture reduce carbon footprint in Central Washington

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Rep. Dan Newhouse

Last week, the House voted on legislation that would force the president to participate in the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce carbon emissions in the United States and the world. On the surface, this bill paints a pretty picture: reducing our carbon footprint. However, this federally-mandated top-down approach will not help advance that goal.

I celebrate the fact that the United States is leading the global community in reducing carbon emissions, but President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement because other countries, like China and India, are not being held accountable or pulling their weight. Americans are taking – and will continue to take – steps to reduce our carbon emissions with commonsense ideas, free market innovation, and renewable energy sources like those we enjoy in Central Washington.

Hydropower generated by the dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers provides clean, renewable and affordable energy to ratepayers across the Pacific Northwest and nuclear energy generated at the Columbia Generating Station is clean and carbon-free. I offered two amendments to the bill that would highlight the benefits these industries contribute to our nation’s goal of reducing our carbon footprint. Unfortunately, Democratic leadership would not even allow them to be considered.

Instead, we voted on a partisan bill that ignores the innovation, collaboration, and progress being made by the U.S. energy sector. Additionally, the bill does nothing to recognize the progress being made by other economic drivers across the country, including one that is very near and dear to Washington state: agriculture.

A farmer’s livelihood is based entirely off the ability to grow and raise crops, and I learned at a very young age that Mother Nature and the weather could make or break a growing season. As we focus on reducing carbon emissions, it is important to remember that farmers and other members of the agriculture community are leaders.

We teach our children that planting trees is good for clean air because it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Farmers in Central Washington are regularly planting and cultivating trees, grapes, corn, potatoes, hops and more. In fact, between perennial and annual crops, a single small to medium-sized farm in Central Washington can grow and farm over 1 billion plants every year. Our local farmers are known for supplying fresh, quality produce to families across the state, but they are also helping to provide clean air for future generations.

I have traveled across my district and have witnessed the strong conservation efforts of farmers and ranchers and heard about the benefits of diverse power portfolios. We must respect our environment and protect our clean air and water, but unnecessary bureaucratic mandates, like U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, being approved by the new majority in the House of Representatives stifle innovation and harm our economy. Instead, central Washington’s all-of-the-above energy policies and responsible agriculture practices should serve as an example of environmental stewardship to countries around the world as we work toward the common goal of reducing global emissions.

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