Analysis | This Republican wants to outcompete China on climate change – The Washington Post

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Climate Change

Comment on this storyCommentGift ArticleGood morning and welcome to The Climate 202! We hope you had a great weekend. Today Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is touring TerraPower’s nuclear research facility north of Seattle, while we’re staying in the other Washington and enjoying the fantastic fall weather. But first:Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers wants the U.S. to outcompete China on climate — but don’t mistake her for a Democrat.Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) has long argued that America must curb its dependence on China for solar panels, batteries and other technologies key to fighting climate change.“I’m very concerned about us becoming reliant upon supply chains that are controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” McMorris Rodgers said in an interview last week. “They control supply chains around wind, solar and batteries, and that is a dangerous future for us.”AdvertisementIf Republicans regain control of the House in next month’s midterm elections, McMorris Rodgers would become chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where countering China on climate would probably become one of her central messages.Democrats have also zeroed in on this message — albeit with a different policy response. The Democrats’ landmark climate law, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, seeks to displace China as a key supplier of green technologies by providing generous tax incentives for domestic clean tech manufacturing.Both parties’ rhetoric comes as Xi Jinping on Sunday opened a Chinese Communist Party meeting where he is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term as party boss. It also comes after Beijing suspended climate talks with the United States in retaliation for the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Taiwan.AdvertisementThese recent developments have thrust competition between the United States and China — the world’s two biggest economies and greenhouse gas emitters — to the forefront of climate conversations on Capitol Hill.Another major bill that passed this summer, the Chips and Science Act, subsidizes U.S. semiconductor manufacturing to counter the manufacturing capacity concentrated in Taiwan and China.‘An early voice’In the interview last week, McMorris Rodgers argued that Democrats want to transition to clean energy too quickly, risking greater reliance on China in the near term.“It’s critical that we are not wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on a political agenda that is forcing a green energy transition that … makes America more reliant on the Chinese Communist Party for batteries and solar panels,” she said.Advertisement“And China does not have the protections in place — we know there’s human rights violations,” she added, referring to allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang, which produces about 50 percent of the world’s supply of polysilicon, a raw material used to make solar panels.Heather Reams, president of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a right-leaning environmental advocacy group, said McMorris Rodgers has long tied energy issues to Donald Trump’s brand of “America First” foreign policy in a way that appeals to her base.“She was an early voice on an ‘America First’ agenda dealing with energy,” Reams said. “It just resonates incredibly well with Republicans overall.”Quill Robinson, vice president of advocacy for the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative environmental advocacy group geared toward millennials, agreed.Advertisement“It’s something that Republicans can and should contribute to the conversation as we make our sources of energy cleaner,” he said.Policy vs. politicsDespite her vocal advocacy for countering China on climate, McMorris Rodgers voted against two bills — the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips and Science Act — that seek to accomplish this goal.Ilaria Mazzocco, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has written about both bills, said the Inflation Reduction Act in particular is poised to slash America’s dependence on Chinese supply chains for clean tech, even as global supply chains will continue to run through China for some time.Asked why she opposed the Inflation Reduction Act, McMorris Rodgers argued that it would accelerate the nation’s energy transition at too steep a cost.Advertisement “Both California and Europ …

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