May 27, 2021
U.S. Representative, California
U.S. Representative, Illinois
President and CEO, Illinois Chamber of Commerce
President and CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
As active members of the House Committee for Energy and Commerce, Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA-52) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) understand how important it is for America to develop sound, effective policies on energy and climate change. Although these two U.S. Representatives are on opposite sides of the political aisle, they know that working together is the best way to find solutions to the issues facing the nation’s energy industry.
Peters and Kinzinger recently shared insights with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during a Common Grounds event about their work and discussed how bipartisanship in Congress will positively affect the future of U.S. energy and climate policy.
Working Across the Aisle Will Bring Climate Change Solutions
Representative Peters said he has been working across the aisle to find effective, tailored solutions to climate change.
“We often hear [climate change] characterized as the next world war or something on the order of sending men to the moon,” Peters said. “Our country never did that kind of thing with one political party and for us to have success, we really need to get everyone in the game.”
“That's been my focus,” he continued. “I agree with a lot of the aggressive moves of California, but I understand that Washington D.C. isn’t Sacramento. And for us to make progress, we have to work together.”
China and Russia Remain Competitors to the U.S. for Energy and Technology
According to Representative Kinzinger, America can get “siloed” into thinking that the rest of the world is going to adopt whatever it does in regards to energy, climate change, and oil. This isn’t the case, he said, noting that the U.S. should keep a closer eye on its global competitors.
“If America is going to … tie ourselves to [a decrease in carbon output]... we have to make sure that our biggest competitors are doing the same thing,” said Kinzinger. “We know that China, for instance, is building ... over a hundred coal power fire plants right now… [and] in Germany … they now have to build a pipeline ... from Russia so that they can still claim that they’re net-carbon zero, even though they're going to now be importing gas from Russia.”
“[We should] come to this agreement of, 'Let's work hard to make sure we're reducing our carbon. Let's work hard to export American leadership in technology,'” Kinzinger added. “If we don't do it, the rest of the world is going to be like, ‘Fine, we're going to China … [or] Russia for our technology.’”
Fixing Infrastructure for the Next Generation Requires a ‘Broad Plan’ for Improvements
When asked about his plans for adequate investments in vital transportation networks in Illinois, Representative Kinzinger brought up the federal gas tax. While the tax rate has remained the same, vehicles have gotten more fuel-efficient in recent decades, which means the government is losing out on tax revenue for essential infrastructure projects.
“The average family is actually spending about half of what they used to spend to drive on the interstate system,” he said. “Those are the kinds of numbers we need to put in front of the American people and say, ‘Look, you're paying less than you used to pay. Somebody's got to pay for this.”
“I think putting an inflationary device on the gas tax to keep up with current day ... and then figuring out how to make electric vehicles pay their fair share as well [will help],” Kinzinger continued. ”The bottom line is we need to pay for this infrastructure. We need a broad infrastructure plan. We need to fix it for the next generation.”
Water and Climate Solutions for San Diego Must Address Wastewater Challenges at the Border
One key environmental issue plaguing Representative Peters’ home city of San Diego is the long-standing wastewater challenge along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The cross-border sewage and other contamination ... has to be one of the environmental catastrophes in the hemisphere,” said Peters. “It's a crisis.”
“We were getting some assistance from the Trump administration,” he continued. “We did get enough money to start to deal with it, but we're working right now on emergency measures that would stop [the issue] right now. As the new administration takes over, we've made it a priority with the EPA. So we're going to be working with the local electeds and ... activist community to make sure that we're addressing it.”
From the Series