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What Texas can teach US about green energy-commentary

The current tenor of the national argument about America’s energy future distracts us from a clear realization: Americans, regardless of political affiliation, overwhelmingly value the environment and clean energy.

Don’t take our word for it. Polling data show both conservative and more progressively-skewed registered voters enthusiastically back government support of renewables, energy efficiency, and natural gas for electricity generation.

And, it’s also clear what divides us: our lack of agreement on the right set of tactics—economic, business, and policy tools – that we can use to achieve our common goals.

We are of the strong opinion that policymakers, influencers, and funders must look beyond regulation- and mandate-heavy approaches exemplified by, say, the state of California. While California has achieved impressive results and has been hailed by some as the model for others to follow, it is certainly not the only way forward. A so-called California approach might have been appropriate under previous administrations, but it is a dissonant distraction under Mr. Trump.

We’re concerned that our national debate has overemphasized mandates, and overlooked other powerful means with the potential to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy while also building greater consensus and support in the process.

To continue on this path would be an expensive mistake.

In order to achieve truly sustainable solutions, we should stop focusing on what was or what is, and shift the conversation to “what can be.”

As part of that conversation, we’re confident that the Trump administration as well as other key influencers can find a shining example in the state of Texas—an imperfect model that represents a rational middle on the continuum of clean energy policy that balances well-timed, limited government policy with technology innovation, smart R&D and infrastructure investment, and a strong, competitive market that drives progress toward a clean energy economy.

Led by conservative decision makers and driven by competitive energy markets, Texas’s carbon dioxide emissions will fall 28 percent below 2005 levels between 2016 and 2035. These cuts will result in no appreciable increase in real wholesale electricity prices and without loss of reliability, according to a series of studies by The Brattle Group.

Moving forward, the U.S. needs to capture the competitive opportunities of the clean energy economy, as we have done in Texas. Our nation has always had a competitive advantage in creating innovative solutions to complex challenges and exporting…

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