How do Republicans vs. Democrats justify clean-energy investment? Governors from Washington, New Mexico and Indiana explain their logic on Zero.
Republicans in the US have to walk a tightrope when they talk about acting on climate change. Their job has been made harder since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the biggest US climate bill that provides huge investment opportunities for states led by Republicans.
So how do they justify accepting those investments? Indiana’s Governor Eric Holcomb explained on the Zero podcast: “We can cultivate the sun here. Like we do soybeans,” said Holcomb. “But it’s got to make dollars and cents.”
Indiana will be home to the largest solar field — Mammoth Solar — when it is completed in 2024. The project will be roughly the same size as Manhattan, and costs an estimated $1.5 billion.
Those kinds of projects have helped push Indiana high up on the leaderboard of US states with solar projects. “We’re a small state, relatively speaking, but we have a lot of land, which is required” for solar, said Holcomb. “It’s so exciting.”
President Joe Biden has set a target of reducing the US emissions by 50% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Analysis by the Congressional Research Service predicts that emissions will fall by up to 40% due to federal efforts like the IRA. “That means that states need to carry the ball across the goal line,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, told Zero.
States led Democrats are leading the charge. In February, Washington held its first cap-and-invest auction, which will incentivize businesses to invest in low-carbon technologies. This comes alongside almost $2 billion in April’s budget to incentivize the use of cleantech like EVs, electric bikes, and heat pumps. Similar sweeping efforts have been made in California, Minnesota, and Colorado.
New Mexico is the second largest oil and gas producing state in the US, and it’s led by Democrats. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham told Zero that she worked with the oil and gas industry in targeting methane leaks, relying on new satellites and other imaging technology to clamp down on emissions of the potent greenhouse gas.