Regarding Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin III’s (D-W.Va.) March 10 op-ed, “Tackling climate change from both sides of the aisle”:
I’m glad they’re in the game. But they did not mention a carbon tax and dividend. These are needed now. So are congressional hearings on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which continues to approve pipelines responsible for carbon emissions on an Earth-destroying scale.
In May 2017, I attended a meeting of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee when it approved new FERC commissioners. I rose and said, “I am compelled to interrupt this continuation of climate change destruction,” at which point I was bodily removed and arrested. Mr. Manchin and Ms. Murkowski were there. Neither said, “Let her speak,” so I’ll speak now. Lawmakers need to understand science and use their power accordingly.
Catherine C. Strickler, Harrisonburg
The writer is founder of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley.
Reading Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin III’s (D-W.Va.) plea for bipartisan solutions to address climate change and describing their working together on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to find pragmatic policies by listening to a range of experts reminded me of the congressional Office of Technology Assessment.
Set up to help Congress to do just that, from 1972 to 1995, the OTA provided objective analysis and policy considerations of science and technology and produced 750 reports. Its 12-member congressional board consisted of six members from the Senate and six from the House, six Republicans and six Democrats. They requested studies, then stood out of the way while we did our work over a year or so and delivered the results. It was up to them to take the next steps to implement the options presented in the report. The success rate on the several reports I worked on was high because the process was credible with Congress and the wider community.
Key was highlighting solutions that “bring people together,” as Ms. Murkowski and Mr. Manchin urged. Now is the time to consider, again and as others have urged, reinstatement of this agency.
Kathy Desmond, Alexandria
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted for a coal lobbyist to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and helped open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), with a mediocre lifetime score of 45 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (Ms. Murkowski scores 17 percent), was an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and an adamant opponent of President Barack Obama’s energy policy to reduce the use of coal.
How seriously should we take their commitment to use the power of the U.S. government to pursue innovation that accelerates the development and use of alternative energies? I suppose people change. But until they demonstrate a willingness to challenge the policies and actions they have recently taken, I am hard-pressed to believe that they have.
Neil J. Liss, Salem, Ore.
The way we generate electricity today is fundamentally changing. Accordingly, as we look to the United States’ energy future, we must spend as much time planning for how current energy-sector workers will navigate this shift as we do for those coming online in renewable-energy sectors including wind and solar. Coal-fired power plants are often in places where they are the best source of family-supporting jobs for miles around.
The challenges these workers face in seeking new, equivalent employment ranges from difficult to nearly insurmountable. In many instances, technology enabling the large-scale decarbonization of coal-fired power plants holds the potential to change the economics of that and other energy-intensive industries.
We urge lawmakers to fully explore these kinds of options because, where change is inevitable, the need to mitigate the damage to workers and communities is of the utmost importance.
D. Michael Langford, Cape Coral, Fla.
The writer is national president of the Utility Workers Union of America.