GOP Rep Bob Inglis: Chinese Will Eat Our Lunch on Clean Energy, Climate Change

  • Published on December 30th, 2010

The good news: There’s one GOP representative that knows climate change is real, and says we have to do something about it.

The bad news: He lost his Republican primary to a Tea Party-backed candidate who will take his place in Washington next week.

“To my free enterprise colleagues, whether you think it’s all a bunch of hooey, what we talk about in this committee — the Chinese don’t, and they plan on eating our lunch in the next century, working on these problems,” Representative Bob Inglis (R- SC) told his House colleagues. “We may press the pause button for a few years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button.”

Inglis had been a staunch conservative throughout his career, with a 93.4% lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union. But he was also a proponent of clean energy, particularly hydrogen, and was the cosponsor of the BRIGHT Energy Savings Act of 2007 (H.R. 1705) that mandated the Federal Government switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs or other energy-efficient bulbs.

He also sponsored a carbon tax bill, calling it the best way to push innovation. He wrote about it in a 2008 New York Times op-ed with Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics guru Art Laffer:

“We need to impose a tax on the thing we want less of (carbon dioxide) and reduce taxes on the things we want more of (income and jobs). A carbon tax would attach the national security and environmental costs to carbon-based fuels like oil, causing the market to recognize the price of these negative externalities.”

He’s trying to get his co-sponsor on the bill, fellow-conservative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), to re-introduce it in the new Congress.

“The certainty and transparency of a carbon tax that is revenue-neutral will drive innovation much faster than the uncertainties of carbon trading,” he said. “That kind of accountability is a bedrock conservative principle. Actually, it’s even a biblical principle.

“Individual consumers acting in their own self-interest will create a marketplace that will efficiently drive down prices and do what we’ve done with the telecommunications and computer industries,” he said. “The genius of America is that people seeking to make money will innovate quickly.”

With the GOP takeover in the House he would have been the chair of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee. Instead, he’s going home to his Northern Greenville County farm. Which is too damn bad; we could use him in Washington right now.

(Bob Inglis photo AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Yanov)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
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  • The article is written on the premise that clean energy is a good investment decision. If it turns out to be a good investment, China will be well ahead of the U.S. The problem is that economic interests and the U.S. citizenry are not convinced.

    The comment “We need to impose a tax on the thing we want less of (carbon dioxide)…” shares the same basic bias as the article, it presumes that people agree that we need less CO2. The global warming folks have thus far lost the messaging battle on this.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      Great. So now we’ll decide what makes a sound investment based on WHO SHOUTS THE LOUDEST?
      If that’s the path we take, China will deserve to eat our lunch.
      (Oh, and for the record – economic interests ARE convinced about alternative energy. The only people shouting them down are the oil companies and coal companies, and since they’ve got more money than God they’re winning the argument.)