The Ripon Forum

Volume 54, No. 3

August 2020

In this edition

By on August 3, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic having no end in sight, the focus of our elected leaders in Washington has primarily been on stabilizing the economy until an effective treatment and vaccine can be found.  But some leaders on Capitol Hill also believe that in addition to stabilizing our economy, we should seek ways in which we can modernize it.  Lisa Murkowski is one of those leaders.  Over the past 12 months, the Alaska Senator — who serves as Chair of the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources — has been holding a series of hearings, business meetings, and bipartisan negotiations aimed at exploring ways that U.S. energy policies can be updated and brought in line with the needs of the American economy and the American people today.

The result of these hearings and negotiations is the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA).  Authored by Murkowski and her Committee Co-Chair, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the plan is a compilation of more than 50 energy-related measures considered and individually reported by the Energy and Natural Resources panel last year that will strengthen our domestic economy, national security, and international competitiveness while facilitating cleaner energy that protects human health and the global environment.  Murkowski writes about this landmark proposal in this edition of The Ripon Forum, and explains why this time of crisis should also be a moment of reform.  “Whenever crisis hits,” the veteran lawmaker writes, “we have a tendency to reach for whatever is on the shelf. In the case of the coronavirus, there wasn’t much on the shelf to help. But we are now some five months into the pandemic and the economic catastrophe which followed. There are things we can do to help build a stronger future for our nation, and many relate to energy policy.”

The American Energy Innovation Act includes measures that have been sponsored in one form or another by 72 Senators.  It is also supported by a wide array of outside groups and organizations.  One of those organizations is the American Conservation Coalition, an organization that engages young conservatives on environmental issues.  “One key way to lead the way forward on a new climate change strategy is by advancing both energy innovation and diversity in energy sources,” writes ACC Executive Vice President & CEO Danielle Butcher in this edition of the Forum.  The American Energy Innovation Act, she stated, “would directly work to advance an innovation-based approach to clean energy while also strengthening our domestic economy and national security.”  Former Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) is another conservative pushing for a reset in U.S. energy policies.  “We have to recognize that previous economic growth is correlated to increased greenhouse gas emissions and that we will need to break this relationship by first understanding the costs of emitting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere,” Curbelo writes in  an essay.”  

In addition to looking at how Congress can reset the U.S. economy in the area of energy, this latest edition of the Forum also provides a status report on the battle against the coronavirus and the effort to get our suppressed economy off the ground.  Dr. Eric Toner of Johns Hopkins leads our coverage in this regard with an essay about the continuing spread of the virus and why masks and distance remains our best defense.  American Enterprise Institute scholar and frequent Forum contributor Rick Hess provides another insightful assessment on the state of education in America and, specifically, how college life may look like in this age of the coronavirus.   Pollyanna Sanderson of the Future of Privacy Forum writes about the importance of contact tracing in fighting COVID-19, while, in a pair of essays, Adam Michel of the Heritage Foundation and Karl Smith of the Tax Foundation examine the effort to restart the economy.  

Transportation for America Chairman John Robert Smith explains why repairs to the nation’s infrastructure would be a smart investment that fuels economic growth, and Tom Garrett, the Secretary General of the Community of Democracies talks about the importance of democracies working together to fight the pandemic and the mission of his organization, which marked its 20th anniversary this year.  And in our latest Ripon Profile, we business professor and State Senator Randy Feenstra, who captured the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District and, in doing so, became known in Washington as the man who beat Steve King.

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of the Forum, and welcome any questions or comments you may have.

Lou Zickar
Editor of The Ripon Forum
louzickar@riponsociety.org

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