The New York congressman conceded the Covid-19 pandemic has “disrupted” Democrats’ plans to consider climate change legislation this year.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), who is fine-tuning legislation in the House that aims to push the U.S. toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, said on Tuesday he did not favor banning nuclear power.
“Clean energy of any kind, including our nuclear energy, is an important factor as we go forward,” Tonko, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, said in an interview with POLITICO Live.
Tonko did not say whether he considered natural gas as one of the clean energy sources that could be part of the effort to reach net-zero emissions. Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has said the Democratic draft framework released in January does not rule out future natural gas development.
Conceding the Covid-19 pandemic has “disrupted” Democrats’ plans to consider climate change legislation this year, Tonko said his committee continues to gather feedback and will hold additional hearings as it seeks improvements to its framework.
“We will have hearings, many hearings, that will take us to the final packaging so that while we have a climate denier in the White House we’re able to go forward with using the time wisely to develop the most perfected outcome that we can with our legislation,” he said.
Tonko endorsed as a “good concept” temporarily turning renewable energy tax credits into cash grants for projects, and said he would be a forceful advocate for the clean energy sector as Congress considers further economic recovery packages.
“There’s an urgency to a lot of this response here that can enable us to empower those forces that will build a green economy and, at the same time, we’re responding to their immediate need,” he said. “We will be as forceful a voice as we can be in making certain that there’s an inclusiveness that allows for this clean energy agenda. Look at the jobs that we can provide.”
House Democrats are vowing to push more forcefully for the sector, which has lost more than 600,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic, in future bills.