As we celebrate Earth Day, and think especially about energy and the environment, there is exciting news from Capitol Hill. After months of work and negotiation, a new bipartisan energy and climate change bill will be introduced in the Senate next week.
Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham have developed a plan to address these crucial issues and we will soon know the details of the legislation.
As a member of the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now (CLEAN), I am excited about this new opportunity to come to grips with America’s energy future.
We are all familiar with the environmental and economic reasons for reducing our consumption of fossil fuel; today let’s concentrate on national security. America’s dependence on foreign oil not only hurts our economy but helps our enemies and puts our security at risk.
The United States is spending $1 billion dollars a day overseas on foreign oil – money that could instead be invested here at home to create much needed jobs and help keep America safe. This new bill helps put America back in control and makes America more energy independent, creating an estimated 1.7 million new jobs and developing secure, clean energy sources that are made in America.
As the world’s single largest user of oil, the United States is paying to finance unfriendly countries without reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
In 2009 the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) Military Advisory Board concluded that “overdependence on imported oil-by the U.S. and other nations-tethers America to unstable and hostile regimes, subverts foreign policy goals, and requires the U.S. to stretch its military presence across the globe.” Therefore, a “major shift in energy policy and practice is required.”
Furthermore, military and intelligence experts are recognizing that global warming poses serious environmental, social, political and military risks. All these consequences can be ameliorated if we reduce our demand for oil, invest in clean energy and curb global warming.
In the meantime, “big oil” is spending record amounts to maintain the status quo and to block clean energy and climate legislation. The American Petroleum Institute is reported to have spent $75.2 million for public relations and advertising in 2008. Last year, in only the third quarter of 2009 the oil and gas industry outspent all other sectors lobbying on climate change, with ExxonMobil reportedly leading the pack spending $7.2 million.
It’s time for citizens who are concerned about this issue to speak up. Let’s not leave public comment to those who have gotten bent out of shape about “cap and trade” (a private sector approach that worked to reduce acid rain) or to those who profit from the current dependence on fossil fuels.
America can be more energy independent, create new jobs and improve our environment – all at the same time.
Senator Whipple represents the 31st District in the Virginia State Senate. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]