Written by Nick Culver
This week, dozens of former servicemen and women stood with U.S. Senate leaders as they introduced a measure that will rein in runaway carbon pollution and sever America’s reliance on foreign oil producers.
“It’s about one word: security. Economic security, energy security, national security,” said Senator John Kerry, the clean energy bill’s co-author. With nearly $1 billion a day going overseas to meet our demand for oil, more and more Americans are understanding the interconnectedness of these issues.
Most of the world’s proven oil reserves are controlled by countries that don’t share our values and some of our petro-dollars eventually leak to groups that would do us harm. The Senate bill would cut 20% of our carbon emissions by 2020 and 83% by 2050, thereby providing powerful market incentives for clean energy production right here at home.
The measure also includes a sophisticated price collar system that ensures extra costs are not passed onto consumers due to carbon market fluctuations. Critics have struggled to reconcile so-called “studies” intended to discredit clean energy legislation, some of which claim its a transparent give-away to high-earning households and others that claim it distributes income from rich to poor.
More objective sources, such as the Congressional Budget Office, have puts the cost of climate legislation around $175 annually per household by 2020. Other analysts have calculated that climate measures could increase household income and lead to 1.9 million new jobs through development of a booming American clean energy sector.
There is a clear national security imperative for preventing climate-altering pollution from destabilizing key regions abroad and facilitating future terrorist recruitment. As with many international issues, American leadership is required for a global reduction in carbon pollution. The potential scale of the climate problem equals or exceeds any challenges we have face before, while the costs of action are comparatively modest.
As President Obama described the Senate measure: “we are one step closer to putting America in control of our energy future and making America more energy independent.” This Senate bill gets the economics right, reduces our energy dependence, and protects our national security interests.