As the 112th Congress ushers in new faces and a new agenda, I am disappointed to read newly appointed Chairman Fred Upton’s legislative priorities for the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. His proposals are directly contrary to what the national security community and our top military brass are saying, and as a result, it puts the safety of our country in jeopardy.
Right off the bat, the Committee’s top Energy priority is to stop what they call “[Obama’s] global warming regulatory regime” by restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate dangerous greenhouse gas (GHG) – the pollutants that are causing destabilizing climate change. EPA’s regulatory capacity presents one of the best mechanisms our country has for seriously addressing GHG, and thus, reducing the conflicts of the future.
According to the Department of Defense, climate change will accelerate global instability and the deterioration of weak and failing states. When millions of people get displaced, as seen recently in the floods in Pakistan, it creates instability and increases the potential for terrorist organizations to take advantage of that instability. The US military has and will continue to have more than it’s fair share of foreign crises they’re expected to handle. We shouldn’t add to our military’s burden by allowing domestic legislators to cripple the EPA’s attempt to mitigate these occurrences.
Furthermore, the EPA is simply stepping up where Congress failed. Congress, unfortunately, has not been able to produce any meaningful legislation aimed at mitigating climate change and its harmful consequences. It’s clear the Committee under Chairman Upton’s leadership is not serious about combating climate change and strengthening national security.
What’s more, the Committee fails to seriously address the threats our country’s addiction to oil poses. We send more than $1 billion a day overseas for oil, with much of that money going into the hands of countries who do not share our values. While domestic production is important, simply drilling out of this situation, as proposed in Committee agenda, is shortsighted and will just lead to more American dollars filling the coffers of overseas regimes. Our country needs to invest in efficiency measures and alternative fuels that will move us away from oil and all the economic and national security threats associated with it.
As my brother, an Afghanistan veteran, alluded to earlier this month in his blog piece, thirty-three retired Generals and Admirals told America that reducing our dependence on oil and reducing harmful GHG emissions is critical to our national security last March. We need to heed their advice. Evidently, Chairman Upton is not listening.
James Whitaker is the Southern Regional Field Director for the Truman National Security Project based in Washington, D.C.