March 10, 2010

Vote for clean energy is vote for national security

Creating Incentives

— BRUNSWICK — When the House of Representatives passed landmark energy legislation earlier this year, they did not only make America ''greener,'' they made it safer.

By creating incentives to use and produce clean energy, this legislation will begin to free us from the foreign oil addiction that binds us dangerous dealers.

By promoting energy efficiency, the American Clean Energy and Security Act will similarly loosen the grip of oil dependence that distorts our foreign policy.

And by slowing climate change, this bill would help head off what the National Intelligence Council calls one of the gravest long-term threats facing the international system.

All that may sound like too great an impact for a single piece of legislation to claim.

It's not. The fate of the Clean Energy and Security Act as it moves to the U.S. Senate is inseparable from the fate of our nation's security.

The crux of the link between energy and security is the fact that the United States consumes 25 percent of the world's oil but controls less than 3 percent of the supply.

Tipping the other end of the production-consumption scale are nations like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Kazakhstan, to name just a few.

Of the top 10 holders of oil reserves in the world as of April 2008, all but one are considered to be failed states or in danger of becoming failed states.

These are the type of trading partners to whom we are beholden, whose whims we must honor, if we are to feed the energy beast.

The Clean Energy and Security Act would slash our oil needs dramatically by requiring electric utilities to meet 20 percent of their electricity demand through renewable sources and efficiencies by 2020.

At the same time, it increases our ability to create our own energy sources -- and not incidentally, jobs -- by investing billions in new energy technologies and efficiency.

On another front, our oil addiction gives those who would do us harm a powerful weapon.

Terrorists clearly understand that our economic strength and therefore our overall strength as a nation is tied to affordable energy.

There were fewer than 50 known terrorist attacks against oil and gas facilities before Sept. 11, 2001. By 2006 that number reached 344.

Less immediately tangible than terrorist threats, but indisputably equally dangerous, is the global instability that will result from the effects of climate change on land and livelihoods.

For example, rising sea levels, drought and other extremes of weather will drastically interrupt substance farming, which in turn will lead to mass migration.

A massive influx of people challenges even the most stable of nations. In weaker ones, it creates a vacuum of law in order and a safe haven for terrorists.

The recently passed energy bill reduces carbon emissions from major U.S. sources more than 80 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

Complementary measures in the legislation, such as investments in preventing tropical deforestation, will achieve significant additional reductions in carbon emissions and slow the march of destruction considerably.

Here in Maine, we see how this affects our lives personally. We're losing old industry jobs that can be replaced with new energy jobs like wind and wood pellets and other renewable energies -- all natural resources we can harvest in our own state.

The United States cannot fight off global warming alone.

But it is a vital step in the right direction and an important signal to our friends -- and enemies -- that we are serious about protecting the environment because we are unrelenting in our commitment to protect America.

— Special to the Press Herald

The Clean Energy and Security Act would slash our oil needs dramatically by requiring electric utilities to meet 20 percent of their electricity demand through renewable sources and efficiencies by 2020. At the same time, it increases our ability to create our own energy sources -- and not incidentally, jobs -- by investing billions in new energy technologies and efficiency.

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