I am a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and I support Senate passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).
Don’t for a minute believe that I’m moved by some mushy thinking about the virtues of “going green”. Whatever you might think about climate change, the plain truth is that global economic development is depleting energy resources. Competition over scarce energy resources will ratchet up the pressure in already volatile regions, increasing political instability, extremism and violent conflicts. The United States is the only country on earth capable of responding to large scale conflicts. Whether we like it or not, the world will call upon us to act when violence breaks out. In other words, inaction today on energy policy will cost American lives abroad tomorrow.
The bill before Congress will reduce our dependence on oil and lay the groundwork for renewable, affordable energy produced here in America. It represents a huge step toward getting American business and American consumers weaned off of the oil that funds hostile regimes and, indirectly, extremist ideologies. Where America leads on energy, the world economy will follow. This smart energy policy is a powerful tool for defusing one of the deepest vulnerabilities that the United States faces in a complicated world.
The effort to strengthen America’s energy policy has long been characterized by big talk, followed by little action. This failure to act has hurt us in the past, and it continues to hurt us. Just recently, Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, announced that Persian Gulf oil money is funding the Taliban in its fight against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. It could not be clearer that the time for more talk is over. It is time to act. The Senate should support ACES and send it to President Obama to sign.
Critics of the legislation, such as the American Petroleum Institute, contend that jobs could be lost and energy costs could rise. Don’t believe these self-serving arguments. Some economists believe that the next economic revolution will be based on developing green energy. There is tremendous potential for job creation if we diversify our energy sources and build the infrastructure for clean, renewable, and affordable alternatives to oil. As for energy costs, the oil companies seem to think Americans have ridiculously short memories. Just last year, oil was racing toward $200 a barrel. It was only when the wheels came off the economy that the price of oil came down. Oil prices are notoriously volatile and there are some very unsavory characters with their hands on the supply spigot. It only takes one damaging hurricane, one shut pipeline, or one angry, oil-rich dictator to drive the price of oil sky high. We have the means to fix this situation. Now is the time to get started.
Going forward, we cannot simply hope that oil prices will be affordable and stable. We cannot simply hope that there won’t be a conflict in the Strait of Hormuz, a flare up in the Middle East, or a crisis in Central Asia. Right now, we need a smart, comprehensive energy plan that enhances our security by providing for renewable, affordable, and clean energy produced in the United States. That plan is ACES.
The Senate has the opportunity to enact the American Clean Energy and Security Act. As Georgians, we understand better than most what happens when our leaders ignore resource issues and keep their heads in the sand hoping that everything will work itself out. We cannot afford such an approach on national security. Tell our Senators that they need to support ACES. It will be good for the economy and good for the environment, but most importantly, it is critical to our national security.
Scott Holcomb is an attorney and a volunteer member of Operation FREE, a group of veterans advocating for renewable energy as a national security priority.