Opinion: Clean energy investments will protect communities and create jobs
Why our leaders in Congress must act now
We find ourselves in very turbulent times, both here in the United States and around the world. In the midst of this turmoil, let’s take a moment to reflect on the opportunities ahead to improve the lives of our people and to protect the planet – but only if we make the right choices.
The need to transition to a clean energy future has never been more evident, between increasingly devastating climate change fueled extreme weather events and the global instability of energy markets and energy supply chains as well as rapid increase in the cost of energy felt by consumers. Now is the time to make ambitious and significant investments in clean energy that will provide economic opportunity, lowering energy costs for families and creating millions of high-paying jobs while meeting the moment on climate action.
The most recent report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in April 2022 describes an ever more dire picture on the global impacts and disruption of climate change but also provides clear hope for the future in terms of building a strong and resilient clean energy economy. The IPCC report underlines that our current opportunities to make significant progress are not constrained by technology or the financial resources that are available to be marshalled by both the private sector and government. The ways and means for action exist – it is a question of political will and imagination in all areas of society, but action and policy choices particularly reside with our political leaders.
Public opinion polling released earlier this year shows support for ambitious climate action in the context of rising energy costs, particularly the increase in the price of gasoline. Polling by Hart Research Associates in March of 2022 reveals that 61 percent of voters say that America’s continued dependence on oil is a major cause of rising gasoline prices, and 59 percent say it is very important for the president and Congress to take action to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine significantly adds to the global instability of energy prices, and a large majority of voters (59 percent) see Putin’s war as a major contributing cause of the steep rise in gasoline prices. Similarly large majorities (60 percent) also blame price gouging by oil companies and decisions by oil producers to limit production as a major factor that is keeping energy prices high.
Rising energy prices have deep impacts on the budgets of our citizens and threaten the economic health of our nation as we continue to recover from a global pandemic. Reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels with policies to incentivize the development of clean energy resources are strongly supported by voters, with 71 percent in support of accelerating the development of offshore wind, 69 percent in support of tax credits to encourage new investments in solar and wind energy, and 64 percent in support of passing incentives to lower the price of electric vehicles and increase the number of electric vehicles manufactured in the United States.
While voters strongly support the concept of U.S. energy independence (71 percent), support for achieving this important goal through a large increase in renewable energy sources garners the support of 77 percent of voters. Voters also know that significant investments in home grown clean energy sources means economic development for local communities and thousands of jobs for American workers.
All of these data points make the clear argument that American voters are well aware of the increasing impact of climate change on our energy systems and the urgent need to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future. We will continue to experience big spikes in energy costs as long as we are dependent upon oil as the availability of supplies are unreliable and oil company CEOs are focused on maximizing profits – this is where Congress has a clear responsibility and opportunity to act.
As has been said by others, meeting the existential threat of climate change is the biggest innovation opportunity of the 21st century. We have the tools, and it is up to us and our leaders to use them wisely and make the right choices, guided by science and the broad best interests of society.
Our New Hampshire congressional delegation is in full support of climate action and have made that clear with their votes and their voice. The choice is clear – now is the time for action from voters as Congress continues to work on the details of a proposal that includes the level of investment in clean energy, justice, and jobs that meet the moment for true climate action and sets us forth on a path of prosperity and possibilities. Senator Hassan, Congresswoman Kuster, and Congressman Pappas have all earned our active support and our votes this fall as they seek to continue to represent us in in Congress as climate action champions.
Rob Werner is New Hampshire state director of the League of Conservation Voters.