Congress Has Been Having the Wrong Energy Conversation

Congress spent last week engaged in the wrong debate: "should we or should we not expand offshore drilling?" The right conversation to be having is: "Are we going to move America backward in time or forward to a clean energy future that unleashes new and efficient technologies and starts slashing global warming pollution?"

Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times that outrage is the proper response to last week’s debate. It is outrageous that in the face of the combined energy and economic crises, our representatives are fighting over a false solution that will not save consumers money at the pump but will worsen the urgent crisis of our time: global warming.

Extending oil addiction through offshore drilling is yesterday’s debate. How we structure comprehensive energy and climate legislation to revitalize the economy is the question of today.

Offshore drilling—a puny proposal that the government’s own studies say will have “an insignificant” effect on the cost of oil—doesn't even help the driving public now. Instead, Americans remain saddled with the same old problems: more pollution, more reliance on outdated fuels, and more delays in facing the reality of global warming.

The sooner Congress starts talking about how to create a cleaner energy future, the sooner Americans will get real, long-lasting solutions: millions of plug-in hybrid cars that run on almost no gasoline, electricity generated from solar and wind, biofuels grown through environmentally sustainable practices, and greater public transportation choices for more communities.  

Americans Say they Want Renewables More than Drilling

The recent Quinnipiac poll indicates that these solutions are what the American public wants. When asked which is the best way to help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, voters in four key swing states resoundingly chose clean energy over more oil drilling. In Wisconsin, 59 percent of voters chose renewable energy as the best solution, while only 6 percent selected drilling. In Michigan and Minnesota, it was 56 percent for renewables, and 18 for drilling, and in Colorado, 54 to 21 percent.  

New Solutions Not Old Debates

America wants solutions not debates. The solutions are out there, and yet pro oil industry members of Congress are blocking action on them. Members are now home for the recess. It behooves all of us to tell them that we want a new clean energy future, and that renewables are at the center of that. Other nations (Denmark, Germany, Spain) get as much as 20 percent of their power from renewables. We have a lot of sun and a lot of wind, we can too, but we need the policies that will unleash that potential. How we put those solutions in place—that’s the conversation we should be having. That is talk of the future, not the past.

About the Authors

Frances Beinecke

Former President

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