By Ramona du Houx July 3, 2022 The need to transition off of fossil fuels has never been more urgent. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world will suffer mass migrations and conflicts caused by scarcity of resources due to the climate crisis — if countries around the globe don’t accelerate their transition to use […]
The need to transition off of fossil fuels has never been more urgent. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world will suffer mass migrations and conflicts caused by scarcity of resources due to the climate crisis — if countries around the globe don’t accelerate their transition to use clean energy. Our lives, economy, and national security depend on us meeting the existential threat of the climate crisis. We must seek energy independence from fossil fuels.
At the press event, right before Independence Day holiday, Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) thanked President Biden for his leadership in using the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost clean energy manufacturing, encouraged Senate action on the climate provisions in the stalled Build Back Better Act, and administrative action on light and heavy-duty vehicles.
Above is the zoom recording of the press conference courtesy of EOPA
The United States produces more oil and refined products, natural gas and coal than we consume. Yet prices at the pump continue to skyrocket, showing exactly why we can never drill our way to true energy security. Fossil fuels are globally traded commodities, which leaves the U.S. economy dangerously exposed to the vagaries and volatility of energy prices. These threats to America’s economic national security will persist as long as our homes, businesses and industry remain dependent on fossil fuels. Only by reducing our use of oil and gas can we insulate America’s economy from fossil fuel price shocks and achieve true energy independence.
More investment than the president’s DPA authorization is needed in order to set the United States on a path to a 50-52 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2030—the goal scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The good news is that there is legislation before the Senate that would meet that goal. The bill, formally the Build Back Better Act, was passed by the House last November and would inject $555 billion into clean, renewable infrastructure and grow hundreds of thousands union jobs.
“EOPA is inspired by President Biden’s leadership in invoking DPA and hopes it will help this major legislation before the Senate to become law. Congressional climate action, and administrative action on light and heavy-duty vehicles are essential next steps. Clean, renewable energy is key to America’s security,” said Christian Brock, CEO of Elected Officials to Protect America, Air Force Veteran, CA. “The incentives in the Senate legislation are vital to bolster moderate to low-income consumers’ ability to afford and to purchase electric vehicles, as are the incentives for the car companies to ramp up production and reduce the sticker price. To reach a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, we must shift our capital investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy solutions. And the transportation sector is the number one contributor to these emissions in the United States. It’s time for the Senate to act with conviction for the health of our planet, people, democracy, and energy independence.”
The DPA has already been identified by EOPA as a necessary tool to accelerate our nation’s transition to clean energy in order to meet the clear and present danger of the existential threat of the climate crisis. The DPA is included in the EOPA letter, which over 565 lawmakers have signed, which supports a clean energy plan and asks for a Climate Emergency Declaration.
“The administration understands the imperative of combating the clear and present danger of climate change for our national security and that of the world. The overwhelming positive response to President Biden’s DPA announcement from the American people, energy industry, environmental advocates, corporate leaders, and stock market clearly signals that the future is in clean energy,” said Kevin Johnson, Army Veteran, White House Champion of Change, and Clean Energy Freedom Co-Founder. “It’s time for the Senate to declare our clean energy independence for the 4th of July by passing the Reconciliation bill’s climate provisions. They have the power to spur deflationary clean energy projects, improve health outcomes, create millions of jobs, and save US households $300 per year.”
The Senate clean energy legislation has been stalled because it would require all Democrats voting for it under the Reconciliation budget process, which ends September 30, Senators Manchin and Sinema have declined to vote for it.
According to a NASA study, health gains from climate mitigation policy like the climate provisions in the legislation before the Senate, would be worth trillions of dollars and would materialize fast enough to outweigh any costs of energy transition in a decade or less.
“Perhaps the single most urgently needed action in the battle to shift our economy off fossil fuels is federal legislation to encourage a shift to electric vehicles. The strategic expansion and development of the electric vehicle industry has the potential to create 150,000 new union jobs,” said Mike Turner, Supervisor Loudoun County, VA, Air Force Veteran, EOPA National Leadership Council.At the local level, counties and towns can implement great programs such as municipal aggregation, ordinances requiring new gas stations to offer at least as many high-speed charging stations as gas pumps, and green business zones offering tax incentives to companies using clean energy. But nationally, we just won’t hit our targets without major, federal legislation. Fortunately such a bill exists but still awaits Senate action. The American public shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”
While other energy sector jobs suffered in 2020, clean vehicle manufacturing jobs grew by almost three percent. These jobs are not isolated to certain localities; more than 1,200 facilities in 48 states make components and materials that contribute to the manufacturing of clean cars.
America excels in ramping up production of materials to combat a crisis. In 1940 the United States produced less than 5 percent of the world’s manufactured goods. By 1945 it was over 80 percent. Lend Lease became law to meet the needs of WWII as An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States.
“America will be truly energy independent only when we use home grown alternative, sustainable energy which isn’t subject to price spikes. It’s an issue of national security. It’s time to accelerate our clean energy economy with the bill before the Senate, and clean car rules. Modeling released last year by the research firm Energy Innovation found that cutting U.S. emissions in half by decade’s end — which scientists say is needed to avoid truly catastrophic warming — would grow the economy by $570 billion annually by 2030, and avoid 45,000 premature deaths through reduced air pollution,” said Debbie Sarinana, New Mexico State Representative Air Force Veteran, EOPA National Leadership Council Chair. “The only way to prevent tyrannical leaders from getting the financial resources they need to create conflicts is to reduce, and eventually eliminate, our dependency on fossil fuels. A global clean energy economy will increase international security with healthier, more prosperous countries.”
According to the EPA, the transportation sector is the number one contributor to climate change in the United States Not only does vehicle pollution accelerate climate change, it also contributes to health conditions caused by poor air quality, and poses major risks to public health and premature death, especially in low-income and communities of color located near heavily trafficked roads and highways and fossil fuel refineries. They also tend to be located in areas most susceptible to deadly heat waves, flooding, wildfires and other extreme weather events.
“While EOPA applauds the administration’s decision to set stronger clean car standards through 2026, we encourage President Biden to take the next step in implementing long-term standards to reach a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 2030,” said Dominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA). “Additionally, EOPA urges the Biden Administration to start the next round of rulemaking for Light Duty Vehicles and to put America on a clear path toward 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035. Clean energy independence will insulate us from the wild fluctuations of fossil fuel prices, grow our economy, and help other countries wean themselves off of fossil fuels.”
Autocratic petro-states have grown wealthy off of oil and gas profits—fueling the crisis.
This May, six Senators introduced a resolution saying that oil and gas companies have engaged in “profiteering” by using record profits to reward investors and shareholders, rather than to help lower prices at the pump. It urges a swift transition to a clean energy economy to bolster the national security of the United States and its allies.
“We need the Senate to pass the clean energy legislation now. Inflated energy prices coupled with an over-dependence on Russian fossil fuels threaten to derail global efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. Nations around the globe need to implement bold solutions to accelerate the climate crisis for the security of the world and their own energy independence. We can show the way,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state Representative, Marine combat veteran, President of the Elected Officials to Protect America and Co-Founder. “Ukraine underscores how dependency on fossil fuels fills the coffers of tyrants and dictators like Putin, and that a rapid transition to clean and renewable energy is not just necessary for our environment, but critical to our economic, national security and true energy independence.”
There’s a reason American military leaders have been taking climate seriously for years. The Pentagon first called global warming a “threat multiplier” in 2014, and openly says that climate change is a risk to national security. Direct threats from extreme weather will increase conflicts around the world as drought and floods impact critical water and food supplies, and vast mass migrations of refugees happen.
The European Union relies on Russian fossil fuels with annual oil exports fulfilling 40 percent of demand across the continent. Putin used these profits from oil and gas to wage his war knowing the EU wouldn’t put sanctions on their energy source during peak need.
“Fossil fuels represent a clear and present danger to nations that rely on them for energy. Putin’s fossil fuel stranglehold on the European Union brings this stark reality into perspective. The security of peaceful democratic nations relies, in large part, by curbing greenhouse gas emissions and their dependency on fossil fuels,” said Paul L. Evans, Oregon State Representative, EOPA Leadership Council Co-Chair, Air Force Veteran. “Leading experts agree a faster transition to clean energy would lead to more stable energy economies worldwide. The security of peaceful democratic nations relies, in large part, by curbing greenhouse gas emissions and their dependency on fossil fuels. That’s why the $555 billion clean energy legislation in the Senate and administrative action on light and heavy-duty vehicles are imperative for our national security and future. We cannot afford to ignore America’s persistent economic vulnerability — fossil fuels. It’s time to do whatever it takes to deliver true energy security for America’s economy, citizens and allies.”
The International Energy Agency recently published a report showing that despite the severe sanctions, Russia still earns roughly $20 billion every month in oil sales. According to the report, Russian oil exports actually increased in April, bringing in 50 percent more in revenue that month compared to last year due to soaring oil prices. Now Germany has announced they will put coal back on line, which would increase emissions. Clean, renewable energy is the answer.
While the fossil fuel industry still promotes itself as the affordable alternative to clean energy. Global supportive public policies have scaled up wind and solar power, driving down costs by 72 percent for wind and 90 percent for solar since 2009. These alternative energy technologies are now the cheapest and fastest growing sources of electricity available today.
Without a clean energy mandate, the market has failed to protect the world—
Fossil fuel companies have had bumper profits as the gas crisis continues to raise the price at which they can sell their products—without raising the cost of extraction. These industries not only get a free pass to emit heat-trapping gasses that exacerbate extreme weather and climate disasters, they continue to get tax-payer funds. In 2020 the coal, oil, and natural gas companies received $5.9 trillion in subsidies. Many are asking to end all oil and gas subsidies.
The American fossil fuel industry has a long, documented history of working extremely closely with Putin and state-run Russian oil companies. Now, the industry is trying to leverage the Ukraine crisis as an excuse to push for more drilling domestically while raising gas prices and protecting their profits. Increasing U.S. production would only deepen Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels and ours. Putin is not the first dictator to leverage power over dependent oil countries. If we don’t stop using fossil fuels, he most likely won’t be the last.
“The dual crises of rising energy prices along with a cascade of climate impacts, demand immediate action for the health and wellbeing of every American. Clean energy independence will insulate us from the wild fluctuations of fossil fuel prices, grow our economy, and help other countries wean themselves off of fossil fuels,” said Mayor Derrick R Wood,Mayor Town of Dumfries, VA, Marine Veteran. “We have the technical know-how — now we need the political will to ensure the security of our nation and the world through a clean energy economy. That’s why the Senate must finalize legislation now that will marshal the full might of America’s clean energy arsenal, reduce energy costs, secure our economy against a future energy crisis andconfront the critical threat of climate crisis.”
The threat multiplier—
The Department of Defense has been warning that climate change is a “threat multiplier’, meaning that when scarcity of a natural resource happens conflicts are more likely over the scarce commodity.
Some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Climate change is making that reality worse as droughts often exacerbate divisions and lead to conflict. In Afghanistan around 22.8 million people, 55 percent of the population, are experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. Severe drought has hit more than 80 percent of the country, crippling food production and forcing people from their land.
Ukraine and Russia are important food suppliers for low – and middle-income countries in which tens of millions of people are already food insecure, many in Africa. Combined, their exports were responsible for about 26 percent of global wheat in 2020. The Horn of Africa is in a prolonged drought and food and gas prices are out of the reach of millions. Over 2.2 children are at extreme risk for starvation.
As many as 25 African countries, including many of the least developed, import more than one-third of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and 15 of them more than half.
In March, Russia suspended exports of wheat, meslin, rye, barley and corn to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) until Aug 31. As of June, over 20 million tons of grain like corn and wheat are trapped in Ukraine because of Russia’s ongoing blockade of its ports. It’s a deepening crisis for Ukrainian farmers and a threat to global food security.
Russia is apparently using hunger as a weapon of war.
The climate danger at home —
As temperatures continue to climb, extreme weather events are more likely to overlap— testing the limits of the nation’s resilience and recovery while posing a national security threat.
When destructive fires, a devastating mega drought, and torrential floods overlap they are catastrophic to multiple communities simultaneously causing destruction. Scientists say these events are more frequent, and that the climate crisis is a key culprit. Emergency capacity is stretched when these events build on one another, either regionally or sequentially. Scientists call this increasing threat a “compound extreme.”
Roughly 44 percent of the American west has been categorized in extreme drought, according to the US drought monitor. Swaths of the west will go without hope of precipitation through the summer and into autumn which will increase the risk of wildfires.Last year, the US spent an alarming $145 billion on climate disasters – the third highest amount on record – and grappled with 20 extreme events that cost more than $1 billion each, close to triple the average since 1980.