WHAT IS ENERGY REFORM, AND WHY YOU SHOULD GET INVOLVED WITH YOUNG CONSERVATIVES FOR ENERGY REFORM
The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most ardent advocates of the early 20th century, creating a strong foundation through legislation and action for today’s environmental movement. In an August 31, 1910 speech, he stated that “Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.”
In his 1970 “The Conscience of a Majority,” Senator Barry Goldwater stated that “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.” Continuing this conservative tradition, President Richard Nixon created the United States Environmental Protection Agency on December 2, 1970. In an October 3, 1988 statement to Congress, President Reagan observed that “The preservation of parks, wilderness, and wildlife has also aided liberty by keeping alive the 19th century sense of adventure and awe with which our forefathers greeted the American West.”
To be successful and sustainable, however, environmental stewardship must also co-exist with economic realities, job creation, and national security concerns. A long-range domestic energy security policy must insure a consistent, reliable and affordable supply of energy for domestic production and consumption. These guiding principles are at the heart of any successful attempt at energy reform, now and for future generations of Americans.
Former U.S. Senator John Warner (R-VA) once said that it is the responsibility of the public to drive our politicians to shape the market for a stronger energy security future. Young Conservatives for Energy Reform agrees, and is proud to continue this tradition of American conservative protection of our environment, now and for future generations. By fostering energy independence through political reform, America’s economic growth, national security and the health of our environment improve as well.
The goal of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform is to bring together young professional socially conservative leaders from across the country in a grass roots efforts to influence energy reform during this critical election year. We will be building and strengthening regional and state coalitions through targeted meetings, press releases, and local media outreach efforts. Our main focus will be upon ensuring national security and economy growth through home grown energy and “clean technology” jobs.
WHY IT IS CRITICAL FOR YOUNG CONSERVATIVES TO BECOME INVOLVED NOW WITH THE FIGHT FOR ENERGY REFORM
A. NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERNS
Dependence on foreign oil weakens the US strategically and militarily. It has been estimated that the United States imports almost 2.5 million barrels a day, from Middle Eastern nations, including Iran, which has long been on this country’s watch list of terrorist nations. This dependency on foreign control of such scarce critical natural resources could have devastating economic and political consequences for the United States.
As far back as 2006, a White Paper, sponsored by the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, entitled “National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency” (Independent Task Force Report, No. 58), was already issuing a dire warning that the lack of sustained attention to energy issues was undercutting U.S. foreign policy and national security. It also found that those issues at stake intimately affected U.S. foreign policy, as well as the strength of the American economy and the state of the global environment.
Quite simply, the critical challenge facing the United States over the next several decades is to manage the consequences of unavoidable dependence on oil and gas that is traded in world markets, with all the accompanying geopolitical and technological uncertainties, and to begin the transition to an economy that relies less on petroleum and more on renewable and cleaner fuel technologies that can be produced domestically.
More recently, Vice Admiral Lee Gunn is President of the American Security Project, a national security think tank in Washington, DC, as well as President of the Institute for Public Research at CNA in Alexandria, VA, a non-profit that dedicates much of its resources to studying the effects of domestic energy use on national security. He believes that the very real national security and economic consequences of this country’s oil dependence. Admiral John B. Nathman, who also serves on the Military Advisory Board of CNA, believes that the tactical vulnerability of transporting oil, as the United States continues to annual import nearly $400 billion of oil every year from countries that are unfriendly to American interests. “Every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the Department of Defense $1.3 billion.” If Iran were to block the Straits of Hermuz and Middle East Oil Exports, where 16 million barrels of oil flow out daily — about a fifth of the world’s daily oil trade – international commerce would quickly be brought to a standstill.
Even in the absence of a disruption in oil supply from the Middle East, skyrocketing gas prices, predicted to top $5/gallon by this summer, are threating our nation’s fragile economic recovery and job growth, with surging fuel costs affecting everything from airline tickets to grocery bills. Even the very liberal Los Angeles Times newspaper, in a February 20th article, “Surging Gas Prices Threaten to Derail Economic Recovery,” admitted that “many consumers remain on edge, burdened by heavy debts and very cautious about spending. With high unemployment…analysts say the U.S. recovery remains highly vulnerable to external shocks, perhaps none more so than a surge in gas prices.”
We believe in conservative stewardship for our country’s future generations, and have organized several upcoming regional conferences where young professionals can learn how they can get involved right now and make a difference.
HOME GROWN ENERGY IS OUR GREATEST RESOURCE, AND BEST OPPORTUNITY FOR A SECURE AND PROSPEROUS FUTURE
Although there is some intersection between environmental pollution and energy independence, they are primarily different issues. Energy independence encompasses resource sustainability and economic growth, as well as reducing our dependence on foreign oil fossil fuel and hostile governments. The development of carbon neutral energy technologies such as wind are self-sustaining, in limitless supply, and will reduce and replace our need for environmentally polluting fossil fuels. In addition to wind, other renewable resources and “clean technologies” representing the next generation of energy power include hydroelectric, geothermal, nuclear, solar and biomass production (organic matter in trees, agricultural crops and other living plant material). Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP), such as though solar dishes and panels as storage units, while wind power converts wind into consumable forms through the use windmills for mechanical power and wind turbines to make electricity.
While the vast majority of oil used in the United States has been for transportation and factory production needs, this dependency has been based upon low costs, easy and stable access, transportation and storage, a situation which, unfortunately, is no longer the case today. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Energy Industry Association found that since the end of World War II, U.S. consumption and net imports of oil have increased almost exponentially, while domestic production has precipitously declined, increasing our vulnerability to the whims of OPEC and Middle East oil producing countries.
In the past decade, “clean technologies” such as nuclear electric power, biomass, hydroelectric, and geothermal/solar/wind technologies have collectively accounted for less than 20% of U.S. energy consumption. In the past few years, however, private sector entrepreneurial start-up companies, venture capital funds, as well as large energy and chemical companies have begun investing in large numbers in state of the art solar, wind, and hydroelectric power plants. Although the full potential of these new technologies will take some time to commercially and profitably develop and mass produce, these new fuel clean technology sources represent this country’s best chance for decreasing dependency on hostile foreign oil exporters and strengthening our economic infrastructure, and as such, must be further developed and utilized.
Clean and sustainable technology jobs are also among the fast job growth in the domestic sector. F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, a nonprofit focused on building the green economy, found significant expansion of California’s green economy in a report released in December 2009. “The data shows that clean-sector businesses are taking root across every region of California, generating jobs across a wide spectrum of skill levels and earnings potential.”
Government agencies can nurture clean job growth by being early customers for clean technology products. Gary Simon, co-chair of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance’s CleanTech program, explains that “If one pays attention to buying the cleaner, greener products over the standard, that’s what we’re trying to show is available. Really you’re not paying that much more to be clean, green and sustainable. And if you look at the economics over time, it’s actually cheaper to be green and sustainable.”
Entrepreneur and businessman Ben Fischer, an executive with Signal Wind Energy, pointed out the urgency of the government’s encouraging alternative energy generation, through tax incentives and subsidies for U.S. companies in order to maintain American technological worldwide leadership. While Spain, France, Germany and Australia have long provided subsidies for solar and green tech projects, in comparison the United States has only recently implemented tax credits to encourage private sector development and implementation of “clean technology.” Our grass root political activism will attempt to address these issues and produce more rational long-term results.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED RIGHT NOW