America fast approaching crossroads on fossil fuel use

Amy Doughty, Journal op-ed conttributor

We are in a crisis. Our reliance on oil is harming the health and security of people around the world. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is enabled by Russia’s oil and natural gas supplies.

At the same time, prices in America have risen at the pump and to heat our homes. Limiting oil and gas supplies is expected to drive up prices further, adding financial strain when people are struggling with inflation. There is high pressure on Congress to double down on fossil fuel investments, a move that would only increase our dependence on fossil fuels.

The American Petroleum Institute has renewed calls for American energy independence through increased domestic oil and gas production. But this is a false solution.

The U.S. is already a net exporter of energy, yet our energy prices are still affected by the actions of other major players like Russia and Saudi Arabia. The “solution” of additional fossil fuels would merely be a swap, addressing one major problem while exacerbating others: climate change and price volatility.

Instead, it’s time to rapidly move to power America with abundant clean energy. Our domestic energy prices would then be stable and affordable, freeing us from the volatility of fossil fuel prices. And of course, clean energy would not dump tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, continuing to destabilize our planet.

he clean energy transition would bring more geopolitical, economic, and climatic stability, keeping us safer and more secure. Spurred by Russia’s attack, the E.U. is already enacting effective, fast-acting policies in this direction. It’s time for the U.S. to do the same.

The budget reconciliation bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2021 includes tax credits and other legislation to bring in affordable clean energy. The Senate has the opportunity to pass its own version of this bill: to include all the climate provisions in the House bill and add an economy-wide price on carbon. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the Finance Committee to craft carbon pricing legislation last fall. Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said, “I’ve had a carbon pricing bill on my desk for the last three years just waiting for the time.” Republican Senator Mitt Romney — who, it’s worth noting, identified Russia as a threat in 2012 — said in January, “If you’re serious about climate, put a price on carbon.”

A well-designed price on carbon would speed the transition to cleaner energy options throughout the entire economy, from the biggest industries down to individual consumer choices. Second, revenue from carbon pricing can be allocated to Americans as a regular dividend or “carbon cashback,” protecting Americans from higher costs and inflation. Third, a border carbon adjustment can impose international pressure to break the grip of oil states like Russia. The E.U. is already planning to implement a tariff like this, and Republicans in Congress are expressing support for a similar idea.

In the most recent report issued from UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “The Numbers Behind the Science,” the scientists who wrote the report stated the following:

“To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. So far, progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks”


The report did not have the bold/italicized above; the emphasis here highlights where and how we need to “connect the dots.” Striking, as well: this report was announced 4 days after Russians invaded Ukraine.

Citizens Climate Lobby’s ‘Stand with Ukraine” campaign pushes for clean energy as a way to achieve real energy independence and reduce the power of autocrats and dictators like Putin. One of the most important things Americans can do right now is use our collective voices, commit to clean energy, and let our elected officials know we stand with Ukraine and we stand with clean energy.

Email President Biden, our senators, Stabenow and Peters and Representative Bergman at: Stand with Ukraine: support clean energy.

We need a renewed commitment. We can’t wait any longer for the transition from fossil fuels, and we have broad agreement on the policy to get us there. Our climate, our energy prices, and the stability of our world are at stake. We need to make smart choices, together.

Editor’s note: Madeline Para is the executive director of Citizens Climate Lobby. Amy Doughty is a volunteer with the local Marquette chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby and a resident of Marquette County.


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