While climate change cannot be identified as the cause for any one weather event, it is quite obvious that the natural world is changing – as the last few weeks have tragically shown. Storms are more intense and more storms are intense, droughts are drier and last longer, the oceans are acidifying and thus coral is dying, and the list of climate change caused tragedies goes on and on. Thus the wiser nations of the world have both domestic policies that push for reducing carbon emissions and are signatories to the Paris Climate Accord. We on the other hand have exited the Paris Climate Accord and have ever insufficient domestic policies that push for a reduction in carbon emission. H.R. 3671, known as the “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act” could change some of this.
H.R. 3671 succinctly states its goal as being, “to justly transition away from fossil fuel sources of energy to 100 percent clean energy by 2035”( https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3671/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HR3671%22%5D%7D&r=1). In short this bill, introduced by Tulsi Gabbard of HI, would require utility companies to obtain their energy from clean energy sources (think wind or solar), all cars would need to be zero emission by 2035 and trains would need to be electrified. This bill would end permitting, by the Federal government, of any new coal, oil or gas projects as of January 2018 and would terminate fossil fuel subsidies. In order to help retrofit from a fossil fuel based infrastructure to one based on renewable energy, the bill provides for funding and block grants to both industry and states. This bill also provides monies to help those employed in the oil/coal/gas industries to retain. Finally, this bill would extend tax credits for wind, both on and offshore wind production, and solar energy companies/ventures (Source: see link above).
As with so many issues, this administration is woefully out of step with what is needed, with what is right and with what the majority of the American people want. For example, two-thirds of Americans believe alternative energy should be invested in over fossil fuels but that appears to be the exact opposite of what the President’s administration is pursuing (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/23/two-thirds-of-americans-give-priority-to-developing-alternative-energy-over-fossil-fuels/). Mr. Trump has made many a statement proclaiming his love for coal, he has approved pipelines, which have already leaked, and currently there is discussion of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling for oil (https://www.yahoo.com/news/president-trump-loves-coal-much-192549634.html,https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/12/dakota-access-pipeline-leaking-big-spill, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/congress-moves-closer-to-allowing-oil-and-gas-drilling-in-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge/article/2636686; http://fortune.com/2017/09/15/donald-trump-big-oil-alaska-arctic-wildlife-refuge/). Mr. Zinke, our nation’s Interior Secretary, has stated that he believes America’s roof-tops, not America’s federal lands, should be our sole source of solar energy; and while solar on roof tops is a vital part of curbing our dependence on fossil fuels, there are not enough rooftops to meet our nation’s energy needs – rooftop solar is believed to capable of providing 40% of our nation’s energy needs (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2017/09/29/the-energy-202-zinke-suggests-solar-power-may-not-best-use-of-public-land/59cd6a0d30fb0468cea81c8a/?utm_term=.fade48f6d651, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rooftop-solar-power_us_57055586e4b05376618880fb). It should also be noted that America’s federal lands are currently used to extract coal as well as oil; in fact roughly 26% of the land the federal government owns can be leased to oil and gas companies (https://ballotpedia.org/Oil_and_natural_gas_extraction_on_federal_land).
And so once again, it is up to us to raise our voices and advocate for what we know to be in our best interest. The words of Ms. Gabbard say it best, “The transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy will not be easy. We must work together to address the challenges we face by listening to people in all sectors of the economy to build the path forward that will help our country end our dependence on fossil fuels and build a bridge to a clean energy future. It will take a commitment from both the public and private sector to work with energy companies, utilities, and transportation and industrial businesses to deploy the energy technologies that will transform our existing energy infrastructure today, while developing cutting edge solutions in the decades leading up to 2035. If the federal government does not act now and bring people together to solve this challenge, we will fail to protect future generations of Americans from the devastating economic and environmental consequences of climate change.
“We must do all we can to end our addiction to fossil fuels and deploy the technologies that will put America on the path toward a clean, sustainable energy future today and in the years to come. I call on my fellow lawmakers, and all Americans, to support the OFF Act to protect the people and our planet by committing to a 100 percent clean energy economy” (https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/rep-tulsi-gabbard-leads-act-end-america-s-reliance-fossil-fuels-and-transition-0).