|We're Paying for Our Oil Dependence by Rep. Carson|
For the past few decades, the debate over our dependence on fossil fuels has centered largely on serious but long-term consequences. Environmental advocates frequently tout extensive scientific research on increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, showing signs of rising sea levels and projections of our ice caps completely melting by 2040.
Of course, there are critics who strongly disagree with the evidence of climate change. Regardless of where people fall along this ideological spectrum, it is hard to dispute that the growing disaster off the Gulf Coast has significantly shifted the debate over our nation's energy policy.
No longer is the focus solely on future projections or abstract scientific models. The consequences of our addiction to oil are immediate. They're real, and they're on full display with the devastation being wrought by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
And while it turns our stomachs to see oil-soaked wildlife on our beaches, the devastation is not only environmental, it's economic. Career fishermen are facing the possibility of their livelihoods being wiped out, and the tourism industry along the Gulf Coast has been decimated.
Now there are still cynics who continue to argue that spills like the Deepwater Horizon are rare. A ranking member of the House energy committee actually apologized to BP officials during hearings for the way our government has treated the company (even after BP and other oil executives testified that their companies knew that they lacked the technology and know-how to address a serious spill should oil spew from a deepwater well).
We cannot afford to leave our energy future in the hands of Big Oil any more than we can allow our nation to be held hostage by rogue dictators sitting on large oil reserves.
This ongoing disaster in the Gulf should be our call to action. It is time to finally enact comprehensive clean energy legislation that will end our dangerous addiction to oil, develop alternative energy sources and kick-start a green economy that will drive job growth and investment.
According to experts, Indiana stands to be one of the top job creators in a new green economy focused on manufacturing renewable energy components.
To see signs of our potential, just look to the fields of wind turbines along I-65 or the ethanol and biodiesel plants cropping up around the state. In Indianapolis, nearly $200 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was awarded to two innovative companies to bolster hybrid engine production, create the next generation of battery technology and develop components for wind turbines.
Already, Hoosiers are laying the groundwork for a green economy, working on everything from algae- and yeast-based biofuels to photovoltaic roofing materials. While these innovations will not singlehandedly replace our demand for oil, they provide a preview for what the future could hold.
But to capture this potential and turn it into a sustainable path to greater economic opportunity, we must have leadership from Washington. Last year I joined my colleagues in the House to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act only to see it held up in the Senate because of political posturing. If we hope to save ourselves from future economic and environmental disasters at the hands of Big Oil, we need to band together, show bold leadership and pass comprehensive energy legislation before the end of the 111th Congress.
Moving forward begins with recognizing that the debate on climate change has fundamentally changed. We are no longer dealing with abstract projections or futuristic computer models. The devastation created by our dependence on oil is wreaking havoc right now. Inaction is no longer an option.
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