Americans Need a Balance: Cleaner Environment, Affordable Energy

Americans Need a Balance: Cleaner Environment, Affordable Energy
Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

Very soon, many of us – all, I hope – will close the voting booth curtain and cast votes on how to best expand critical public services, trim household costs and increase our state and nation’s economies. To cast the right vote, we don’t have to look much further than our candidates’ proposed energy policies.

It’s what voters in various states with booming economies have done in recent years, and it’s working. The examples are endless.

New Mexico, for instance, has an economy that leads other states in job and wage gains since President Trump took office, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia data, as cited by Bloomberg. GoBankingRates, meanwhile, rated West Virginia first in economic growth, citing gross domestic product (GDP) growth, a decline in the unemployment rate and a moderate increase in personal income as the key factors.

And Pennsylvania, a state once decimated by record declines in steel and manufacturing, has seen energy prices decline and job growth balloon thanks to record production in its nearby Marcellus and Utica shales. Consumers there, in fact, saved $30.5 billion over a 10-year period, and the state’s energy sector create nearly 322,600 jobs, according to a recent Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) report.

Several factors contributed to these states’ turnaround, including improved regulatory policies and initiatives and billions of dollars in investment – none of which would have been possible without voters electing the right people with the most balanced strategies to how we best meet our energy solutions.

What’s more, recent polling shows most Americans – 99 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats – support policies that promote energy independence and reduce dependency on foreign resources. No other issue attracts such cross-aisle support.

Energy is a non-partisan issue. We all need heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, electricity to power our lights and charge our phones, and fuel to drive to work and school. We also drink the same water and breathe the air; thus, producing and transporting energy via the safest ways known remains an equally important priority.

They are facts all Americans agree with.

Yet too much of the debate continues to force a false choice between developing our energy and environmental protection. Thanks to improved technology and procedures, plus an array of regulations that’s second to none globally, the industry has helped America continue its role as a world leader in energy conservation. Case in point: The U.S. reduced its carbon emissions by 0.5 percent, the most of all major countries, in 2017, the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy says, all while the national economy grew by nearly 3 percent.

The sector has also helped reduced energy costs nationally and powered an economic revival that generated its best unemployment mark in decades, producing and exporting energy at never-before-seen levels.

To continue this success, it’s best to choose candidates who support an all-of-the-above energy policy that includes finding zones where the wind gusts the most and the sun shines the brightest, and areas where traditional, reliable sources like natural gas and oil are abundant – especially since America, according to pollster Frank Luntz, still imports about 40 percent of its oil needs, accounting for some 20 percent of its trade deficit. Other must-have sources including nuclear, coal and hydroelectric should be included.

CEA is doing its part. Its Energy Pledge initiative, which helps consumers identify elected officials and candidates who recognize that balancing environment safeguards and affordable energy policies for households and small businesses struggling to make ends meet or meet payroll, has attracted nearly 250 signers.

But more is needed. Inaction on balancing economics with environmental stewardship remains commonplace in town halls, municipal buildings and state capitals, and Washington, D.C. Too many in politics talk too much and do too little. The same, unfortunately, applies to voters. That may change next month if voters keep energy affordability firmly in mind.

David Holt is President of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA).

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