General James L. Jones, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), whom President-elect Barack Obama today selected to be his national security adviser, currently runs a U.S. Chamber of Commerce energy policy front group. Jones is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy, whose stated mission is “to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean.” However, following the recommendations of Jones’ institute would be catastrophic for the security, prosperity, and health of the United States.
The Institute for 21st Century Energy’s vision of America’s energy future is blind to the realities of climate change, inexcusable for an organization founded in June 2007. All of its recommendations are based on the presumption that “global demand for energy will increase by more than 50 percent between now and 2030 and by as much as 30 percent here at home,” based on the business-as-usual scenario from International Energy Agency’s 2007 World Energy Outlook report. But this scenario of rampant energy demand is also one of catastrophic global warming pollution. The IEA report also indicated that energy-related carbon emissions would “increase by almost 60%” by 2030, leading to global disaster.
The institute deserves credit for having its first strategic priority be energy efficiency, but its other priorities and specific policy suggestions are wrongheaded and reflect the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s typical anti-regulatory, pro-pollution industry agenda. Jones’ Transition Plan calls for billions of dollars in subsidies for the nuclear and coal industry, a dramatic expansion in domestic oil and natural gas drilling into protected areas, and massive new energy industry tax breaks and loopholes.
Meanwhile, the plan argues that Congress should prevent regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under any existing state or federal law, and that “any new national climate change policy should be conditional on an international agreement that requires full international participation.” In short, the Institute’s climate change policy looks stunningly like that of the Bush administration: “Don’t just sit there, do nothing.”
Not only are these recommendations foolhardy to the extreme, they come in direct opposition to Obama’s stated policy objectives, which include a mandatory cap-and-trade program, development of renewable energy through quality jobs, and the enforcement of existing environmental laws. If America’s future is to be secure, the next national security adviser must understand that the policies he has spent the last eighteen months promoting are reckless. Hopefully, he will renounce the efforts of his current employer to push this nation deeper into the fossil-energy hole.
Fortunately for Jones, other former senior military officers have taken the task of constructing a rational 21st century energy policy seriously. On April 16, 2007, the military advisory board to the CNA Corporation, a non-profit think tank, released the study, “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.” The panel, including former Army chief of staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan and retired Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni, former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, properly encapsulated the security challenge of global warming:
Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, and it presents signiﬁcant national security challenges for the United States. Accordingly, it is appropriate to start now to help mitigate the severity of some of these emergent challenges. The decision to act should be made soon in order to plan prudently for the nation’s security. The increasing risks from climate change should be addressed now because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay.