Last week, I asked readers to “Name the BP oil disaster and write Obama’s ‘pivot’ speech to the climate and clean energy jobs bill.” A few people actually wrote entire speeches. Here is one by guest blogger Stewart J. Hudson, President of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, suggests Obama deliver a speech centering on the next holiday weekend, July 4:
America is at a crossroads.
Do we continue our dependence on foreign sources of oil — Or do we stop funding regimes that are trying to harm America and the democratic values we hold dear?
Do we cling to the status quo, to the way things are — Or do we build a new American economy built on American jobs and homegrown solutions to our energy challenges?
Do we stay rooted in a partisan political stalemate — Or do we put national interests first and do what’s best for America?
You and I both know that the answer to these questions is that we must stop buying oil from regimes that want to undermine our democracy; we must begin now to build a clean energy economy; and we must put national interests first.
Almost 100 years ago a Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, also faced a series of crises that related to American security and natural resources. At a summit of the nation’s governors he urged action based on his belief that the requirements of all those in national office were to be, “fearless, just, and efficient.”
Those words still ring true for those of us who are today privileged to serve the American people. They are words that our soldiers live by every day. They are words we associate with all those involved in providing for Homeland Security. They are the watchwords of all Americans, Republican and Democrat alike, and those who may have no party affiliation but care enough about our future to do something about energy independence now rather than leave this task to future generations.
So to honor you, and the words that Theodore Roosevelt held dear, I have today invited Congressional leaders, from both sides of the aisle, and our nation’s Governors to attend a summit in Washington the week of July 4th. Our goal for this two-day summit is clear””to unify us around a new approach to energy that can be discussed, acted on, and prepared for my signature prior to the November 2010 mid-term elections.
Rather than starting with a blank slate, we will make use of the various resources at hand. Three Senate leaders who have been fearless, just, and efficient are Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham. They have worked together on energy legislation that represents a balance between regional interests and that would help fashion a new energy economy in the United States. This is a resource we can use to make this summit a success.
We will also include in the discussion the climate and energy legislation adopted in the House of Representatives in 2009. This initiative can also contribute to the goals of the summit being realized.
And we will include great ideas that have been developed outside of Washington, D.C. by Governors in states both Red and Blue. We will also invite a panel of Mayors to better understand successful clean energy initiatives in America’s cities and towns””and highlight examples from all over America, there the business of building a new energy economy is already underway.
It’s true that we won’t be writing legislation this July 4th–but we will be discussing the architecture necessary for federal legislation to be finalized.
It’s true that we cannot involve everyone who has an opinion–but we will ensure that a range of perspectives is presented, discussed, and debated.
And we will be transparent. Before the summit Americans will have the opportunity to pose questions, and to register their opinions on these issues. We will provide a summary of these thoughts to all participants at the summit. And of course the summit will be televised “¦ and streamed live on the Internet.
Now there are many reasons folks tell me we should delay doing something about energy independence and national security. They tell me that Congress can’t deal with any tough votes before November. They tell me that the tragedy of the BP Horizon spill means we can’t pursue safe approaches to offshore drilling in American waters. Some even suggest that government should sit this one out””that we should just trust the oil companies and the markets to direct U.S. energy policy.
But this July 4th we’re not going to listen to the voices of business as usual, to those arguing for delay or inaction. Will we be successful in this effort? I honestly don’t know. Yet we will never know until we try.
Fearless. Just. Efficient. With these words to inspire us, I become more confident that we can succeed.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate America’s Independence and the 4th of July.
– Stewart Hudson is president of the Tremaine Foundation.
- Is Obama blowing his best chance to shift the debate from the dirty, unsafe energy of the 19th century to the clean, safe energy of the 21st century?
- Friedman: “The only meaningful response to this man-made disaster is a man-made energy bill that would finally put in place an American clean-energy infrastructure that would set our country on a real, long-term path to ending our addiction to oil.”