Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund.
House Republicans just released “A Pledge to America,” its agenda for the 112th Congress if they take charge. The Republicans claim that their document — written by former Exxon lobbyist Brian Wild — is “one in which the people have the most say and the best ideas trump the most entrenched interests.” When it comes to energy policy, the GOP leaders actually ignore public opinion, ignore science, and instead promote the same old ideas flogged by big oil lobbyists and other energy interests. The entire Republican energy policy is a single sentence:
We will fight to increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national “cap and trade” energy tax.
“Increase access to domestic energy sources” is code for “drill, baby, drill.” This language is straight out of big oil’s playbook, used for years by the oil industry’s lobbying groups:
[I]ncreasing access to domestic energy is critical to our nation’s security, economic growth, and quality of life. — American Petroleum Institute, 2010
It’s time for the president to let the market access dependable, affordable and abundant domestic energy. — Tim Phillips, President of the Americans for Prosperity, 2009
This multifaceted bill includes the building blocks of sound energy policy—efficiency, conservation, diversity, and expanded access to domestic energy supplies. — Jack Gerard, American Chemistry Council, 2008
Increasing access to domestic resources will mean more jobs, more revenues to help cash-strapped local, state and federal governments and greater energy security.– American Petroleum Institute, 2009
The President again urges Congress to pass legislation that opens access to domestic energy sources such as the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. — President George W. Bush, 2007
We need to increase access to domestic energy sources. — John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, 2007
Congress need[s] to increase access to domestic energy sources… [to] significantly increase domestic oil and natural gas production. — Competitive Enterprise Institute, 2006
The GOP support for more offshore oil drilling after the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster exposed its deadly risks contradicts, rather than reflects, public opinion. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of Americans opposes more offshore oil drilling.
The second measure in the Pledge’s skimpy energy policy is to “oppose attempts to impose a national “cap and trade” energy tax” — Newt Gingrich’s language for a system to reduce global warming pollution from the largest power plants and other industrial sources. Here again the GOP leaders flout, rather than adhere to, public opinion. A myriad of opinion polls demonstrate strong support for global warming pollution reductions:
— An NBC/Wall St. Journal poll conducted in late June found that Americans support global warming pollution reduction requirements by two to one, “even if it means an increase in the cost of energy.”
— A Yale/George Mason University June poll found that 77 percent of Americans support “regulating carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas) as a pollutant,” including nearly two-thirds of Republicans.
— A June 2010 Benenson Strategy Group poll found that nearly two thirds of voters favored greenhouse gas pollution reductions even when given the argument that a cap and trade system was a “job-killing energy tax.” Only one quarter opposed it.
Another part of the GOP pledge — really just an extended attack on President Obama’s plan to restore the American economy — also rejects public opinion to score political points with oil, coal and other dirty fuel sources by halting clean energy investments made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
Congress should move immediately to cancel unspent “stimulus” funds, and block any attempts to extend the timeline for spending “stimulus” funds.
Many of these Recovery Act funds are in the form of tax incentives to small- and medium-sized companies to build wind farms and solar energy systems, and to assist manufacturing firms that build clean energy equipment. An American Wind Energy Association analysis found that in 2009, the “U.S. wind industry broke all previous records by installing close to 10,000 megawatts of new generating capacity in 2009 thanks to Recovery Act incentives.” These popular and effective Recovery Act incentives “spurred the growth of construction, operations and management jobs,” helping the clean-energy industry “shine as a bright spot in the economy.”
Not surprisingly, the public overwhelmingly favors these clean-energy investments the Republicans want to kill. Eighty-four percent of Americans support “tax breaks to produce more electricity from water, wind, and solar power,” according to a recent Stanford University poll.
Rather than listening to the American people, the pledge listens to polluter lobbyists. The GOP leaders want to expand offshore oil drilling rather than reduce greenhouse gas pollution. They want to abandon clean energy jobs when they are most needed. The pledge is nothing more than an oath of allegiance to big oil, dirty coal, and other special interests. Fulfillment of the pledge would leave the United States with fewer jobs and more pollution.