By: Catherine Chambers
It’s no secret that today, uncertainty is running high, global challenges are ever-present, and our country stands divided. Amidst what can often feel like chaos, many of us struggle to take a position on energy, where it should come from, and what we should do with it. Natural gas? Emits CO2. Nuclear? Heavy lead time and high public skepticism. Solar? Still needs mined materials for arrays, batteries, and other parts. While each form of energy comes with its own risks and regulations (which should all be considered), each form also comes with unique benefits for consumers and the environment.
America is considered an international superpower, due to our massive size and coastline, vast development potential, highly-educated population, and countless other factors. However, we stand at a crossroads on the path to continue as the reigning energy leader. America’s energy security remains compromised for reasons we hear far too often, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, volatile oil prices, unpredictable weather patterns, reliance on foreign mining for critical materials, and more.
Cut through the noise of the partisan politics in Washington DC, and we’re met with the opportunity to harness America’s energy potential without eliminating any individual sectors. From the rich oil fields of Alaska, the leading hydroelectric efforts in Washington, massive solar arrays in California, and on and offshore wind across the nation. In short, opportunity abounds. We can successfully broaden our energy policies to accommodate an “All of the Above” energy approach. Without getting swept away in the nuances of this topic, here are some reasons why I know it can work for all of us:
1. Restriction of one or more energy options, namely oil & gas, will only increase the country’s reliance on foreign sources, not reduce consumption. In the words of Samantha Gross, “any ‘solution’ that reduces U.S. emissions, but increases global emissions, is no solution at all.”(Gross, 2020) However, it’s imperative that we continue to enact policies and search for sustainable solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through integrating lower carbon solutions. Shoutout to Chevron for marrying together solar technologies with processing facilities.
2. Investing in clean energy technologies is now crucial for the U.S. to maintain its energy independence and keep up with global trends. Historically, many clean-tech companies haven’t thrived in America, taking their operations to Europe, and China has also consistently outpaced us. The Inflation Reduction Act has helped foster a welcoming environment for climate tech through tax credits, incentives, and overall positive policy shifts in favor of emerging renewable sources. We continue to see growth and new jobs for Americans in these sectors since the passage of the act. Jobs = Good for the Economy. (Now, let’s make sure we are training people to fill these positions.)
3. Including all forms of energy in energy policy would simply ensure we have enough of it to go around. According to Pew Research, “A relatively small share of Americans (31%) believe the U.S. should phase out the use of oil, coal and natural gas completely; far more (67%) say the country should use a mix of fossil fuel and renewable energy sources (Tyson, Funk, Kennedy, 2022).” While nearly ¾ of Americans concur that the U.S. should take steps to become carbon neutral by 2050, it remains a top priority that the country remains able to power itself and have ample resources should we need them.
While there is no “quick fix” for solving the issue of climate change while maintaining responsible resource extraction efforts, I look forward to monitoring and promoting new policies that can benefit both.
Is an all of the above approach the right approach?
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