Clean Energy for Arkansas

This week, our elected officials in Washington were set to get to work on establishing a comprehensive national framework to address climate change and America’s energy challenges. Unfortunately, despite a strong bipartisan effort, it now appears that legislation aimed at addressing these issues faces the potential of being postponed. It is essential that these efforts move forward without further delay.

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) have been working to craft a bipartisan bill that puts a price on carbon and aims to at reduce emissions, develop innovative “green” energy solutions and stimulate the creation of American jobs. Our nation is at a pivotal crossroads and we can either move forward with sustainable and forward-looking energy policies or risk missing the opportunity to address a critical national priority.

Climate change legislation has gained the support of a broad range of groups and interests including businesses, environmental groups, military leaders and major energy utilities. These groups help form a broad consensus that comprehensive clean energy legislation is critical to our environment, economy and national security. We cannot delay addressing these concerns or continue to put America’s future on hold.

Every day that we delay addressing our energy challenges, other countries are moving forward. Last year China became the largest investor in renewable energy, while clean energy investments dropped 42 percent in the United States. In order to promote investment, we need to establish a comprehensive national framework that will spur job creation and economic opportunity in the emerging clean energy sector for years to come.

A recent study led by economists at the University of California, Berkeley estimates that legislation could create as many as 25,000 jobs in Arkansas by 2020 and 1.9 million nationwide. Though our economy is showing slow signs of recovery, America’s unemployment rate continues to hover just under 10 percent. With so many Americans struggling to find work and businesses struggling to make ends meet under the weight of these tough economic times, it is critical that we look for opportunities to give our economy a significant boost.

Comprehensive climate change legislation that puts a price on carbon has the potential to unleash the next wave of American innovation and push our nation forward as a global leader in the emerging clean energy economy. Though our energy challenges are complex and significant, they also provide America with a unique opportunity: by meeting these challenges we can usher in the next great driver for job creation, global innovation and economic prosperity.

There are also important national security implications in addressing climate change, as we currently import 60 percent of our oil from foreign countries. America’s dependence on foreign oil is not only expensive and economically unsustainable, it also puts us in the precarious position of depending upon volatile nations in the Middle East.

Rynne Roark