After a long, partisan fight around the health care reform bill, the bipartisan movement toward comprehensive energy and climate legislation is refreshing.
There is much both parties can agree on in the energy and environmental arena: dramatically reducing our dependence on foreign oil, enabling American business and American workers to capture the manufacturing and export opportunities emerging from American clean tech innovation, ensuring a healthy environment for our kids and creating new American jobs in high-value, high-growth industries.
China sees the opportunity. It has allocated an enormous portion of its own massive 2009 economic stimulus to new energy infrastructure, now spending $12 million per hour on clean energy initiatives. Abu Dhabi sees the opportunity, too. Though it sits next to the vast petroleum and natural gas resources of the Persian Gulf, Abu Dhabi has embarked on a crash course to build a series of nuclear power plants to reduce both its dependence on fossil fuels and its greenhouse gas emissions. These countries and many others, as a matter of public policy, are embracing a low-carbon, less fossil-fuel-dependent future.
The path to a vibrant new Made in America, low-carbon energy economy is clear: clean affordable base load nuclear, supported by bountiful but intermittent wind and solar power, backed by quick-start natural gas plants, all of it linked to a new transportation infrastructure that is electrified for plug-in passenger vehicles and is gasified for heavy duty trucks, by smart meters and a strengthened grid. American fuels. American resources. American jobs fueled by American innovation.
Critics tag proposals to capture these exciting new energy opportunities as cap-and-tax schemes that will grievously injure U.S. business and destroy American jobs. In this regard, critics say they have the support of American business. On both counts, they are wrong. American business wants to compete against the rest of the world for the enormous opportunity of the new energy economy and to do so on the strength not only of American innovation and entrepreneurship, but also on the foundation of a robust American market for low-carbon technologies and services.
We know that it will take both bodies of Congress to pass the legislation needed to make possible this dynamic, clean and affordable energy future. Fortunately, over the past few months I have met with administration officials and Senators from both sides of the aisle and have been included in discussions around a new suite of ideas that are starting to be rolled out. Ideas under active bipartisan consideration in the Senate will address legitimate concerns about an economy-wide cap-and-trade approach, while nonetheless taking the essential step of setting a price on carbon pollution, thus enabling the low-carbon domestic energy market. It deserves the serious, urgent and open-minded consideration of every public policymaker.
For the cap-and-trade critics on Capitol Hill who are unwilling to take a serious look at these new ideas, tell us: What is your alternative? For the global environment, for national energy security, for the American worker, for an American businessman like me, nap-and-pray is not an option.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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