Let’s make a down payment on clean energy leadership
There’s more work to be done to ensure that the earth we leave behind to our children is better than the one we inherited.
Earth Day is an important occasion to remember the strong progress we have made to conserve our precious natural resources and protect our environment. But there’s more work to be done to ensure that the earth we leave behind to our children is better than the one we inherited.
So in addition to celebrating the progress thus far, I believe we should also think about where we need to be in the future, and what Congress needs to do.
By Earth Day 2014, Congress should make a down payment on making the United States the world leader in the new energy economy. How? By passing legislation to invest at least $150 billion directly into creating over 1.5 million clean energy jobs in the United States, and to cut our dependence on costly and dirty fossil fuels that are polluting our air, land and water.
By Earth Day 2014, Congress should pass a moratorium on building new coal power plants. Why? Because American consumers and businesses can save more money and employ more people by investing in clean renewable energy.
And by Earth Day 2014, the United States should commit to lead the world in combating the threat of global climate change by following science. How? By ratifying a treaty to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Dominating the 21st Century economy
Leading economists say the country that masters the development and export of clean renewable energy will dominate the 21st Century economy. After all, leading research estimates that renewable energy investments create 16.7 jobs for every $1 million in spending, while fossil fuel jobs create only 5.3 jobs per $1 million in spending. That’s why countries in Asia, Europe and South America are racing to transition away from dependency on costly and dirty fossil fuels.
We don’t have to lose this race – but we need more leaders in Congress who aren’t afraid to take on Big Oil and King Coal to fight for what our country needs.
America has ample land where wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other renewable energies can be produced affordably, and to create manufacturing and service jobs in the sector. New Mexico has already seen strong growth in these industries over the past decade.
To pay for this investment in our future, Congress should pass a tax on Wall Street speculation. According to prominent economists, a sales tax on Wall Street speculation of only 0.5 percent could raise up to $175 billion in revenue per year.
Raising revenue this way would be fair: After all, millions of Americans are out of work as a result of irresponsible speculation on Wall Street that led to the financial crisis and then the Great Recession. We have already bailed out Wall Street with billions of our tax dollars through TARP, and it’s time for Wall Street to step up to their responsibility to help people get back to work.
Congress must get it done. Our economy is recovering, but our carbon emissions are increasing along with it for the first time in two years. Scientists warn that pumping more carbon emissions into the atmosphere will only increase destructive weather patterns such as droughts and hurricanes and also harm our respiratory health. Clinging to fossil fuels is shortsighted, but investing in clean energy is a win-win for the environment, public health and jobs.
A clear choice
There is a clear choice for the environment in this race for Congress in New Mexico’s First District. I’m proud that my consistent record of championing clean energy, conservation and smart growth has earned me the endorsements by the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and Conservation Voters New Mexico.
In the State Senate, I sponsored legislation to direct state investments to these renewable industries. I also sponsored and passed a renewable energy jobs training bill to prepare workers to transition to these industries, and led a fierce effort to successfully defeat rollbacks of state-only carbon cap and participation in the Western Climate Initiative.
And on the Albuquerque City Council, I passed the Renewable Energy Incentive Program, which attracted clean energy jobs into the city.
In Congress, I will join other progressive Democrats to also fight to end Big Oil tax breaks permanently, getting rid of them alongside Bush tax cuts for millionaires. I will also support legislation to increase renewable energy and vehicle fuel efficiency standards. And I will fight the Republican and Big Oil Democrats’ effort to gut the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Finally, I will fight to protect our national parks and defend the Endangered Species Act from efforts to gut it by big developers and their allies in Congress.
Griego, a Democrat, is a candidate for the First Congressional District seat in the U.S. House.
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