by Bruce Birchard
I’ve been working in Pennsylvania to convince legislators to support Governor Wolf’s effort to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as legislation that would reduce carbon and methane emissions and advance green energy. It’s a tough sell with many of the majority Republicans. But emphasizing the economic and financial consequences of burying our collective heads in the sand and opposing the green energy revolution is a message that some clean energy opponents can hear.
The fact is, despite the efforts of the Trump administration to boost the future of fossil fuels and to block clean energy initiatives, our country has reached a real turning point. So many things have changed during the past four years. Just for example:
- Trump’s last-minute decision to auction off oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on January 6 was a stunning failure. A year ago, the U.S. Department of the Interior forecast sales of $1.8 billion. But no major oil company made a bid, and actual revenues from the sale were $14.4 million.
- Last summer, BP announced that it would halt oil and gas exploration in new countries, slash oil and gas production by 40%, and increase spending on low-carbon energy by 1,000%, to $5 billion
- The U.S. Federal Reserve recently applied for membership in the Network for Greening the Financial System, a group of international central banks studying the financial risks of climate change. These include “physical risks,” such as wildfires, hurricanes, droughts and rising sea levels, as well as “transition risks,” as the economy pivots to greener industries.
Climate-change activists, often with leadership from Indigenous people, have hobbled fossil fuel industries through pipeline protests, lawsuits, lobbying regulators to refuse permits for controversial projects, and pressuring banks, pension plans and private investors to avoid fossil fuel investments.
At the same time, there have been huge technological advances in both solar and wind energy. Over the past decade, the efficiency of solar panels has increased nearly three-fold, and the cost of installing solar systems has gone down by almost 90%. Huge new wind turbines—designed for the rapidly expanding offshore wind industry—will generate 30 times more electricity than the first offshore machines installed by Denmark in 1991. Electric vehicles (EEVs) are clearly the wave of the future. Looking at lifetime costs, it is now cheaper to buy and operate an EV than a conventional gas powered vehicle.
The Biden-Harris administration is committed to rapid reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), consistent with the science. The Administration has set a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. This will require expanding the solar and wind industries, supporting electric vehicles, and much more. All of this makes particular sense because of the enormous number of jobs that will be created in these growing industries, thus helping our country recover from the pandemic-induced economic disaster.
Here is a suggested sample RGGI support letter.