In his State of the Union speech on January 25, 2011, the President of the U.S. has understandably and rightfully focused on the issue of jobs. But he is not listening to the right people. Not only do we need to snuff out the attitudes and actions on Wall Street and elsewhere that led to the economic crisis in the fall of 2009 but we need to be looking ahead instead of remaining mired in the past when it comes to energy.
President Obama has given every indication that he supports the continued use of fossil fuels in the U.S. He has surrounded himself with people in those polluting industries and recently touted the so-called benefits of natural gas. The federal government to this day maintains its subsidies of oil, gas, coal and nuclear with dollars from U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $72 billion between 2002-2008. As a country, the U.S. needs to move rapidly to a green economy. All subsidies to fossil fuel corporations must be repealed. Simultaneously, incentives for the manufacture, and installation of solar, solar thermal, small-scale wind, geothermal must be increased above their current levels, which are not nearly enough to address the multiple needs of job development, climate change and health security. The U.S. lags way behind China and Germany in conversion from a fossil economy to a renewable, sustainable economy, including houses well insulated and people engaging in more conservation when it comes to using fossil fueled energy. The U.S. needs to move rapidly towards doing whatever it can to prevent yet another solar panel manufacturing company moving to China, resulting in the loss of 800 jobs.
It is also very surprising, even to the editors of the New York Times, that in November of 2010 the President expressed enthusiasm about drilling for natural gas in the U.S. This enthusiasm flies in the face of the mountains of evidence that the entire multiple processes involved, from the mining of the frack sand to the frack fluid spills on farm land, to the dead cows, to the breakdown and jack- knifing of heavy trucks and machinery on rural hilly roads in WVA and PA, to the noise and deadly fumes from compressor stations, in hydrofracking for natural gas results in a dirty, toxic and health destroying enterprise, the only response to which must be a total and complete ban.
With much of the northeast U.S. in a continued deep freeze this January, we look to Mr. Obama to speak truth to power and turn his back on the lobbyists with their pleas on behalf of multi-million dollar fossil fuel corporations but instead heed the call of climate justice as well as the health and welfare of working people in the U.S. A rapid conversion to renewable sources of energy will result in a rapid increase in good paying jobs, a healthier economy, and improved health for all people in the country.
Cecile Lawrence, Ph.D., Green Party NY 2010 candidate for U.S. Senate