10/03/2012 06:23 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

GOP: Oblivious to Oblivion

By dismissing President Obama's clean energy initiative as wasteful, wishful thinking, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are displaying obliviousness to potential oblivion. They have totally ignored an elemental objective of the Obama program -- slowing the pace of global warming. Romney and company don't' seem to have a clue about the urgent need for drastic reductions of fossil fuel-generated greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade if we are to avert an overheated planet.

Instead, they have focused on what they consider to be a major shortfall in the president's green jobs pledge as well as too little emphasis on harvesting fossil fuels. Green jobs are an important aspect of Obama's energy plan, but again, expansion of clean, renewable energy is not just about jobs. It is about an uninterrupted energy supply, national security, sustained economic prosperity, a healthy environment, and ultimately, survival. That is why Republican silence towards weaning us off a dependency on a heavily polluting fuel source is deafening.

As for the Republicans' charge that the clean energy program's job production is a major disappointment, the allegation bears some correction. While the pace is lagging in regard to Obama's goal of five million new green employment opportunities over 10 years, the Labor Department reports that more than three million jobs in that category already do exist in the nation. In addition, the field is experiencing job growth at a rate that exceeds that of the fossil fuel industry. Worldwide, some $257 billion has been invested in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and bio fuels. The technology has advanced beyond the embryonic stage.

That is not how Romney and his surrogates see it. They pay lip service to the attraction of renewable energy, but downplay its application as too undeveloped and hence, incapable of competing economically with the abundant supplies of oil, natural gas, and coal. It seems to have eluded them that renewables already provide 10 percent of the nation's electricity, and if granted the generous subsidies enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry, could do just fine in the good old USA. Indeed, a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory projects that renewable energy could supply up to 80 percent of the nation's electricity if a crash program were put into effect.

Buttressed by their health benefits, clean renewable energy sources become more competitive when external costs (e.g., pollution's adverse environmental effects) of fossil fuels are factored into the equation, a calculation currently not made. Instead, we have politicians like Romney carrying water for the fossil fuel industry by advocating a rollback of carbon pollution regulations on the phony grounds that the restrictions are stifling the economy.

Maybe Romney and his team should wise up and take their cue from a recent NRDC Action Fund poll of more than 22,000 undecided voters in eight election swing states. The survey found that an overwhelming majority think clean energy is not only desirable but doable.