John Kerry says the energy bill he is co-sponsoring will create jobs and spark energy independence, with climate benefits "along for the ride." Senator, you had us at jobs and independence.
Here's hoping the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman team take a lesson from the Gipper. Ronald Reagan would have sold this policy on smart economics and smarter geopolitics. He would have acknowledged real global threats, called on genuine American patriotism, projected a robust economic future, and gotten the job done. The Great Communicator would have maintained message discipline.
Recent polls show that belief in climate change is down and dropping. As a key marker in today's identity politics, that should surprise no one. But consider this from a highly successful Kansas commodity farmer and ethanol producer:
"I don't believe in climate change, but that doesn't mean I'm not worried about it. I actually worry about it a lot. I'm suspicious about models, sure. They're usually wrong because we can't know enough. But I know full well they could be wrong on the scary side just as easily as they could be wrong on the sunny side. I don't want to mortgage my grandkids because those models could be wrong, but I'm sure willing to take every cost effective measure because those models might be right."
Don't lead with climate, but don't hesitate to mention the bonus that smart energy choices manage climate risk, too.
Transformative energy policy is a must, and it enjoys broad support here in the heartland. The reasons are obvious:
• Fossil fuels won't last forever (they're fossils; they're finite). In a global market, prices will get high and volatile. Renewable fuels (wind, sun, biomass, geothermal) do last forever, they are local, and their fuel cost is zero.
• Invest in renewable energy now -- get it in the ground while commodity prices are low, build a domestic manufacturing industry - and the U.S. is competitive and prosperous.
• The United States of America should not be funding both sides of the War on Terror. Hundreds of billions to fund our military and hundreds of billions to fund their terrorism should not both be coming out of our pockets. Enough.
• Over half of the energy we pay to generate is just flat wasted -- it doesn't get to our plugs or is sucked by badly designed equipment. Make generation, distribution, and end-use appliances get (a lot) smarter and all of us can save money while our economy gets more efficient and productive.
It is time for a long, loud "All Aboard!" I will not altogether like the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman concoction, to understate the matter. But I am grateful that some in Washington are still willing to do the hard work to craft and introduce a bill with potential for genuine industry and bipartisan support.
We can provide a clear, strong market signal that spurs a race to innovate and thrive. We can provide energy savings that are ripe for the picking. We can provide certainty for utilities making 50-year investments. We can and we must ensure that the United States of America has the energy it needs at a cost it can afford, not just for the next few decades, but for generations to come.