Becoming a member of Congress takes hard work and commitment and if achieved, is an undeniable symbol of achievement. Reflective of our vast, diverse country, members of Congress represent a wide array of perspectives and experiences from all walks of life.
Setting politics aside, there are so many stories of triumph and fortitude represented by the people who have sought out and procured such a position. When recently testifying before the U.S. Committee on Oversight and Accountability, one such story came to light. In an indirect response to prepared remarks that struck a chord, the Committee’s Ranking Member Cori Bush shared a bit from her past:
For me when I was a young single mom of two I became aware of the vast disparity in energy security. My electricity and heating bills were at times $1800 a month for just one of them which was double my rent. These high bills made my family struggle.
She went on to share that with high utility bills she had to “choose between paying off my electric bill or buying food for my babies.” Her story of being a strong mother persevering through difficult circumstances is a testament to the same characteristics that likely led her to be elected as a member of the House. While her personal story is heartfelt, her policy response to this situation is confusing.
In the same sentence that the Ranking Member expressed the realities of high-cost energy in her own life, she advocated for policies that will make those high costs go up for others. Advocating for a renewables-only future and stating “[w]e must never develop new fossil fuel infrastructure again” will make the current situation of expensive, unreliable energy much worse.
Referred to as “variable energy” among the technical crowd, seasonal assessments by energy experts have revealed that Americans can’t count on wind and solar energy being available when they actually need it. During this past summer, the agency charged with monitoring the integrity of our electrical grid warned two-thirds of Americans to prepare for rolling blackouts. During this winter, families in Buffalo, New York, were left out in the cold costing some of them their life. Those that were able to get energy this winter had to prepare for the increased costs. One assessment projected Americans to spend $14.1 billion more on home heating costs.
Running economies on sunshine, wind, and batteries may sound nice, but doesn’t really work. Further, it creates unnecessary hardship. Policy leaders pushing the green new deal, net zero, and ESG—all versions of canceling fossil fuels and setting up a renewables-only approach—are presenting the public with a false choice on the environment: one must accept diminished opportunities today or be responsible for a dead planet in the future.
We know how to build clean energy systems that provide the energy we need without sacrificing the environment. Importantly, we can do this while expanding opportunity for all Americans. The reality is that 80% of our energy needs are met by coal, oil, and natural gas and this will continue to be the case far into the future. We can make them even cleaner and more efficient by supporting technological innovation. We can avoid unnecessary power disruptions by accounting for energy reserves that can be stored at the same location as the power plants. We can also avoid unnecessary costs by setting environmental standards based on proven, not prospective, technologies with flexible timelines for compliance.
Many democrats, including Ranking Member Bush, are probably coming from a place of good intentions, but if they really want more single mothers and other vulnerable people to overcome their circumstances, they should advocate for policies that expand access to reliable affordable energy.
To learn more about tangible solutions to America’s ongoing energy problems, click here.