IN RESPONSE | Missing from our energy portfolio: political willpower

Author: Colorado Politics - September 19, 2018 - Updated: September 19, 2018

(iStock image / batuhan toker)

While we agree with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in recommending a cautious policy when dealing with Russia, we believe the senator is using the current distrust between Russia and the U.S. as cover to advance his real overriding agenda, promoting the fracked gas industry. After all, according to Ballotpedia.com, since 2009 Sen. Gardner has received at least $750,000 from the oil and gas industry in direct campaign contributions alone. As such, Gardner’s industry-serving “solutions” demand a more critical look.

George W. Bush famously and correctly said, “America is addicted to oil.” The same could be said for much of the developed world, including Europe. And when you have an addiction to a drug, the solution isn’t to switch dealers. The only solution is to get clean, and free yourself of the addiction. Europe would do itself no favors by maintaining its dependence on fossil fuel sources, regardless of country of origin.

First, there are the physical risks of leaks and spills when using tankers to convey mass amounts of liquified toxic fracked gas across thousands of miles of ocean. Those same risks are present with the use of pipelines from Russia. Then Europe would have to build out the massive infrastructure necessary to port and transmit the fracked gas across its territory, with all the resultant risks of leaks, spills, supply interruptions, sabotage, etc. Gardner’s GOP, and its leader, have shown themselves to be erratic, vindictive, and unreliable in maintaining a coherent, rational, and mutually productive trade policy, even with our closest allies. Russia too would presumably not hesitate to use energy dependency as a weapon if and when it deemed appropriate. Does Europe really want to throw its energy lot in with the likes of either Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin? Moreover, does Europe want to create the kind of corrupting influences on its governments and societies as we see here in Colorado and other fossil fuel-heavy states?

Overriding all other risks is, of course, our age’s defining issue of climate change. As we now know from much scientific research, fracked gas may be no less destructive in global warming or climate altering effects than coal. By locking Europe (not to mention the U.S.) into continued fossil-fuel dependency, we consign the planet to a future of ever-worsening droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather, and all the resultant consequences for food security, economies, human health, biodiversity, and political stability.

Regarding political stability and human migration, the words of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen are pertinent: “The scarcity of and potential competition for resources like water, food and space, complicated by an influx of refugees if coastal lands are lost, does not only create a humanitarian crisis but creates conditions of hopelessness that could lead to failed states and make populations vulnerable to radicalization. These challenges highlight the systemic implications and multiple-order effects inherent in energy security and climate change.” Europe is still dealing with the destabilizing trauma of millions of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Experts have pointed out the relationship between climate, a changing environment, and the current refugee problem.

The only real energy independence, the only real energy security, comes from renewable and perpetual energy sources. We have the technologies right now for production and storage of renewable energy sufficient to provide most if not all of our energy needs. What’s missing is the political will, a function of the profit motive, entrenched interests and entitlements. There are few better examples of these functions than Sen. Cory Gardner and the industry he represents.

Harv Teitelbaum
Lead, Beyond Oil and Gas Campaign
Sierra Club, Colorado Chapter

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics, formerly The Colorado Statesman, is the state's premier political news publication, renowned for its award-winning journalism. The publication is also the oldest political news outlet in the state, in continuous publication since 1898. Colorado Politics covers the stories behind the stories in Colorado's state Capitol and across the Centennial State, focusing on politics, public policy and elections with in-depth reporting on the people behind the campaigns — from grassroots supporters to campaign managers and the candidates and issues themselves.