Yet, Congress has failed to act

By ROB SISSON, REP’s president

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: Rob gave this speech at a National Wildlife Federation event near the Kalamazoo River oil spill, on July 30, 2010.


In the late 1970s, the first oil crisis gave our national leaders the perfect opportunity to set America on a new path to energy independence. They punted the decision downfield to future generations. Today, a generation later, our national political leaders have again kicked the decision to the future.

How sad for us, our children and their children.

We spend about $1 billion per day to buy foreign oil, with much of that going to oil regimes that don’t like America very much. If we spent that money here, buying American-made clean energy, it would add nearly $2 trillion per year to the U.S. economy. 

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

The Department of Defense has identified climate change and our dangerous dependence on foreign oil as one of the top national security threats to our nation. 

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

The largest employers in our country have upwards of $200 billion of cash on hand available for capital investments. They have made it clear that as soon as comprehensive energy and climate legislation is signed into law, they will spend that money here on new plant and equipment…the largest stimulus our economy has ever seen, and all with private dollars. 

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

Those same companies–GE, DuPont, Duke Energy, Honeywell, FPL, Dow Corning, and many others–indicate that they will create upwards of 2 million new jobs in the first years after passage of comprehensive energy legislation. 

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

We’re spending $200 million this year to mitigate the climate change impact on a few Alaskan villages. 

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the BP gasoline spill in St. Joseph County, Mich., and the Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River are not once-in-a-lifetime events. These catastrophes happen everyday across America, endangering our health and welfare, our jobs, our environment, and wildlife. 

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

Study after study from reputable institutions, from MIT to the Office of Management and Budget to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, has reported that a comprehensive energy policy will enhance our economy and will not raise consumer’s energy prices more than $60 per year. 

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

Studies on economic competitiveness report that China is moving ahead of us in technology and innovation–destining us to be an importer of energy technology, instead of a world leader and supplier to the world.

Yet, Congress has failed to act.

Why has Congress failed to act? Because its members put their own political futures ahead of the national interest. 

One cannot watch television for five minutes without seeing an advertisement from some noble-sounding group that asks us to call our representatives or senators and tell them to vote “NO” on energy legislation… because it will kill jobs and raise utility prices. 

Unbelievably, a huge number of us pick up the phone and do just as we are told, letting clever ads push our emotional buttons and turn off our critical thinking faculties. 

A simple Google search of all of those groups, though, will demonstrate that they are funded almost entirely by oil or coal companies or associations of those industries. They have borrowed the playbook of deceit from the tobacco industry.

Just as Big Tobacco lied to us for 30 years about the health consequences of smoking, and worked to confuse the American consumer with misinformation in order to maintain the profitability of their products, the oil and coal companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year trying to convince you that a new energy policy isn’t in your best interest.

Those dollars, and the phone calls generated by them, have intimidated Congress. But that’s not all.

The leadership of my own party in Washington, D.C. has blocked the efforts to reinvent our national economy at every turn. Why? Because they know that if the billion dollars a day we’re spending on foreign oil were instead invested here at home, it would boost our economy. 

They know that the hundreds of billions of dollars that would be unleashed by our nation’s energy producers upon the signing of a comprehensive energy and climate bill would stimulate our economy and create new jobs — real jobs in engineering, product design, manufacturing, construction, and servicing. 

The bottom line is that it is not in the Republican Party’s short-term interest to see our economy turn around or new jobs created–that can’t happen until after the November election and they’ve squeezed every possible seat out of Democratic hands.

Our gullibility in buying what the oil and coal companies sell in their slick 30-second spots provides cover to Republican politicians, enabling them to regurgitate the misinformation and lies in stump speeches and press releases.

There will come, one day soon, a leader who stands up to special interests and who sets aside his or her own political agendas, and who will put the interest of our nation first. 

This person will talk of insuring prosperity for all future generations of Americans. That person’s integrity and love of our country and its people will raise him or her above all others in politics. Just as we fondly remember our Founding Fathers, U.S. citizens two centuries hence will remember that person.

Who will it be?