The president’s plan announced today to create a $2 billion “energy security trust” – financed by existing government royalties from fossil fuel production – puts us on the wrong path. Linking the fund to oil and gas production will only encourage more dirty energy production. Better options exist.
This approach doesn’t create any additional cost for using fossil fuels, thus creating no incentive for firms to divert resources into safer, cleaner and more renewable sources of energy.
Additionally, linking modest investments in energy alternatives to oil and gas production creates a misguided incentive for more oil and gas drilling – a bad idea made worse without reform regulations and liability caps on offshore drilling. At a time when climate change is increasingly evident and BP is on trial for killing workers and doing untold damage to our coastline, we need a much more aggressive plan – one that will allow us to move away from fossil fuels and toward a sustainable future.
In the context of the current congressional push to expand offshore drilling, a proposal like the president’s shows that Congress and the administration have not learned any lessons from the BP disaster or the countless other crises that have come about because of our addiction to fossil fuels.
Congress has yet to enact a single reform in the wake of the nation’s largest environmental and industrial disaster. We can’t simply keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
Instead, the president should support the proposed Climate Protection Act of 2013, which would finance many more billions for clean energy through a progressive carbon fee. This plan would provide the freedom for the country to invest in a future that provides the power we need to run a prosperous society, while also leaving the world better off than we found it.
Tyson Slocum is Public Citizen’s energy program director. Follow him @TysonSlocum.