Clean energy is the key to national security for the European Union and the United States

This is a moment of leadership for Congress and the White House.

Solar panels at the Flatirons campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Arvada, Colorado.

Werner Slocum/NREL, 65308

In work to ban Russian oil imports at the end of the year, the European Union (EU) is tightening its belt to put pressure on the Kremlin and its savage attacks on Ukraine.

It is a bold and substantial decision.

Russia is an oil state that funds about 40% of its federal budget through oil and gas sales. EU countries get a quarter of their oil from Russia. They paid over $25 billion for Russian oil since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

Cutting off that revenue stream is the right decision, morally and strategically. This will reduce EU financial support for Russia’s atrocities and make it harder for Moscow to fund military aggression that threatens Europe’s security.

Later this month, the EU will also roll out plans to phase out Russian gas and coal, completely severing ties with Russian energy sources over the next few years.

The United States must help.

Immediately, that means helping EU countries find emergency alternatives to Russian energy supplies, to lessen the hardship that change is placing on families and businesses across Europe.

In the longer term, EU countries have pledged to completely reduce demand for fossil fuels, from Russia and elsewhere. This is at the heart of the EU’s commitment to reduce carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55%, below 1990 levels, by 2030.

The United States must do the same, both to help our European allies and to strengthen our own country.

It’s time to break, once and for all, America’s dependence on the fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis, that are holding our families and businesses hostage to global price shocks out of out of our control and filling the Kremlin’s war chest.

Ending all of this is a strategic imperative. It is an environmental necessity. And it’s an economic opportunity – the economic game, in fact, of our lives.

For President Biden and Congress, this is a moment of leadership, a time to stand up and deliver on climate action nearly 7 in 10 Americans expectthat will strengthen the economy, make the country safer and help bankrupt the Kremlin’s war machine.

The best way to advance these goals is to enact the critical clean energy investment agenda pending in Congress – and enact it now.

Biden moved quickly to ban US imports of Russian oil in the first weeks of the war in Ukraine. More than two months of Russian atrocities there have made it clear that we must go further and free ourselves from the tyranny of fossil fuel addiction. We simply cannot continue to support a global oil regime that funds belligerent oil states like Russia.

U.S. oil dependence has often been in conflict with U.S. values, security goals, and the broader national interest in global stability, based on respect for international norms, laws, and institutions. He has long been the great albatross around the neck of American foreign policymakers.

Russia’s petro-aggression has shown it clearly: this type of dependence is no longer tenable, in any way, from a strategic point of view. It narrows our options, limits our effectiveness, and weakens the country, its friends, and its allies.

Nor can we afford to continue to depend on a fuel that regularly disrupts the economy with global price and supply shocks that we can neither control nor predict.

Phasing out fossil fuels is also an environmental necessity. Just ask the one in three Americans who told Gallup in March that their lives were already upended by hurricanes, heat waves, floods and other disasters compounded by the climate crisis.

In 2021, excessive rainfall from Hurricane Ida caused unprecedented flooding in Philadelphia, as well as other parts of the East Coast.

Branden Eastwood/AFP via Getty Images

Last year wildfires burned enough US land to cover the state of Massachusetts – just a portion of the extreme weather and climate-related disasters that claimed the lives of 724 people and cost the country nearly $150 billion in 2021 alone. This is on top of the staggering $820 billion in healthcare costs imposed on the country each year by climate change and fossil fuel production.

The 2022 wildfire season has just started in earnest, Burning enough land in New Mexico alone to cover an area almost the size of New York City, and the fires have already charred more than twice as much land like at this point last year.

The American West bakes through its worst drought in 1,200 years. Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the countryjust fell 30 percent of capacitythe lowest level since it was filled in 1937. And, with Colorado River Shortages threatening the water supply of nearly 40 million people, the drought is expected to spread.

All of this and more will get worse, as the science clearly shows, unless we do what Biden pledged and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52%, below 2005, by 2030.

We can do this by switching to cleaner, smarter ways to power our future, a shift that can create hundreds of thousands of jobs in states like Arizona, Michigan and West Virginia, while helping position American workers and businesses to succeed in the clean energy market that is expected to attract some $30 trillion in global investments over the next two decades alone.

Once enacted, the clean energy and climate package pending in the Senate – some $550 billion in investment and tax incentives over 10 years – will help the country break its dependence on fossil fuels. It will help us get more clean energy from the wind and the sun, accelerate the shift to electric cars, make our homes and workplaces more efficient, and build a modern, reliable electricity grid. It will direct specific benefits to low-income communities and regions historically dependent on fossil fuel production. And, alongside the rules for cleaning our power plants and vehicles, there reduce annual energy costs by $500 per householdon average.

The House has already passed this essential bill. It’s time for the Senate and the White House to get together and deal with it.

Leadership is rarely more important than during a crisis. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has inflicted a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis and an energy crisis on the Ukrainian people as well as on Europe in general and much of the rest of the world.

This is a moment of leadership for Congress and the White House. It’s time to put in place the essential clean energy incentives that we know can help the country move beyond fossil fuels. This is the way to build real energy security, strengthen the economy and help starve the Kremlin war machine.

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