Executive Order 13990: “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” That’s the official name for President Biden’s order canceling the Keystone XL pipeline (among other things), a move welcomed by the progressive wing of his party for the stand it supposedly takes against the dangers of fossil fuels, oil, and fracking. What many voters are now realizing, however, is the financial cost of Believing in Science, as union workers (even those supporting the President) continue to reel from the effects of the decision.
The opposition mounted by most of the Republican commentator class is misguided, however. It continues to focus on whether or not climate change is actually a man-made phenomenon, engaging in a meta-level discussion about the “realness” of climate change, hoping to muddle the conversation long enough to frustrate the path toward Green socialism. This, however, is turning out to be a losing strategy: poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans are accepting climate change as a crisis, a view that’s even embraced by Republicans.
[R]elying on our ability to rationalize with our political opponents will not save American jobs or preserve energy independence.
And even if climate change isn’t the main concern, energy independence absolutely is. Republican voters have long been wary of the Bush-era support for military interventionism to maintain access to foreign oils: almost every foreign war the U.S. has waged for the last 30 years (or, in Syria’s case, “protection”) has been, at least in some part, for that reason-the cost of which will be felt for generations to come. The push for energy independence is why there’s been so much enthusiasm for fracking, which has helped the country achieve that goal. In 2017, despite prohibitions put on the industry by the fracking-averse Obama administration, we reached close to 10 million barrels of crude oil production per day, the highest level in the nation’s history. By 2019, we became the top oil producer in the world.
Now, as the Biden administration ramps up its war on the energy industry, with officials like John Kerry outright telling workers to quit their jobs and become solar power and wind turbine technicians, it’s tempting to want to return to our old strategy of climate denialism. Regardless of how overblown the threat is, relying on our ability to rationalize with our political opponents will not save American jobs or preserve energy independence.
Instead, Republicans should move towards a wartime conservative approach: stealing the dominant frame to accomplish an American-centric agenda.
The Biden climate agenda, for the most part, is about quick and easy political wins-not saving the planet. Flashy moves like rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, halting oil, gas, and coal leases on federal lands, or canceling Keystone make sense if you’re trying to appease green globalists and coastal elites who can afford an increase in oil and energy prices. So does the President’s enthusiasm for so-called clean energy sources like wind and solar, which comes at the detriment of our existing energy infrastructure (not to mention the environment itself).
An America-first energy solution, by comparison, is one that re-asserts our energy independence and provides safe, affordable energy for all our consumer and business needs.
Nuclear power is that solution.
THE NUCLEAR OPTION
In 2019, California spent $100 billion on solar, wind, and other “renewable” energy sources, which only supplies roughly 30% of the state’s energy. Nuclear energy would have fulfilled 100% of the state’s energy demand at the same cost and would have done so with a lower carbon footprint.
The answer probably has to do with how much influence wind and solar lobbies have with the current administration.
As Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) notes in his book Firebrand, “modern nuclear power would be invaluable to our military bases, [ ] taking them off-grid makes the country’s grid far less attractive of a target to hackers.” Gaetz goes further to pose the question of why cities with docked nuclear aircraft carriers, such as San Diego and Honolulu, are not already being used to generate safe, clean power. The answer probably has to do with how much influence wind and solar lobbies have with the current administration.
While the Democrats’ enthusiasm for cleaner, greener energy is cheered on by solar and wind advocacy groups, it is nuclear energy that provides the most efficient form of generating energy, and it’s not even close. Nuclear energy is also the greenest, overcoming many of the threats posed to the climate and endangered species by mining the materials for solar panels and wind turbines.
In fact, a safe, modern, nuclear-based grid provides Americans the ability to directly clean the air surrounding traditional fossil fuel plants, solving the environmental lobby’s primary issue-carbon emissions. In a 2018 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that, “Nuclear power holds the potential to make a significant contribution to decarbonizing the U.S. energy system.” The report continues: “It should be a source of profound concern for all who care about climate change that, for entirely predictable and resolvable reasons, the United States appears set to virtually lose nuclear power, and thus a wedge of reliable and low-carbon energy, over the next few decades.”
Modern, meltdown-free reactors are currently in development from legacy companies such as General Electric (in association with Hitachi) and Westinghouse. Upstarts like TerraPower and NuScale are in the midst of developing even safer small modular reactors, which are self-contained and essentially the size of a pair of average cargo containers.
Americans, especially those in rural areas and small-towns can no longer afford not to go nuclear.
A recent bipartisan effort by Sens. Coons (D-DE) and Braun (R-IN) specifically advocated for small modular reactors, which the Department of Energy describes as offering many advantages and ensures we don’t, as Coons highlighted, “neglect the needs of underserved communities where too much of already stretched paychecks can be lost to energy inefficiency alongside added health risks from pollution.”
A recent report from the Netherlands found that solar and wind energy requires anywhere from 148 to 536 more land than nuclear energy, and cost four times as much. In France, nuclear power produces electricity with just 10% of the carbon emissions as renewables-heavy Germany-at half the cost.
This has massive trickle-down effects: reducing electricity costs means lower costs of production, which in turn leads to cheaper goods and increased buying power for everyday citizens.
Americans, especially those in rural areas and small-towns, who spend a disproportionately higher share of their income on energy bills (a median energy burden of 1.1% more than the national burden according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy), can no longer afford not to go nuclear.
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