Like the rest of the world, we are undergoing one of the greatest transformations of our energy sector in the history of our country. Renewables are outpacing the growth of every other energy sector. Despite the passage of a tax bill that ends tax credits for wind, solar, and other clean energy sources, I still believe that growth will continue next year and beyond. Wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources are creating jobs at a record clip and lowering utility bills for individuals, families, and businesses. In Hawai`i, our state government has committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement to generate 100% of our energy from renewable sources by 2045. This isn’t just good for our environment – it’s good for our economy too. Where oil and fracking contaminate precious freshwater aquifers, rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans, the minimal upkeep after installing wind turbines or solar panels means we can invest more resources to expand these energy sources, not waste money trying to maintain them when they inevitably break and pollute our water, air, and land.
Earlier this year I introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act to take initiatives like the one undertaken by my home state of Hawai`i a step further. I believe that if Congress leads the way to set a goal of attaining 100% of our energy from renewable sources by 2035, we can hasten the clean energy transformation that scientists, the military, intelligence agencies, economists, and the American people all know is necessary to compete in the 21st-century global economy. It’s very simple – fossil fuels are finite, and they will run out in a matter of years. The longer we delay our transition, the more difficult, expensive, and calamitous to our environment that transformation will be. That’s why the OFF Act sets a benchmark of attaining 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2027, in just ten years. This is entirely possible if we have the will to work together and achieve it. The United States has undertaken major infrastructure and energy projects before, and with the public’s support, I believe we can undertake them once more. It is time for us to reassume our status as a world leader in science, technology, and energy. That only happens if we become energy independent instead of relying on fossil fuels that give corporations and special interests the lion’s share of influence over policymaking.
Republicans talk about economic growth, but there is a contradiction when it comes to protecting the profits of their campaign contributors in the fossil fuel industry. In order to continue receiving donations from oil, coal, and other industries, they are in fact working to stifle economic growth in the renewables sector. This contradiction can be attributed to the total failure of our campaign finance system in the post-Citizens United political landscape, but it does not mean that the rapid growth of renewable energy cannot continue.
We must ban fracking, divest from fossil fuel projects and infrastructure, and focus on agricultural policies that support farmers, small businesses, and food safety instead of corporations. The American people, grassroots organizations, and an increasing number of public servants believe that attaining 100% renewable energy by 2035 is the way forward. With your help, we can achieve it.
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