By Michele Combs & Brian Smith
As Election Day gets closer, a growing number of young conservatives are urging political leaders to make energy reform a national priority.
That’s why Young Conservatives for Energy Reform recently co-sponsored a reception in Washington, D.C. We want Republicans inside the Beltway to know what we are hearing outside the Beltway. At meetings and events we’ve held across the country over the past several months, young conservatives have told us that we need a new approach to energy in this country. To us, it’s not a partisan issue. It’s an American issue.
As Lt. General Richard Zilmer (USMC, Ret.) of CNA’s Military Advisory Board put it at our D.C. event, our over-dependence on oil makes our nation weaker. We send nearly a billion dollars a day overseas to pay for oil. Some of that money ends up in the hands of people who wish to do us harm. This puts us in the position of funding both sides of the war against terrorism. And that’s a position we can’t afford to be in.
Our oil addiction also comes at great cost to our military - both in blood and in treasure. Every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the Department of Defense over $1 billion dollars, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. And on the battlefield, the need for oil puts our troops’ lives in greater danger, because our enemies often target fuel convoys. In fact, an Army study found 1 in 24 fuel convoys results in an American casualty.
For young conservatives, these costs are unacceptable. And we believe adopting an “all-of-the-above” and “Made in America” approach to energy is the solution. That means reducing our over-dependence on oil, becoming more energy efficient, and developing homegrown energy sources such as natural gas, solar, wind, and biofuels.
We also support moving to homegrown energy for economic reasons. Last year, investment in the global renewable energy market reached a record $260 billion. America must move quickly to secure the lead in this fast-growing market. Doing so will help reinvigorate our economy, and keep more American jobs and dollars here at home. We want to own the cutting-edge energy technologies of the future—and not continue to rely heavily on other countries to fuel our energy needs.
One of us is a veteran of the war in Iraq. The other is a mother. And we both- along with many other young conservatives - also support homegrown energy for the sake of cleaner air.
We believe that protecting our air and water is an important family-values issue. In 1970, Senator Barry Goldwater wrote, “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment." We agree. Renewable energy will cut down on pollution, and help ensure a healthier future for American families and future generations.
When it comes to energy reform, there’s a growing disconnect between the way the issue is discussed inside the Beltway and outside the Beltway. Across the country, in state after state, young conservatives want greater energy efficiency and homegrown energy. They know this approach will make America safer, stronger and cleaner. We brought this message to our recent event in Washington, D.C. And we intend to continue to share this message with our nation’s elected officials after Election Day.
Michele Combs is the President of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YC4ER) and a former “Young Republican of the Year.” Brian Smith, an Air Force veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is YCER’s Midwest Chair.