Publisher’s note: This opinion piece is in response to Sen. Larry Craig’s (R-Idaho) opinion on the climate change conference.
Sen. Larry Craig got one thing right in his rambling attack on the United Nations climate change conference under way in Indonesia: “Reducing emissions need not be so painful.”
The senator is exactly right. Greenhouse gas emissions reductions needn’t be painful, but only if we have the kind of visionary leadership and ingenuity that have been lacking from him and the Administration over the past seven years. Moreover, if not for the roadblocks constantly thrown up by Mr. Craig and others in denial, Idaho would already be experiencing huge economic benefits associated with the clean energy businesses – benefits already being realized in other states in our region and across the country.
Mr. Craig’s partisan name-calling and his knee-jerk dismissal of views held by a majority of Idahoans shows how detached he has become from practical solutions to addressing climate issues. Some 190 nations are in Bali to begin crafting a new climate change protocol to replace the Kyoto agreement when it expires in 2012. Thanks to the startling lack of leadership from the U.S. government, the United States becomes ever more isolated in the face of irrefutable evidence demanding action.
The senator says his like-minded colleagues “Will do our best to discuss the real need to balance clean energy with our energy security.” He misses the point. Developing clean energy resources in this country actually enhances our energy security.
Mr. Craig says the United States “Has reduced the intensity of our emissions steadily during the last 7 years” by “using cleaner energy, not less energy, while growing our economy.” This disinformation trifecta ignores the fact that the United States’ total emissions continue to grow. And while we are gradually using cleaner energy, we could and should be using less energy per capita through conservation and efficiency measures. Developing low or zero-carbon renewable energy resources will grow our economy; and provide world leadership on this key issue. Craig is stuck in the past and devotes his reduced influence in the senate to protecting those who share his rear view mirror vision.
Mr. Craig asserts “Idaho continues to simultaneously lead the country in fewest greenhouse gas emissions emitted and lowest power rates paid.” True, Idaho has no coal-fired power plants. That’s because it imports electricity from dirty, greenhouse gas-emitting coal-fired plants in Nevada, Wyoming, and Oregon.
Idaho and our country have a bright energy future that does not require “suffering.” What we need is to shed the cynicism of those who would deny climate change. Mr. Craig should know better. Instead, we must make a serious, long-term commitment to a sustainable and affordable energy future for all.
So, do we want change, or not? Election 2008 is the time to move forward in a new direction with new leadership on alternative sources of energy. Idaho is well poised to make outstanding contributions in this arena. We can do it , Idaho.
Former Congressman Larry LaRocco is the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat currently held by Larry Craig.