A new report put out by the Center for American Progress, run by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, says the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and climate change pose a serious national security risk for the nation.
Podesta and members of his staff unveiled the study titled: “Securing America’s Future” during a conference call with reporters.
The study contends American dependence on oil from nations such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran threatens the nation’s security because it forces the U.S. to choose between an effective foreign policy and higher energy prices. It additionally warns that oil outputs from friendly nations such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico are on the wane, and the expected depletion of Mexican oil reserves will increase competition with the U.S. for the same scarce foreign oil.
Currently, the U.S., according to the Center for American Progress, imports 2/3 of its oil from foreign sources, which is triple what it was in 1985.
Although the economic downturn has driven down oil prices over the past year, signs show prices are on the way back up now the global economy appears to be coming out of the recession.
The group says the level of U.S. petroleum consumption along with that of China has serious climate costs because climate change has serious implications for parts of the world that are already under severe environmental stress.
“There are weak and failing states that will be affected all the more so due to climate change,” Podesta said. “Climate change itself is an important national security problem that the United States faces and the Defense Department has begun to recognize.”
The report contends measures such as cap and trade, increased fuel standards and a transition to greater usage of natural gas and biofuels will answer these problems.
“Two things have already happened that will decrease our dependence on foreign oil,” Podesta said. “These include the fuel efficiency standards that President Obama announced last spring of 1/3 by 2013 will save eight billion barrels from cars for model years 2012-2016.
“Together with fuel economy, investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which include incentives to purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles, I think we are in the beginnings of what could be a change of course.”
Podesta emphasized his belief in the importance of placing a price on carbon emissions the way the Waxman-Markey bill, which passed the House in June does and in passing the NAT Gas Act ? legislation that would boost investments in converting heavy-duty trucks from using diesel to natural gas and encourage the conversion of taxis, municipal vehicles and delivery trucks to run on natural gas.
“We believe a combination of all of these things can make a dent in the security problems that the country faces,” Podesta said.
Podesta’s senior vice president for defense and security policy, Rudy DeLeon, told reporters changes need to be made because it will become increasingly difficult to reverse course on the nation’s energy consumption if the nation fails to action.
“The days when we can import at the rates we are, are dwindling,” DeLeon said. “This is a time when America can still act and control its own fate.”
Conservative opponents dismissed the report as being nothing more than an effort to lobby for the passage of cap-and-trade legislation.
“These reports have been around for years, and they are just being trotted out now as part of a push to pass cap and trade,” said Heritage Foundation homeland security and defense expert James Carafano. “There’s a couple of problems with this. The first thing they are trying to address is the fact cap and trade is incredibly unlikely to have an actual effect on climate change.
“There’s no data to show that it is actually effective, so even if you think [global warming] is a problem, cap and trade’s not going to be the solution.”
Carafano’s claim is substantiated by an April 2007 report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that found the industrialization of the developing world would negate reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions by the industrialized world.
He said introducing cap and trade likely would have severe negative effects on the U.S. economy and increase chances of unrest due to higher global energy costs.
“If the U.S. is in economic trouble, we are not going to be able to generate security to deal with these issues,” Carafano said. “The irony is that if you really believe climate change is a new national security issue, the last thing you would do would be to pass a cap and trade bill that is actually going to handicap our ability to respond to things in the future.”
Carafano told Newsmax climate change has occurred throughout history, and unrest has not always coincided with negative climate changes. There have been, he said, times when violence has accompanied climate improvements such as during the French Revolution, which followed several good growing years. Conversely, there have been times such as in the 17th century during a period of poor climate when positive stabilizing changes occurred ? the scientific revolution and democracy in this case.”
“Climate is only one of many, many factors that affect whether there is violence or not,” he said. “So there is no direct correlation between climate change and wars.”
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