“Does this really make us more secure?” is the question that goes through my mind every time I fly and stand in the TSA line taking off my belt and shoes. Recently in such a line, I was in back of a very frail, elderly woman in a wheelchair. As she was wheeled up to the metal detector, the TSA agent asked, “Can she stand?” Struggling to her feet, the old woman then slowly shuffled through the machine. Did this really make my flight more secure? I asked this question again while watching President Obama tie climate change and terrorism together in his speech to the COP 21 meeting in Paris last week.
The President made the case that, if the world works together on climate change, the world’s economies will improve and, thus, reduce the threat of terrorism. Without action on climate change, the President predicted an environmental disaster looming in the future. He said that, with action on climate change, the world will be a more secure and more prosperous place. He left the conference with “high hopes” the 195 nations gathered there will be able to accomplish a lot in the coming weeks.
On the campaign trail, candidates from both parties were quick to criticize the President. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina called President Obama “delusional” to think climate change is the country’s biggest terror threat. Yet, the biggest indication that the President’s comments were flimflam came from within his own administration. Within hours of Mr. Obama’s remarks in Paris, the EPA announced the final rule on the blend levels of ethanol through 2017.
While increasing the levels slightly, the agency set them 4 billion gallons below what was called for in the Renewable Fuel Standard. In addition, the agency left in place the mechanism that lets the oil companies determine how much ethanol they will blend. The US has been a leader in the development and use of bio-based fuels, which have done more to reduce greenhouse gases than almost anything else. But instead of pushing this effort forward, the Obama administration is limiting the growth of renewable fuel in the US.
In his speech in Paris, the President called for innovation to find solutions to climate change. Thus, it is the height of hypocrisy that for the last 2 years his agency has held the biofuel industry in limbo by first proposing a cut in ethanol use and finally grudgingly granting a small increase. The way the EPA has mismanaged the RFS has caused any new investment in biofuel to dry up and head offshore.
The failure of the EPA to increase ethanol use and provide motorists with the choice of higher blends of ethanol has allowed OPEC to continue to dominate the oil market and control the price of oil and gasoline. Is this making our nation more secure? The White House has also blocked domestic oil exploration and the Keystone pipeline, further deepening our dependence on imported oil. Ironically, the US military has been gearing up to use more biofuel, since they see it as a more secure and reliable source of energy for our ships, planes, and tanks.
The President’s comments on climate change and security are empty and meaningless because they are not backed up by programs and policies that really address the issues. If he really wants to make our future more economically and environmentally secure, he should take the shackles off the renewable fuel sector, stimulate domestic oil production, and provide incentives for corporations and individuals to reduce GHG emission and to sequester carbon. We have the technology and the innovative capacity to meet the climate change challenge. Just like taking your shoes off at the airport, these grand conferences, big speeches, long range plans, and restrictive regulations do little to provide any real security. They simply fool us into thinking that something is being done to solve the problem.
By Gary Truitt