Issue Position: Climate Change

Issue Position

We can see the impact of climate change in Alaska every day. From receding glaciers and thinning sea ice to beach erosion and the Interior's extended summer fire season, the shifts we see in the natural world around us cannot be denied. It's important we address both the causes and impacts of climate change, but it must be done through a truly balanced energy policy. One that creates jobs, revitalizes the economy and improves our nation's energy security, and does so with good stewardship of the environment.

We should reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use as a nation. At the same time, it's important to acknowledge that oil, gas and coal will continue to be part of our energy mix for decades to come. Learning to use these resources smarter and more efficiently is key to our energy security and our protection of the environment. We can start by redoubling our commitment to developing new technologies.

First, we should continue to improve our energy efficiency and conservation. Enhanced energy efficiency can buy us time to develop new technologies and expand our transmission infrastructure so that we can make increased use of renewable energy feasible.

Second, we need to put in place policies that encourage investment in developing renewable energy and transformative technologies. Americans have always been leaders in innovation and I believe we can find workable solutions to our energy needs and the challenges presented by climate change if we commit ourselves as a nation.

Third, we need to increase domestic production of all forms of energy, including conventional fossil fuels, as we bridge the gap between the clean energy future we want and the reliable and affordable energy we expect. While we can't drill our way to energy independence, an energy policy based solely on efficiency and renewables is similarly unrealistic.

There are clearly environmental benefits to meeting more of our energy needs with domestic production. We can do it in this country responsibly with known conventional safeguards or we can buy it from someplace else that doesn't have the same strict environmental protections.

We all care about the environment and we all want cleaner energy. It's a goal I believe we should be working toward every day. We need to be honest, though, about what it's going to take to transform our energy system. We didn't become dependent on oil overnight and we won't transform the economy in weeks, months or even years. Fossil fuels met 85 percent of our primary energy needs in 2007. The EIA projects that percentage will decline slowly -- to 79 percent by 2030. It's going to take decades and massive new investment to develop and expand our use of renewable energy, devise cleaner ways to use coal and figure out how to safely capture and store carbon dioxide so that we reduce our emissions.

For the sake of our economy, our national security and the world's environment, we need energy that's affordable, abundant and domestic. We need to boost domestic production of oil and gas while curbing consumption and increasing efficiency so that we can both reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources and improve our environment.