Gov. Kevin Stitt is playing politics with climate change by referring to how the Biden administration is pushing a left-leaning agenda that will have catastrophic consequences for the state of Oklahoma.
President Joe Biden is launching a broad attack on climate change, and he has many allies in a coalition that ranges from labor unions, anti-fracking activists and racial justice advocates to leaders of Wall Street, the auto industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And consider this: General Motors Co. is promising to go green by making all of its global operations and vehicles carbon-neutral by 2040, including selling only zero-emission models by 2035.
Yes, we do have to continue to promote and fund green energy with long-term goals of lessening our dependence on foreign crude. And, yes, Oklahoma should expand its industry base. Climate advocates now have more of a case to make than they did before, with devastating storms, wildfires and rising seas that pose an even bigger risk than ignoring them. Biden's recent orders have put a pause on oil and gas drilling permits in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and yes, there are some areas like in the Beaufort Sea that should be off-limits to drilling due to the abundance of polar bears, caribou, and wolves.
Ultimately, it will be a challenge to persuade Congress to allocate the $2 trillion to help eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 2035 and across the economy by 2050. And in terms of the fear of jobs lost in the fossil fuel industry, the plan is to replace these jobs with green energy jobs, as it will take a labor force to support alternative energy programs. Biden's Civilian Climate Corps Initiative will involve putting many Americans to work in the area of reforestation, restoring public lands and waters, and carbon sequestration in agriculture - just as in the aftermath of the Dust Bowl Depression era, when there were New Deal conservation programs implemented that involved using alternative techniques such as crop rotation to prevent soil erosion and evaporation.
The Biden initiative will also address the "fenceline communities," which again is an example of how minorities and low-income Americans live disproportionately near the sources of pollution. In one bold initiative and a 2020 campaign promise, Biden proposed the idea of putting 30% of all land and U.S. land and water under conservation protections by 2030.
Possibly the one initiative of the Biden administration that the oil and gas companies are especially upset about is the big open-end freeze on offering public land for drilling, pending reviews on whether that drilling is in the best public interest.
The science is there, and thankfully, Biden has already worked at lightning speed with executive orders to undo the damage done by the Trump administration. But the comprehensive environmental legislation will be the ultimate challenge to protect Mother Earth while boosting the economy, which are not two diametrically opposed goals.
In the final analysis, climate change is no hoax, as our own U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe put it some years ago, and the continued denial of global warming will not make a serious scientific matter disappear. In the current era, when the Republican Party is devoid of a well-crafted policy platform, the Biden administration has a plan to give Mother Earth a new lease on life. And the time to act from a legislative standpoint is now, and not carp about the monetary cost of saving the planet.
Brent Been is a Tahlequah educator with an emphasis on civics and history.