When Americans hit the polls in a few weeks, job growth and the overall economy will be the most important issue in deciding whom they vote for Congress, a recent CBS News/New York Times polls says.
A CNN/ORC poll echoed similar sentiments, as did a Bloomberg national poll, NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. Trepidations about the economy, these polls show, are shared by all Americans – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, blue states, red states. We all have these worries.
But what often flies under the radar is the significant role energy production plays in our economic prosperity – and how politics and policy influence our energy outlook. The energy sector has been an impressive catalyst for job creation and sustainable growth for a number of years now, helping to power the economic recovery by producing jobs and lowering unemployment. The industry employs millions directly – and many more indirectly – touching the lives of every single American in countless ways every single day. Energy also brings in much-needed revenue for all levels of government, which helps stabilize taxes. Most importantly, dramatic increases in the production of American energy have lowered heating and cooling costs for homeowners and businesses and lowered and stabilized gasoline and diesel prices for our nation’s truckers, airlines and drivers. With families spending less each month to fill their gas tank and pay their utility bills, Americans have increased disposable income to go on vacation, complete a home project and pursue other needs – all of which help further our economic recovery.
The benefits have been felt from coast to coast, both in or near areas where production is booming and outside of energy production areas, and in various industries ranging from manufacturing to transportation. Take North Dakota, an epicenter of the energy renaissance, which saw its consumers raise their spending at triple the national pace in the three years that followed the Great Recession. The nation also saw a handsome boost, as Americans spending went up an average 10.7 percent, thanks again to lower energy prices, which helped rejuvenate a once perishing U.S. manufacturing sector, which is the midst of an industry boom themselves.
These industrial and consumer benefits can be maximized – or possibly deterred – by actions made by our lawmakers. Oftentimes, legislation affects how much we pay for many of the items we use daily. Regulations influence what it costs to heat and cool our homes, fuel our vehicles, and power our homes, schools, businesses, and communities. Energy regulations also affect what we pay for other non-energy related items, such as food, electronics, clothing, medication and thousands of other everyday items. No question voters will remember how much their utility and grocery bills are or how much it cost to fill up their gas tank when they close the curtain in their voting booths.
To continue these economic benefits we have enjoyed, Consumer Energy Alliance advocates for an “all-of-the-above” strategy that highlights all sources of energy – coal, nuclear, natural gas, renewables, and energy efficiency – each play an important role in fortifying and sustaining a robust yet diverse energy mix. Understanding that energy production and the development of energy infrastructure is at its root a nonpartisan issue that crosses political lines, we feel that this sensible approach is the most efficient way for the nation to be more self-reliant, secure, and globally competitive, all while growing less dependent on overseas nations for its energy supply. Party affiliation should not matter when it comes to meeting our nation’s energy needs, growing our economy and ensure a diverse and sustainable energy future. For too long, some have attempted to create a false choice pitting the environment against energy production of all types. We can and must protect our environment AND develop our energy resources. This should be something in which Democrats and Republicans should agree.
Whom we elect into office next month will affect if such a diversified energy plan based on smart, scientific decisions materializes. Anti-development forces, lacking or ignoring the right information, have already ramped up efforts to block energy development at all levels of the government. They are ready to derail the job growth and economic development we urgently need by frightening Americans into believing that their greatest worry, according to the polls, is of little concern to them.
Don’t believe them. Energy can be developed responsibly, so the false argument that it is either the environment or energy development increasingly rings hollow. The economy and the environment can be supported through safe energy development as we head to the voting booths on Nov. 4. Voters in Red States and Blue States agree – the economy is issue Number One. Consumers everywhere should stand up and start voting for those candidates who favor a non-partisan approach to ensuring a sensible energy future that utilizes natural gas, oil, coal, wind, solar, nuclear, renewables and energy efficiency.
That’s why a vote for energy is a vote for a stronger American economy and a better way of life.
David Holt is President of Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA)
This oped was originally published at Real Clear Energy-