Clean energy & electric vehicles will help Arizonans' pocketbooks & national security
Fossil fuels are an inherently destabilizing force, as events in Ukraine remind us.
Recently, the Biden administration banned American purchases of Russian oil, methane gas and coal to punish the country for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Our reliance on fossil fuels is increasingly a threat to our national and economic security. It’s why we must accelerate the transition to stable, locally produced renewable energy.
The national security implications of relying on dictators for our energy are obvious. We immediately feel the economic pain when their actions roil the globe, such as at the gas pump.
Increased demand had already pushed gasoline prices up, just as the economy roared out of the pandemic. The uncertainty created by the invasion of Ukraine sent them further soaring past $4 a gallon in the United States.
There is an alternative to stem our legacy with oil and gas: The U.S. must make a meaningful transition to electric vehicles and clean energy. Driving an EV is the equivalent of driving on $1 per gallon gasoline, in addition to eliminating those regular oil changes. All American families will love saving on fuel and maintenance.
Arizona has shown that embracing the EV industry can do more than clean the air and save consumers money — It can invigorate an economy. The Grand Canyon State is home to multiple EV manufacturers, billions in capital investment and thousands of jobs in the growing industry. And we are just at the beginning of EV development.
Europe has been grappling with high energy prices and Russian pressure for longer than we have. As the world’s second largest producer of gas and third biggest oil producer, Russia provides most of Europe’s energy needs.
Vladimir Putin was testing how much control that gave him long before his tanks rolled into Ukraine. He cut gas flows to the European Union by 25% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to a year earlier. Last month, he escalated his energy war by cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.
Over the course of the year, wholesale gas prices surged by more than 400% in Europe. And while we struggle with gasoline prices approaching $5 a gallon, the British are paying nearly twice as much.
So, it’s no wonder that, on the same day Biden announced his Russian fossil fuel ban, the European Union unveiled a new energy roadmap designed to cut reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds in one year and ending it all together well before 2030. The plan calls for a massive ramping up of renewable energy, biogas and hydrogen.
This is exactly what the United States needs to do. Rather than advocating for more oil production – already near record levels – with its attendant climate damage, this nation needs to speed the transition to clean energy. Renewable energy is increasingly competitive and often cheaper than gas.
Clean energy is also stable in price with no volatile cost shifts suffered by fossil fuels, which can change in an instant based on the latest geopolitics.
In Arizona, we have abundant sunshine. Strong, steady winds turn turbines across the northern portion of the state. We have much to gain by embracing renewable energy to power our cars, homes and businesses.
And so does the country. According to one estimate, achieving a 90% clean electricity grid and electrifying all new cars and trucks by 2035 would save the U.S. nearly $3 trillion and support 2 million jobs, while reducing air pollution.
And it would serve our national security interests.
Ukraine is just the latest example of how dependence on destabilizing fossil fuels can hold nations hostage. It’s well past time to break those chains, embrace clean energy, and strengthen our national security interests.
Energy consultant and former director of the Arizona Energy Office