Sneed Collard

I was watching Montana congressman Matt Rosendale in a debate the other night, and he kept talking about ‘energy independence.’ It didn’t take long for me to realize that for him—and other Republican politicians—energy independence is code for continued dependence on fossil fuels.

A major factor in this year’s election cycle are the higher prices we all are paying for goods and services. Higher oil and gas prices are responsible for much of this financial pain. In the 12 months ending in August, overall consumer prices increased 8.3% while energy prices increased a whopping 23.8% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In other words, higher oil and gas prices have been a major cause of Americans’ financial distress.

Not surprisingly, the response of Republicans such as Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke is to drill, drill, drill to increase supply. This simple-minded, short-sighted approach not only won’t bring down prices, it is responsible for a whole host of messes that we find ourselves in today.

Ask yourself why Vladimir Putin felt so comfortable invading Ukraine. There are several factors—including his chummy relationship with Donald Trump, probably the dictator’s most vocal international cheerleader. An even bigger factor is that Putin knew that much of Europe relied on Russian oil and natural gas for energy, and he bet that other countries wouldn’t dare oppose his move. His gamble failed, but he had good reason to believe it would succeed.

World dependence on fossil fuels has severely compromised our decision-making over and over again—with catastrophic results for our health, economy and national security. The Iraq war of Republican president G.W. Bush, while sold as an effort to prevent weapons of mass destruction, was a thinly-veiled effort to control oil in the region. It’s cost? More than 8,000 American lives (Business Insider 8/26/2022) and approximately $2 trillion dollars (Military Times 2/6/2020).

There are countless other examples of how the U.S. and other countries have compromised economics, politics, and morality to ensure that crude oil and natural gas keep flowing. And yet now, with new investments in solar, wind, and other sustainable energy, we can finally begin to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. So how do Zinke, Rosendale, and other Republicans respond? By trying to shove us back into a dirty, fossil-fuel-dominated energy picture that both jacks up our prices and makes us dangerously vulnerable to horrible decision-making and tyrants such as Putin.

Don’t fall for it.

Not only will further reliance on fossil fuels doom us to future financial, military, and environmental catastrophes, it won’t drive down energy prices anytime soon. Even with increased access to oil leases, oil companies are not eager to increase our oil supply. Forget about you and me, when covid hit, oil companies learned the hard way that extra oil does not make their shareholders happy.

For now, we are stuck with higher prices regardless of which party is in power, but whether or not you care for Biden as a person, Democratic policies are pointing us in the right direction. Creating true energy independence with sustainable energy can, in the next few years, protect us from the uncertainties of unstable oil and gas prices. Even better, it will allow our nation to make better economic, military, and other decisions free from OPEC-style blackmail.

This election, Republicans don’t want you seeing the big picture, but in a few weeks, show them you are smarter than they think. Vote Democratic for a future we can count on.