Failing schools, crime and single-parent households are just a few of the challenges facing urban communities. Now, thanks to radical environmentalists and their supporters, a bunch I like to call "Club Green," they must face soaring energy as well.
"Club Green" enthusiasts are everywhere these days; their ideology is part of the liberal orthodoxy, and I, for one, want nothing to do with them. They are against oil exploration in Alaska and off our coasts. They took a hit last month when Congress voted to end a moratorium on offshore drilling, ending a 26-year ban on new leases. But this boon to domestic energy production could be fleeting, according to House Appropriations Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin, who told reporters, "This next election will decide what our drilling policy is going to be."
Environmentalists and their liberal backers are also blocking the construction of new coal-fired power plants that produce electricity. Plans for 59 coal-based power plants were canceled in 2007, and plans for 50 others are now being challenged.
All this leads to higher energy prices and pain in the pocketbooks of those who can least afford it—poor, black people living in struggling neighborhoods.
According to the Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey, the annual median black household income was $34,001 and $40,766 for Hispanics—well below the $50,740 national median. Additionally, 24.7 percent of blacks and 20.7 percent of Hispanics lived in poverty. As energy prices climb, they lose a higher percentage of their take-home pay to increased energy costs—leaving less for things such as savings, education and health care.
Seeking empathy may be asking too much.
Al Gore, the environmentalists' spiritual leader, lectured in Washington, D.C. in July about phasing out fossil fuels. Despite his righteous talk about stopping the "catastrophic" effects of global warming, Gore can't seem to walk the walk.
He flies in private planes, and his Tennessee mansion surely uses much more energy than the average American home. As Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, pointed out in a recent blog post, Gore was chauffeured to his July speech in a gas-guzzling motorcade of two Lincoln Town Cars and a Chevy Suburban SUV. There's nothing wrong with enjoying one's wealth, but it's hypocritical when Gore asks others to sacrifice their standards of living but does not seem to do the same.
Powerful special interests such as the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund—with operating budgets in the tens of millions of dollars paying for lobbying, ads and grassroots organizing—also part of the "Club Green" phenomenon. They are joined by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Sheryl Crow.
Businesses are also joining in, and sometimes for less than altruistic reasons. General Electric, for instance, makes wind turbines. It's therefore no surprise that GE subsidiary NBC Universal promoted environmental policies during its "Green Week" earlier this year by encouraging "…viewers and fans to go green with green-themed programming across all of its channels and affiliates aimed at entertaining, informing and empowering Americans to lead greener lives."
Despite the hype about wind power and boasts about other renewable energy sources, 85 percent of our nation's energy comes from fossil fuels. Energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar only currently provide about 7 percent of our power and cannot replace fossil fuels anytime soon.
In its September 2008 report, the federal Energy Information Agency predicteda 25 percent rise in heating oil prices and a 17 percent rise in natural gas prices this winter as well as a 9.5 percent projected increase in electricity costs in 2009. Adding to that, gasoline still hovers near $4 a gallon, and the public demands more domestic energy production. A recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters found that 67 percent supported new offshore fossil fuel exploration.
Our nation is blessed with an abundant supply of natural resources. The problem is that Congress, at the demand of Club Green, blocks access to these resources at the peril of families.
What's disturbing is that, like Gore, many of Club Green's leaders are among the elite. They are the wealthy, famous, politically-connected and largely immune to the sticker shock of high energy costs.
Something is terribly wrong because the wealth and the political access of a few are being used to dictate how everyone should live.
Deneen Borelli is a fellow for the Project 21, a national network of black executives.