When you flick on a light switch, you probably have little more in mind than lighting your way in a dark room. The vast infrastructure of energy sources and electricity grids that supply the power for your light bulb is probably the last thing on your mind. But it's time to start paying attention, because where you get your energy from and how you use it has a significant impact on our environment and economy.
Right now, we're drawing most of our energy from dirty sources that contribute to global warming and raise energy bills for American families. In fact, if we continue to rely on fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas to fuel our homes, businesses and transportation, by 2030 consumers in Indiana will spend as much as $2,011 more on fossil fuels every year. We need to repower America with clean energy and invest in efficiency measures so we can keep meeting our energy needs without the pollution and costs associated with fossil fuels, while creating thousands of green jobs for American workers at the same time.
Our national leaders recognize the need for action on this issue, which is why the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act this spring. The bill contains a number of important measures to increase energy efficiency like requiring utilities to save energy, setting standards to make new buildings more efficient and funding state programs that retrofit existing homes to save money on energy bills.
Unfortunately, powerful interests in the fossil fuel and homebuilding industries have been working hard to generate opposition to these policies, claiming that switching to clean energy and emphasizing efficiency measures would cost too much.
"Indiana households could save an average of $314 per year and benefit from the creation of 13,000 new sustainable jobs over the next 10 years if Congress acts now to include strong energy efficiency improvements in the climate and energy legislation."
Nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to energy efficiency, the interests of the environment and the economy are perfectly aligned: the less energy we use, the less we spend on energy bills. There is an initial investment required to install a more efficient furnace or purchase higher quality insulation, but these costs are recouped many times over in annual energy savings, and many studies have shown that investing in energy efficiency creates more jobs than investing in the dirty technologies of the past.
A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy confirms these advantages, explaining that not only will energy efficiency policies lower energy costs and create jobs, but the stronger we make the House bill, the bigger those benefits get.
For example, the report shows that Indiana households could save an average of $314 per year and benefit from the creation of 13,000 new sustainable jobs over the next 10 years if Congress acts now to include strong energy efficiency improvements in the climate and energy legislation. The energy efficiency provisions also would prevent 17 tons of global warming pollution from being emitted into the atmosphere.
These numbers demonstrate the massive potential to preserve our environment and revitalize our economy through increased energy efficiency. This is an opportunity we can't afford to pass up. We need Senators Bayh and Lugar to push for strong efficiency measures like standards to require utilities to reduce energy demand by 10 percent by 2020 and requirements that utilities spend one-third of the credits they would get under an energy efficiency bill so we can take advantage of the enormous potential for energy savings and job creation while significantly reducing global warming pollution.
We've known about the benefits of energy efficiency and the threat of global warming for decades, but special interests have blocked any real progress at the national level until now. It's time for us to invest in a clean energy economy so that when you flick that light switch, you're doing more than just illuminating your home.
By repowering America with clean energy, we're investing in a brighter future for our environment and our economy.
Megan Severson is the Midwest Field Organizer with Environment America. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.