Columns, Opinion

American Protest: We should stop having the conversation about renewable energy and start using it

Within a few years of America mining for coal, almost every house in the country was dependent on the energy it created. It was widely assumed that if America lost all access to coal, it would not be able to function.

This was over a century ago and we are still dependent on the non-renewable energy sources we use to power our homes, cars and lives. At this point in history cities did not even have sophisticated sewage systems, yet we are still using the same nonrenewable energy they did to this day.

Even though science has progressed enough to show how harmful drilling for oil and burning coal are for the environment, we continue to rely on it. We even drilled through sacred Sioux land to create a pipeline for more oil transportation through North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois.

Last week that pipeline leaked 383,000 gallons of oil and coated an estimated half-acre of wetland, according to The New York Times. Though there are no residences nearby and that wetland is not a source of drinking water, there is still wildlife and a fragile ecosystem that is now coated in toxic oil.

This has been a clear indicator that leaks are an inevitable part of oil pipelines, something many of us knew after the continuous oil spills we’ve seen in the past decades. Yet we continue to build these pipes with the knowledge that it will probably destroy an ecosystem in the near future.

At the same time this is happening, President Donald Trump’s administration announced its intentions to roll back regulations that limit dangerous heavy metal production from coal-fired power plants.

These regulations were created during President Barack Obama’s time in office to prevent arsenic, lead and mercury from being put into the atmosphere.

Environmental groups have warned that these heavy metals can contaminate the drinking water and create health issues such as birth defects, cancer and stunted brain development in children.

Instead of getting rid of regulations that help protect the atmosphere, water quality and people’s health to keep outdated forms of energy production alive, why wouldn’t we just go where the market is leading us — toward renewable energy sources?

Cutting back regulations and continuing to build these pipelines is costing us more in the long run, environmentally and economically.

Every time a pipeline spills, more money goes into the cleanup effort. As we continue to pollute the air with heavy metals from coal-fired power plants, more people will become ill and healthcare costs will rise. The Trump administration is only hurting the economy and environment more by trying to keep non-renewable energy sources alive. Even worse, they are hurting every citizen of this world.

The need to switch to renewable energy completely has never been greater and I cannot understand why America refuses to make that investment.

They would be investing in my future and the future of the next generations, and at this point, it is an investment we cannot afford to push off. Anyone who puts the short-term economy before preventing climate change from taking away homes and lives does not have their priorities in order

The science for renewable energy is there and it has been available to us for years now. It might not be ready to support the entire world immediately, but if we focused our efforts on that rather than rolling back regulations to further pollute the environment, then maybe it could be ready soon. 

One Comment

  1. The only two renewable energy sources that can serve as the foundation of an affordable and reliable power grid are nuclear and hydroelectric. Wind and solar can play ancillary roles, but they have too many technical drawbacks — for example, their intermittency — to do much more.