Clean energy conservatives can embrace

Washington Post logo2 This recent Washington Post article delves into how and why certain environmental issues are conservative issues. Conservatives like Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon gave us the National Parks and Environmental Protection Agency, respectively. Murdoch encourages continued conservative support of clean energy to produce a bipartisan agreement on climate legislation based on values that conservatives, independents, and Democrats can all support.

Posted Dec. 4, 2009
By James Murdoch, Washington Post

Conservatives champion the essential characteristics of America:
liberty, enterprise and ingenuity. As world leaders consider how to
transform the way we make and use energy in the face of a changing
climate, it's time for an energy policy true to that spirit — and it
shouldn't be anathema to the American right.

Conservatives have a robust tradition of principled concern for the environment. It was, after all, Teddy Roosevelt
who created five national parks and signed the Antiquities Act. It was
Richard Nixon who established the Environmental Protection Agency, and
George H.W. Bush who ushered in one of the greatest environmental
success stories, the 1990 cap-and-trade plan to take on acid rain.

Today, Americans of all political persuasions want to see their
country on a path toward an economy powered by energy that is clean,
safe, secure and stable. With climate legislation pending and a binding
global treaty being negotiated, conservative leadership is critical
because the only way to get the job done is with broad bipartisan
agreement.

How can they do it? By establishing a Red-Blue-Green agenda on whose
principles conservatives, Democrats and independents can all agree.
Which Americans would argue against energy that meets the following
principles:

Freedom from national insecurity. The Western world's
dependence on oil means transferring billions of dollars to nations
whose interests are at odds with democratic ideals. This makes for
geopolitical instability and forces the United States to compromise its
role as a beacon of freedom just to secure traditional fuels.

A return to economic strength. Ultimately, the question
is: Which countries will lead the world to a clean-energy future — and
reap the benefits? The United States is already falling behind. It has
lost its dominance in solar manufacturing and ranks 22nd in energy
efficiency. The Chinese market for clean tech is forecast to grow to as much as $1 trillion per year. America cannot afford to cede new markets and the jobs they create without even trying.

New employment, with lower long-term costs. Much of the
U.S. debate focuses on the short-term costs associated with the
transition to a clean-energy economy without considering its long-term
benefits or calculating the costs of continuing business as usual. The
wave of innovations around clean energy will not only create new
industries and jobs but also allow businesses to have increasingly
efficient — and therefore more profitable — operations.

Cleaner, healthier communities. Republicans once played a
leading role in cleaning up our air and water, and conservatives of all
stripes should champion that role again. The manufacturing booms that
built cities such as Detroit and Cleveland left environmental
degradation in their wake. Good climate legislation will bring jobs
back to hard-hit areas, but this time factories will not pollute the
groundwater or make the air unsafe to breathe.

Competition trumps regulation. A sensible clean-energy
policy should free, rather than constrain, markets. Smart policy
corrects market failures and provides certainty, stimulating investment
in the technology and infrastructure necessary to build an economy
based on clean energy. Washington must ensure that such investment will
be rewarded. The government shouldn't "pick winners" — it should
unleash competition, ensuring that the cleanest businesses thrive and
the dirtiest are held accountable. A well-crafted federal law to limit
pollution is better than unfettered regulation by the EPA or
ever-changing regulation by the states.

The seeds of these opportunities have already been planted. And
companies that have taken the lead are prospering. At News Corporation,
we have saved millions by becoming more energy-efficient, overhauling a
range of systems from the production of such shows as "American Idol"
and "24" to energy usage in our buildings around the world. This has
yielded savings that help us invest more in talent and has inspired us
to look for further opportunities to improve.

You do not need to believe that all climate science is settled or
every prediction or model is perfect to understand the benefits of
limiting pollution and transforming our energy policies — as a
gradually declining cap on carbon pollution would do. This is the
moment to champion policies that yield new industries, healthy
competition, cleaner air and water, freedom from petroleum politics and
reduced costs for businesses.

Through market-based incentives we can achieve clean energy at the
lowest cost and with the strongest incentives for innovation —
ensuring that the energy solution will help, not harm, the economy.
Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) get this and are working
across party lines to build support for new legislation. Previously
conservation-minded conservatives are missing in the heated
partisanship of today's politics. It's time they found their voice
again.

The writer is chairman and chief executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation.

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