February 28, 2000
Since the 1970’s, the organized Jewish community has consistently supported federal policies and programs to reduce U.S. consumption of fossil fuels. The United States’ historic and increasing reliance on fossil fuels compromises our national security by creating dependence upon oil-producing nations; causes and exacerbates illness for millions of our citizens; and degrades our environment – through acid rain, global warming, and the destruction of natural areas.
For 25 years, the organized American Jewish community has unanimously advocated action to reduce our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. We advocated investment to accelerate the development of new technologies when they were largely underdeveloped. We urged action to reduce fossil fuel use before climate change was confirmed. We supported the development of public transit before many Americans spent hours each day in traffic.
Despite decades of advocacy Congressional inaction has prevented progress. In 1999, the average fuel economy of all new passenger vehicles was at its lowest point since 1980, while fuel consumption was at its highest. American vehicle manufacturers lag in bringing new auto technologies to market. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the highest per capita in the world, are rising steadily. We have made almost no progress in 20 years.
We stand at the beginning of a new century. The vast majority of scientists and policy experts agree that if dramatic action is not taken soon, it is very likely that human well-being and global geo-political stability in the 21st century will be gravely affected by global climate change. Aggressive development of environmentally friendly technologies and products will create U.S. jobs, enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global economy, and demonstrate U.S. leadership toward a sustainable energy future for the entire planet.
We have a solemn obligation to do whatever we can within reason both to prevent harm to current and future generations and to preserve the integrity of the creation with which we have been entrusted. Not to do so when we have the technological capacity—as we do in the case of non-fossil fuel energy and transportation technologies—is an unforgivable abdication of our responsibility.
Therefore, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) calls upon Congress and the Administration to move toward the creation of a clean and sustainable energy system for the U.S. that will diminish U.S. reliance on imported oil and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, smog-forming compounds, and pre-cursors to acid rain