Yesterday we wrote about whether or not we, as a country, could question our own values. This was not so much a political argument as a societal one. While both parties seem ideologically entrenched, our society evolves. Will that evolution bring about a change in political direction? We must do more than hope.

On our off-day, I wanted to pass along an op-ed by Thomas Friedman, one of our favorite columnists, called "How the G.O.P. Goes Green." As a registered member of the G.O.P. (other members of Strong Towns are registered members of other political parties - we are non-partisan as an organization), I found some of the thoughts compelling. That is, compelling in the same way we wrote last year about branding New Urbanism for small towns. There is a lot of common ground out there based on values we all share.

The article is essentially an interview with Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina, with some Friedman logic sprinkled in. A good read that we recommend not waiting until Friday for.

So Graham’s approach to bringing around his conservative state has been simple: avoid talking about “climate change,” which many on the right don’t believe. Instead, frame our energy challenge as a need to “clean up carbon pollution,” to “become energy independent” and to “create more good jobs and new industries for South Carolinians.” He proposes “putting a price on carbon,” starting with a very focused carbon tax, as opposed to an economywide cap-and-trade system, so as to spur both consumers and industries to invest in and buy new clean energy products. He includes nuclear energy, and insists on permitting more offshore drilling for oil and gas to give us more domestic sources, as we bridge to a new clean energy economy.

“Cap-and-trade as we know it is dead, but the issue of cleaning up the air and energy independence should not die — and you will never have energy independence without pricing carbon,” Graham argues. “The technology doesn’t make sense until you price carbon. Nuclear power is a bet on cleaner air. Wind and solar is a bet on cleaner air. You make those bets assuming that cleaning the air will become more profitable than leaving the air dirty, and the only way it will be so is if the government puts some sticks on the table — not just carrots. The future economy of America and the jobs of the future are going to be tied to cleaning up the air, and in the process of cleaning up the air this country becomes energy independent and our national security is greatly enhanced.”

Remember, he adds: “We are more dependent on foreign oil today than after 9/11. That is political malpractice, and every member of Congress is responsible.”


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