In the middle of the 20th century, America invested in a national power system. We did so because we understood that whatever new businesses would emerge, power was crucial to building our future. Today, affordable power remains a critical component for producing goods and services. But Washington is going in the wrong direction. It hands out massive tax breaks to energy companies that are among the most profitable corporations in the world, while people in Massachusetts and across the country pay the price.
The choice before us is simple. Will we continue to subsidize the dirty fossil fuels of the past, or will we transition to 21st century clean, renewable energy?
If we invest now in a 21st century energy system, over time we can lower the costs of production for all of our businesses. Right now, renewable energy competes with old energies that get lots of special breaks from Washington. We know that we can generate power with alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower. We also know that we can make energy usage far more efficient. If we commit ourselves to clean energy and energy efficiency now, in the long run we can reduce price swings and lower our overall costs.
For the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, protecting our natural treasures also benefits our tourism industry and those who depend on its strength. From the Cape to the Berkshires, hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the Commonwealth's beauty each year. We must protect our environment to support jobs and economic growth in the tourism industry.
Our commitment to 21st century energy has other benefits as well. As long as we subsidize dirty sources like oil, gas, and coal, we threaten the air we breathe and the water we drink. In Massachusetts, 1 in 10 people have asthma. Pollution is a serious public health challenge - and our children's well-being is at risk.
So long as we rely on oil and gas, we also threaten our national security. Reliance on oil and gas puts us at the mercy of OPEC. We are more likely to prop up foreign dictators or become entangled in wars that are about our energy needs rather than our long-term, strategic interests. And when we do wage war, we put our servicemen and women at risk: about 80% of convoys in Afghanistan are associated with fuel delivery, and there were 1,100 attacks on these convoys in 2010 alone.
Carbon-heavy fuels also intensify the risks of climate change. The science is unmistakable: Earth's climate is changing and human activities are contributing to climate change. Climate change endangers our health and national security, it threatens agricultural production and the availability of clean water, and it risks floods and droughts.
We know what we need to do. We have known what we've had to do since the 1970s. But powerful oil, gas and coal companies have blocked real change. We can't keep putting off the changes we need to make. Investing in clean energy technology is investing in our health, our environmental security, our national security, and our economic security.
The decisions we make now will affect the world we leave to our children and grandchildren in ways that go beyond our physical survival. Bruce and I are avid hikers. We love to walk any time of the year, in any weather, from the shore to the Berkshires. We believe that protecting these places of beauty is a moral duty we owe to the next generation of children and grandchildren.