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Congress examines energy as a national security threat

America's vulnerability to foreign energy supplies is clearly a top national security concern, which explains why two House subcommittees will convene a joint hearing Tuesday to discuss "Energy as a Weapon: Implications for U.S. Policy," while over in the Senate, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is also conducting hearings on "Energy Security and Oil Dependence." Later in the week the House and Senate energy and technology subcommittees will hold hearings on alternative energy solutions to America's dependence on foreign oil.

Congress, however, should not weigh these issues in isolation. Indeed, Congress should consider not just the economic and political ramifications of our nation's dependence on foreign oil but also the clear dangers posed by global climate change. The Center for American Progress' Resources for Global Growth program examines in detail the inter-relationships between energy independence and national security once the U.S. moves full force towards developing safe, clean, and affordable energy that also helps protect the environment.

Furthermore, the program highlights how our national security can be further enhanced by linking U.S. agricultural competitiveness through the development of alternative energies with global economic growth. Farmers in the United States are struggling to compete in today's global marketplace, while an uneven international playing field in agriculture keeps millions of small scale producers in the developing world mired in poverty. At the same time, ongoing U.S. dependence on oil carries tremendous costs to our economic well-being, agricultural production, national security, environment, and our changing climate.

In order to make progress on strengthening U.S. agriculture, reducing U.S. dependence on oil, and extending the benefits of trade to producers at home and abroad, America must begin to reinvest its resources away from policies that encourage agricultural overproduction and low prices for farmers, and towards enlisting agriculture in the development of renewable energy to meet rising demand while forcefully addressing climate change.

The United States must redouble its efforts to support the research, development, and deployment of a robust and ambitious bio-based fuels and products program. Increased federal government and private sector investment in the conversion of crops and agricultural waste to fuel has the potential to pay farmers twice and boost rural economies, while providing the country with an immediate, domestically sustainable, low carbon fuel alternative to oil. The result would shift our resources away from less competitive trade distorting commodities, promote global economic growth and development, foster innovation and jobs in rural communities, and diversify our energy supply in a manner that will lead to a cleaner, more secure energy future.

For more detail on these and other policy proposals in this arena from the Center for American Progress, please see:

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