Editor’s note: Gary Franks is writing this week’s column for the vacationing Robert Reich.



TODAY, THE UNITED States of America is being asked to stop using one of our God-given treasures: our natural resources that produce energy, the driving force to our economic engine. Who is asking us to do this? Countries led by European nations that do not have a significant number of energy-producing natural resources of their own.

America has been blessed with rich soil and natural resources that can produce a variety of foods and energy, respectively. We should be most thankful.

When I was in Congress, if they had been polled, I think many Americans would have held the belief that God determines the temperature for all parts of the world. Starting in 1997, with the Kyoto Protocol, a new industry/movement developed predicated on the claim that man can significantly and dramatically affect the temperature or weather.

Republicans do believe in science and protecting our environment. We all believe and understand that man can cause problems to our environment. Air pollution, smog, toxic landfills, oil spills and their environmental impact, fouled rivers and oceans, tainted drinking water, are all evidence of man-made problems that, to a degree, we have solved. But the other side, I would facetiously say, would probably profess that the floods that Noah had to deal with were caused by global warming. The parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of Gomorrah and I could go on, were all likely caused by man. They would be right to a degree. As a devout Christian, however, I would believe it has more to do with the acts of man toward his fellow man that caused those things to occur.

To not use the God-given resources that have helped to make our nation great and provided millions of jobs seems irrational. It would be like playing a game of cards and turning in all your aces because people and countries that lack aces have convinced you that aces are evil. The outcome? We lose if other countries fail to give up their aces.

Leaders from a couple of the biggest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, China and Russia, decided not to attend the latest big climate summit in Glasglow, Scotland. What message does that send? Without a truly dedicated China, Russia, India, Brazil and other large industrialize countries alongside the United States, the desired climate change objectives cannot be met.

The willingness to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to alter the nation’s economy is a huge gamble when you can neither control the actions of other countries nor establish an enforcement mechanism to penalize those countries that fail to develop and implement a realistic plan to get to net zero emissions by a certain date.

Since the signing of the Paris Accord in 2015, the grade the accord would likely get from objective observers of the first five years would be an F for failure. Yet, the Build Back Better plan would seek to spend a half-trillion dollars partially via corporate welfare spending toward the goal of fighting climate change by seeking to phase out fossil fuels and establish new means to produce much needed energy for Americans. We cannot forget the federally funded and botched $570 million renewable Solyndra energy investment made when Joe Biden was vice president.

During 2019 and ’20, America became a net energy exporter, but now, we are begging other nations for fossil fuels and crude oil as prices at the pump soar.

On energy, we should be all in. We should not try to destroy or kill our fossil fuels industries. We should implore them to do better as they have over the decades. They should continue to keep and increase nuclear and hydropower. We have been doing both for decades without the Build Back Better plan.

There are zero carbon emissions in nuclear energy. It is the largest source of clean power in the country and it already supplies more than half of the nation’s emission-free electricity. Here, too, we need to make improvements and keep their cost down while speeding up the construction of smaller nuclear-production systems.

We are America. We do not need to follow those whose agendas may not be in accord with promoting America’s greatness. Lastly, we must not give China or any other nation any competitive advantage. We are not so good that we can win with one hand tied behind our backs. We are No. 1 in the world in the production of energy and nothing should be allowed to remove us from that position.



Gary Franks served three terms as U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District. He was the first Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years and New England’s first Black member of the House. He is the host of the “We Speak Frankly” podcast and author of “With God, For God and For Country.”