As gas prices skyrocket, green energy groups see an opportunity for rapid change

Green energy groups urge Americans to turn clean to escape future oil crises

As gas prices continue to soar and the U.S. public feels the heat on their budgets, green energy groups see an opportunity to accelerate popular support for a transition from fossil fuels.

The green energy movement has found a new wind after the devastating global effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the international economy, pointing to the relationship between overseas oil, conflict and gas markets at home. 

Clean energy groups told Fox News Digital that polling shows Americans are opening more and more to petroleum alternatives, and made their messaging clear – Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression is a clear example of weaknesses in the current energy infrastructure.


"We know that the majority of people in the U.S. want to see the government take action on climate and invest in clean energy technology," Matthew Davis, League of Conservation Voters’ senior director of government affairs, told Fox News Digital. "That was the case before the unlawful, horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine and remains the case today – Pew Research’s March 1 poll found that 69% of American adults favor developing renewable energy, including wind and solar, over increasing production of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas."  

"The energy crisis that has transpired as a result of Putin’s invasion and the unavoidable realization of what funds his immoral aggression are sobering reminders of why we must end our addiction to fossil fuels," Davis continued. "Whether it is destructive climate-change fueled extreme weather events or unreasonably high gas prices that drive up costs for families, U.S. reliance on polluting fossil fuels is devastating communities across the U.S. and it is past time to transition to clean, affordable, renewable energy."

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Gas prices, all over the $5 per gallon mark, are displayed at a gas station in Rancho Cordova, California, on March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli / AP Newsroom)

Emphasis on connecting gas prices to the violence in Ukraine is a recurring theme in post-invasion green messaging, with many advocates stressing that long-term application of alternative energy plans would help decouple the U.S. from international conflicts and give foreign affairs officials more leverage and autonomy.

"We've seen a major surge in public and political opinion recognizing that the only real long-term solution to conflicts like the fossil-fueled war in Ukraine is to get off fossil fuels entirely. Only by decoupling our economy from the volatile commodities of oil and gas will we be free of autocrats like Putin wielding control of the world's energy supply," said Collin Rees, the U.S. program manager at Oil Change International.


However, skeptics of the green energy movement remain unconvinced that the industry has enough strength or output to overturn oil's supremacy worldwide.

"Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, ‘green’ energy was not ready for prime time. It remains significantly more expensive and inferior to energy provided by fossil fuels and nuclear power. There is no chance that green energy can alleviate the current energy crisis. If anything, current events are cementing in people’s minds the vital importance of fossil fuels to our standard of living and economy," said Steve Milloy, a former Trump EPA transition member.

"Pretty simple math shows that the U.S. could stop emitting today and forever, and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations 100 years from now would be insignificantly different. Society will only abandon fossil fuels when there are superior alternatives. That time is not on the horizon," Milloy said.

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Cattle graze on a pasture while a wind turbine stands in the distance in Reading, Kansas, on April 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

"Energy should be reliable, abundant and affordable. None of these descriptors can be used in reference to wind and solar. The only reliable, abundant and affordable energy is derived from coal, oil and natural gas," said Gregory Wrightstone, executive director of The CO2 Coalition. "The recent run up in gasoline prices have shown the American public that we need more lands opened for development and more wells drilled, not fewer. Renewables constitute less than 5% of energy production in the U.S. and physics tells us that they are incapable of producing the volumes needed to replace fossil fuels."

Despite the objections, green advocates remain firm on the importance of clean energy, even in the short-term.

"Congress and President Biden could enact a tax on the war profiteering of the greedy oil and gas executives and rebate half the funds to working-class families across the country and focus the rest on supporting deployment of clean energy and innovative technologies," said Davis. "This situation will only continue to repeat itself until we secure real, affordable and safe energy independence by speeding up the production of cheaper, cleaner energy and technologies – like wind and solar and energy storage and electric vehicles – here in the U.S. so we are insulated from foreign supply chain disruptions and conflicts overseas. It’s important to note that opening up more U.S. lands and waters to drilling will do nothing to lower costs – we can’t drill our way out of high gas prices."

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Vehicles wait in line to refuel at a Costco gas station in Seattle, Washington, on March 9, 2022. (Chona Kasinger/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

A total move from gas and oil to a renewable energy economy is still in the far future, but groups say there are still measures that would benefit the American public now.


"Boosting production of renewable energy technology would take time, although it would take less time and have fewer negative consequences than boosting oil and gas production and further locking in fossil fuel dependency," said Rees.

"One of the single most important things Biden and Congress can do in the immediate term is institute a windfall profits tax to combat Big Oil's deadly profiteering, which is causing sky-high prices to hurt lower- and middle-class Americans. By taxing these excess profits and returning that money to American consumers, we can provide relief to those who need it most and disincentivize big oil and gas companies from raking in obscene profits."