Last year, I became aware of a conservative political organization called “Energy Makes America Great,” which advocates continued dependence on fossil fuels. According to founder Marita Noon, it is an advocacy group “with a name that is a message.” In other words, it’s not our hardworking citizens, our values, our laws, our democracy, our landscape, our culture, our faiths, our liberty, our Constitution, our innovative scientists, engineers, and inventors, our war heros, our forefathers, or our artists that make our nation great. According to Ms. Noon, we owe our greatness to the coal, oil and gas that we blast, drill, frack, dig up, remove from mountaintops, and burn (unsurprisingly, sustainable energy and renewables are not part of the portfolio promoted by this pressure group).
Even though she has no scientific background, Ms. Noon is convinced that scientists are wrong and is a passionate denier of human-caused global warming and outspoken Climategate conspiracy theorist. In order to promote the polluting fossil fuel industry, she has taken a strident anti-science position, comparing scientists to “cornered rats.” She defends the discredited Heartland Institute, which famously made a connection between scientists and mass murderers in its disastrous billboard campaign. But her belief that America’s greatness as attributable to dirty fossil energy, not it’s people, is what I find most irksome.
Last month, I spent a week with my daughter in our nation’s capital, where there are no monuments to energy. We admired the tallest structure in Washington, which is named after the father of our country. Ms. Noon might be surprised and disappointed that it is shaped like an obelisk, not a gushing oil rig. We visited the famous memorials to Lincoln and to Thomas Jefferson, a scientist and scholar who wrote the document we are celebrating today. We also visited the newer ones paying tribute Martin Luther King and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We spent time at the World War II and Vietnam memorials, and the Tomb of the Unknowns, honoring those who lost their lives defending our nation and keeping us free. We paid our respects to the Americans who died in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon. It doesn’t take much reflection on this holiday to understand the reason we honor Americans, not fossil fuels, with our sacred national memorials and monuments.
No Ms. Noon, it is not energy that makes America great. Americans make America great.