Letters to the Editor: Use the Defense Production Act to fight climate change and punish Russia

President Biden speaks about further sanctions against Russia over its attack on Ukraine at the White House on March 11.
President Biden speaks about further sanctions against Russia over its attack on Ukraine at the White House on March 11.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

To the editor: Kudos to The Times Editorial Board for affirming that the best way President Biden can respond to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s murderous aggression is by accelerating renewable energy and ending our dependence on fossil fuels.

As my organization has described, Biden can confront the Ukraine crisis and energy price spikes by using his authority under the Defense Production Act. That would allow him not only to deploy energy-efficient heat pumps for European allies, but also to ramp up domestic manufacturing and deployment of solar, wind and energy-efficiency technologies on a wartime footing in the U.S. and around the world.

This plan would alleviate the atlas of human suffering caused by the climate crisis, create jobs, help people save money on energy and undermine the power of petro-states such as Russia. In fact, more than 200 organizations have called on Biden to do just this, with a priority on climate-vulnerable communities.


We hope the president will listen.

Maya Golden-Krasner, Los Angeles

The writer is deputy director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.


To the editor: Your editorial page rightly argues that we “need to accelerate renewable energy and hasten the end of fossil fuels.” However, efforts to combat climate change must include a muscular public engagement component.

Look at the public response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines were developed at warp speed; the problem was that large numbers of people refused to be vaccinated and refused to do the other things that would stop the virus’ spread, such as wearing a mask or social distancing.

Unscrupulous politicians exploited the public’s unease by politicizing the state’s response to the virus: They said Sacramento was the problem, not the virus. This resulted in countless unnecessary hospitalizations and deaths.

We need to raise the public’s comfort level with the drastic changes needed to combat climate change. People need to be convinced that a future in which they live sustainably and their cars, houses and lawn mowers run on electricity will not mean a decline in their quality of life.

Otherwise, there is going to be a political backlash that will undo these vitally necessary policies.

Fred Smoller, Orange

The writer is an associate professor of political science at Chapman University and the co-founder of the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon.


To the editor: Americans are exposed to a wide variety of media that puts the sights and sounds of wars, genocides, students murdered in classrooms, terrorism, pandemics and so much more right in front of us.

To soothe and adjust, some turn to substance abuse, some shout during family gatherings, some organize and attend protest rallies, some plead with government leaders and some pray. Most try to shield their children.

Many turn away, unwilling to speak of or consider the tragic events that are not on their doorstep.

If you look out your door and don’t see, feel or hear it, you might downplay or deny the connection of climate change to the extended droughts, famine, severe storms, disappearing shorelines and ravaging fires that are killing life on Earth.

But what are you willing to do when the consequences of an Earth warmed by burning fossil fuels and exacerbated by your own use of oil and gas are there when you do open that door?

Kathleen Brown, Santa Clarita


To the editor: It seems to me that I read a similar editorial almost 50 years ago during the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo, about the pitfalls of our reliance on fossil fuels.

The circumstances and players are different, but the end result is essentially the same, and now more than ever we we can add the threat of climate change.

We have the necessary technology. We now need our politicians to look past politics as usual and come together to put us on a rapid path to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. As the editorial accurately states, “Everything should be on the table in pursuit of this goal.”

Joe Grauman, Los Angeles


To the editor: Oil prices are going up. Energy is a national security issue. The United States subsidizes oil companies, which are making huge profits.

These are all facts that do not add up to a sensible plan. Add the massive threat that climate change poses, and this business as usual “plan” is outrageously stupid.

As the war in Ukraine has aptly shown us, we need to be able to have abundant energy without being beholden to antidemocratic despots.

The clean energy transition is upon us, and we need to fully and rapidly embrace this reality. Many tools are necessary to adapt. Putting a price on carbon would be an excellent mechanism to encourage using less fossil fuels and further innovate the devices that we need to ensure clean energy is always available.

Drilling and building more pipelines take time and take us backward. Oil helped get us into the mess we are in; it is not the answer to get us out.

Melissa Waters, Laguna Niguel