41 Senators Press GOP Leadership on Energy

July 20, 2006
03:29 PM
What do Americans care about when it comes to energy?
Americans want action to keep energy affordable, now and for the long term.  Americans want a broader range of energy choices, including renewable energy, based on new technologies.  And Americans don’t want to see the President and the Congress using their energy concerns as an excuse to give away billions of dollars to the big special interests.
Senate Democrats have offered a series of smart, pro-consumer policies to help put America firmly on the path to energy independence.  These ideas put America’s technological know-how to work to give us a secure, clean and affordable energy future.  They are aimed at making America the world leader in areas like solar, wind and biofuels.  The public overwhelmingly wants Congress to take actions to combat price gouging, to get to the next generation of fuels and vehicles, and to put America’s technological strength to work to provide clean, affordable energy.  Regrettably, Senate Republican Leadership won’t move forward on ideas like these that would address the real energy challenges facing Americans this summer and win us a better energy and economic future.  
Very little time is left in this legislative year.  Swift action and real leadership are needed to help our economy, strengthen our national security and protect our environment.  That’s precisely the message that Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), joined by 40 other senators, delivered today in this letter to Majority Leader Bill Frist.  As the Senate considers the few remaining bills in this Congress, Democrats will be looking for ways to turn their future-oriented energy agenda into legislative action.
July 20, 2006
The Honorable William H. Frist
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.  20510
Dear Majority Leader Frist:
Energy prices continue to be of great concern to Americans -- record fuel prices and growing supply volatility and unreliability are hurting consumers and the economy.  Substantial and comprehensive changes to the nation’s energy policy continue to be needed to improve our national security, promote economic growth, and protect consumers and the environment. 
As you may be aware, approximately 100 energy-related bills and amendments have been introduced in the Senate since passage of last year’s energy bill, by Senators of both parties.  These include a number of significant proposals to improve the nation’s energy policy that have been sponsored by numerous members of our caucus (for example, S.2829, the Clean EDGE Act of 2006), as well as a number of groundbreaking bipartisan proposals (for example, S.2025, the Vehicles and Fuels Choices for American Security Act, S.2747, the Enhanced Energy Security Act of 2006, or S.2677, the Securing America’s Energy Independence Act).  As many of us noted in a letter to the President on May 17, 2006, we are eager to work to increase America’s energy security and independence.
The Senate can still accomplish significant energy policy changes this year, if it avoids getting bogged down in lengthy, unproductive debates on divisive issues, such as rolling back the environmental standards that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.  We believe this effort should begin with a set of core principles that can help America achieve forward-looking energy goals, and that can be embraced by Senators in both parties.  We think that the following points summarize those core principles, and we stand ready to work with you to pass legislation that would reflect these principles:
  • The Senate should take as its starting point the setting of a firm and actionable national goal to reduce our overall national dependence on petroleum, coupled with a serious strategy for achieving this goal.  We believe that the President correctly observed last January that “America is addicted to oil,” and that we need to work both to diversify our supplies of liquid fuels as well as to promote strong efficiency gains in our uses of petroleum, across the U.S. economy.  Our suggested goal would be to reduce our dependence on petroleum by an amount equivalent to 40 percent of our projected level of imports by 2020. 
  • As part of reducing our national dependence on petroleum, the United States must launch an aggressive effort designed to ensure that an increasing number of new vehicles sold in America can run on alternative fuels, starting with 25 percent in 2010. In order for this to make a real difference in reducing our dependence on oil, this effort must be paired with a bold initiative to make smart investments in American infrastructure and promote real competition at the gas pump.
  • The United States government—our nation’s single largest energy consumer—must help lead the transition to lower petroleum dependence, by adopting the best available fuel efficiency and alternative vehicle technologies. The federal fleet should reduce its petroleum consumption by 20 percent over the next five years, and save at least 40 percent by 2020.
  • In the nearer term, the United States must ensure that our consumers are protected from gasoline price gouging and energy market manipulation.  Numerous bills have been introduced on this topic – it is time for them to be acted upon.
  • The United States must level the playing field for new renewable and energy efficiency technologies. We can provide incentives for consumers and manufacturers to accelerate the market for these technologies and the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles, by ensuring major oil companies pay their fair share in taxes and royalties owed to the American public.
  • The United States must recognize that our future energy policy and climate policy are inextricably linked.  The United States must start taking steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions in any new energy bill, including diversifying sources of electric generation to include a greater percentage of renewable resources.  Proposals for increased use of alternative fuels must also reflect an assessment of the total systems greenhouse gas impact of producing and using those fuels.
  • Finally, new energy proposals that affect spending or revenues must be fiscally responsible and take into account the true long-term impact of those proposals.
We believe all of these goals can be achieved in a way that makes energy more affordable and reliable for America’s families, farmers, and businesses.  We hope that you will choose to work with us to provide all Americans with a cleaner and more secure energy future.
Bingaman          Cantwell          Lieberman          Reid          Wyden          Reed          Obama          Menendez          Mikulski          Feingold
 Schumer          Byrd          Dorgan          Sarbanes          Kohl          Stabenow          Salazar          Dodd          Bayh          Clinton          Leahy
Kerry          Biden          Levin          Jeffords          Dayton          Murray          Durbin          Boxer 
         Rockefeller         Kennedy        Johnson   Bill Nelson    
Akaka          Harkin          Lautenberg          Inouye          Pryor          Carper          Lincoln          Landrieu
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