Bingaman on SOTU Energy Initiatives

January 23, 2007
05:51 PM
“America’s roadmap to energy security needs aggressive goals, such as the ones laid out yesterday by the Senate Energy Committee Democrats. We will have to take a close look at the President’s gasoline-specific goals to see if they are sufficiently ambitious, given where technology related to fuels supply and increased fuel efficiency can take us in the future.  We also need to find out whether there is real meat behind the numbers that the President is mentioning tonight.  For example, to make a successful major push on renewable and alternative fuels, we will have to make real investments in our fuels infrastructure nationwide.  We have yet to learn whether the President’s detailed proposals will take these infrastructure needs into account or not.
“The President’s proposal will be part of the mix when the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources takes a comprehensive look at biofuels on February 1.  Senator Domenici and I will be leading an all-day bipartisan conference on that day to examine ways to accelerate U.S. biofuels diversity.  We will hear from experts and relevant stakeholders who will tell us how home-grown, biologically derived fuels can best be blended into our Nation’s transportation fuel mix.  After that conference, we’ll have a better feel for whether the President’s plan on renewables and alternative fuels has all the elements needed for success.
“With respect to CAFE – another crucial topic with regards to America’s energy security -- our committee will be taking a close look on January 30 at how to transform our transportation sector by advancing fuel efficiency technologies.  Again, once we’ve heard from the experts, we will better understand the challenges to and incentives for reducing gasoline use.
“We also will be examining President Bush’s proposal to double the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.   I’d like to learn how this can get done and what its effect will be on the price that Americans pay for gasoline.  Plus, I’ll want to better understand the Administration’s policies on when it actually uses the SPR.  On February 7, at the Energy Committee’s budget oversight hearing for the Department of Energy, I’ll ask Secretary Bodman about this, as well as whether the President will put forth the budgets needed to match the rhetoric in his speech tonight.
“Finally, I am disappointed at two big energy policy holes in what the President will be announcing.  First, Senate Democrats would like to see a real push on renewable energy and energy efficiency across the board, and particularly in how we generate and use electricity.  The President’s speech is completely silent on these broader goals, which are crucial to protecting American jobs for the future.  Second, I am disappointed that the President is not really saying much on addressing global warming in a comprehensive way.  There is a great desire across the country -- including from leading American companies -- for Presidential leadership on this important issue.  By essentially ducking the issue of taking a mandatory, economy-wide approach to the problem, the President has missed a real opportunity.”
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