Domenici Outlines America's Energy Challenges

Senator Proposes Solutions to Enhance Energy Security

February 28, 2008
04:44 PM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today delivered a major address on the Senate floor analyzing America’s energy challenges.  Tomorrow, the Senator will propose solutions for these challenges in part two of the speech.  (The complete text of his prepared remarks as they appear in the Congressional Record is attached).
            The Senator began by outlining America’s current situation, and progress that has been made so far:
Nuclear Power
“In the decade since my address at Harvard, we have changed the face of the debate on nuclear energy.  We did this by ensuring that it was framed in the context of how to advance nuclear energy, not whether we should… The clearest evidence of this shift in thinking came with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included loan guarantees, tax incentives, risk insurance, and an extension of the Price-Anderson Act Consider that today, there are 104 nuclear reactors in service around the nation.  Together, they displace the same amount of carbon dioxide as is emitted by nearly every passenger car on the road in America.  A future for nuclear power in this country will truly mean a brighter tomorrow.”
Energy Policy Act of 2005
“The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has already had a positive impact on the advancement of other energy resources as well.  The federal government has now approved seven new Liquefied Natural Gas terminals, which could bring an additional 15.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the U.S. marketplace.  As a result of that bill, enough wind-power has been brought on-line to power 2.5 million homes.  Along with much-needed electricity capacity, this new wind production has generated $16 billion in economic activity, created new green jobs across the country, and displaced 16 billion tons of carbon dioxide.”
Increased Domestic Production in the Gulf of Mexico
“In the following year, 2006, Congress picked up where it left off and passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.  Staring down a more than two decades-old moratorium that prevented the discovery of our nation’s deep sea resources – we acted.  By lifting a ban in the Gulf of Mexico, we allowed for the production of American resources in an area that covers more than 8 million acres…An estimated 1.26 billion barrels of oil and 5.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were made available as a result of the decision to open this area.  That is enough natural gas to heat and cool nearly six million homes for 15 years.”
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 
“With the enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, we will see a 40 percent increase in fuel economy by 2020, a savings of several billion barrels of oil, and 36 billion gallons of biofuels introduced into our fuel mix by 2022.  As a result of this new law, energy usage in federal buildings will be reduced by 30 percent, and six billion metric tons of carbon dioxide will be displaced by 2030.”
America’s Reliance on Foreign Oil
“In 2005, the United States consumed roughly 7.6 billion barrels of oil.  More than 60 percent of this supply came from abroad, and it came at a cost of $230 billionIt is too early to calculate how much money we will send overseas this year, but at our current pace, this number could surpass $400 billion. To put those numbers in perspective, it would cost less – $188 billion – to repair every structurally deficient bridge in America.  $230 billion per year is more than enough to provide healthcare, not only for every American child, but for every American.  It is 8  times more than the United States distributed in federal foreign aid in 2005, and enough to reduce that year’s federal deficit by nearly three-quarters.  In the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, $230 billion would have been enough to completely rebuild the Gulf Coast.  And, $230 billion is well beyond the cost of the economic growth package that the Congress just passed to get our nation’s economy back on track.:
The Risk to Our National Security
“The consequences of dependence on imported oil are not limited to our own borders, because the money we export for oil flows directly into the economies of foreign nations around the world…much of the world’s oil reserves are controlled by irrational, often unpredictable leaders.  The simple truth is this: in a world without spare production capacity, every major production loss, no matter where or why it occurs, is capable of boosting oil prices – and even short-term increases heighten the long-term costs to our nation…Many foreign leaders have already realized oil's value as a diplomatic weapon, and have used their reserves to establish diplomatic ties with growing energy consumers.  Such relationships legitimize the regimes in power and allow them to secure regional influence. 
Tomorrow, Senator Domenici will outline potential solutions to these challenges.  Highlights are below:
Congress Needs to Change Course
“Those of us in Congress continue to share a common goal – to reduce our dependence on foreign oil – but there are deep divisions over how to achieve it.  As a result, the Congressional Record continues to be filled with legislation that undermines our ability to move toward this goal… At the end of last year, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill...damaging provisions…were inserted and passed with little notice and no debate.  Among these provisions was a moratorium on oil shale development, which has the potential to delay the commercialization of one of America’s most promising resources…Another provision in that bill imposed new fees for domestic oil and gas permit processing, which will increase the cost of doing business for energy companies and ultimately heighten the cost of energy for American consumers… And yesterday, the House chose the unwise path of raising taxes on our domestic energy producers by $18 billion. 
Balanced Solutions
“A truly comprehensive energy policy will rely upon three types of initiatives: those that increase the responsible production of domestic energy; those that accelerate the research, development, and deployment of renewable and alternative sources of energy; and those that significantly enhance our nation’s ability to conserve energy.”
Increasing Domestic Production
“We must, without delay, produce more energy within our own borders…The good news is that we have the resources, the technology, and the support of most Americans.  The bad news is that so far, we have been unable to muster the political will – we cannot even build consensus to simply inventory these areas and gain an accurate assessment of our nation’s energy reserves… We must listen to the people of Alaska and open the Arctic Coastal Plain to responsible leasing for the exploration and production of oil and natural gas… Congress must also continue to open the Outer Continental Shelf…Equally important to increased domestic production will be measures to expedite the on-shore permitting process One of our best prospects is to advance the development of coal-to-liquid fuels.  As an alternative to oil, coal-to-liquid fuels have many merits: it will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants when compared to conventional fuels.”
Other Options Available to Us
“To help power the next generation of automobiles, we must seek to develop advanced batteries in this country… We should also increase the number of flex-fuel vehicles on the road, and the number of stations that offer blended fuels.  We should offer incentives to existing refineries, and encourage the expedited siting and construction of new ones, to reduce the amount of gasoline we import… We should reform New Source Review to allow efficiency improvements that do not increase emissions to be undertaken at plants in our existing power generation.”    
Facing Our Challenges
            “This is my final year in the United States Senate, as a representative of New Mexico and a member of the Energy Committee… But it is not just the end of my time in the Senate that approaches; the time to reduce our growing dependence on foreign oil is also upon us...It is my sincere hope that we will use this year and the future to work together on policies that will move us toward our energy security goals.  This will require us to set aside our differences and make difficult decisions.  It will require us to come to the table with open minds and positive intentions.  In an era defined by its bitter partisanship, this will not be easy.  But given the stakes – our national security, our economic strength, and our standing in the world – that is exactly what we must do.”