Friday, January 05, 2007

Senate Dems Sets Stage On Energy & Climate Change

Jan 5: In a floor statement regarding the National Energy and Environment Security Act of 2007, the new Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), set the stage for the energy and climate change debate of the 110th Congress. The bill was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and is cosponsored by Senator Bingaman and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Bingaman said, "I'm pleased to cosponsor S. 6, the National Energy and Environment Security Act of 2007. This is a message bill that Sen. Reid introduced earlier today. It lays out a number of important goals that will guide our thinking and our action on energy-related matters, including the issue of global warming, in the 110th Congress.

Bingaman outlined five key goals of the bill: (1) to reduce our dependence on foreign and unsustainable energy sources; (2) to reduce exposure to the risks of global warming; (3) to diversify and expand our use of secure, efficient and environmentally friendly energy supplies and technologies; (4) to reduce the burdens on consumers of rising energy prices; and (5) to eliminate tax giveaways and prevent energy price gouging and manipulation.

Bingaman indicated, “All of this is a tall order for Congress. I would predict that instead of seeing just one big energy bill, we will be addressing these issues through multiple bills that move through the Senate as issues and proposals for addressing these issues become ripe for action. In the Senate we will not make much progress on energy or environment unless we can develop a strong bipartisan approach on the issues. The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has a strong tradition of bipartisan accomplishment that I plan on continuing in this new Congress. I look forward to working with my colleague, Sen. Pete Domenici, and all members of the committee as we forge an effective path forward to promote our energy and energy-related environmental security.”

In a lengthy speech announcing a number of legislative initiatives, Majority Leader Reid said, "This year, the Senate will work full weeks, with votes on Monday and Friday... The extra time will give our committees the time they need to put their expertise to use for our country. The best legislation -- with the broadest possible support -- always comes from our Committees. Senator Bingaman has scheduled a full Committee hearing, Wednesday, January 10, to receive testimony on the global oil balance and its implications for U.S. economic and national security. Specific witnesses have not yet been announced.

Specifically, on the S. 6 bill, Reid said, "For too long, our country’s energy policy has had only one concern: oil company profits. We’ve allowed Exxon’s bottom-line to take priority over families struggling at the gas pump and the harmful effects of global warming. In an effort to begin to solve the energy crisis, our sixth bill will take an aggressive approach to reducing America’s dependence on oil, especially foreign oil, and putting more advanced technologies in the hands of consumers. It will boost production of electricity from solar, geothermal and other renewable sources that are abundant in states like Nevada, and grow the nation’s renewable energy technology jobs and manufacturing base. Freeing ourselves from Oil, particularly from unstable regimes, is a tremendous challenge, but it’s one we cannot afford to ignore."

In a related matter, the Brookings Institute scholars offer a variety of publications and commentary on energy, transportation, and environmental issues, as well as pertinent policy recommendations. According to the Institute, the rise of China and India as major global economic powers, the continued growth in U.S. energy demand, and instability in key oil-exporting regions are dramatically affecting international energy markets. These dynamics have implications for the global balance of power, as energy security is becoming an increasingly important factor in countries' national security and economic development calculations. The series of papers include discussions of energy matters in China, India, Japan, The Russian Federation and the Middle East.

In yet another related matter, the December 26, 2006 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) contained an article entitled, The Iranian petroleum crisis and United States national security. According to the article, the U.S. case against Iran is based on Iran's "deceptions regarding nuclear weapons development. This case is buttressed by assertions that a state so petroleum-rich cannot need nuclear power to preserve exports, as Iran claims. The U.S. infers, therefore, that Iran's entire nuclear technology program must pertain to weapons development. However, some industry analysts project an Irani oil export decline... If such a decline is occurring, Iran's claim to need nuclear power could be genuine. Because Iran's government relies on monopoly proceeds from oil exports for most revenue, it could become politically vulnerable if exports decline. Here, we survey the political economy of Irani petroleum for evidence of this decline."

Access the statement from Senator Bingaman (
click here). Access available legislative details for S. 6 (click here). Access the statement from Senator Reid (click here). Access the hearing website for the energy security hearing (click here). Access the policy papers from the Brookings Institute on energy security (click here). Access the PNAS article (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]