Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Republicans & Democrats Continue Chiding On Energy Issues

Jun 18: Opening the latest round of back and forth between Republicans and Democrats on energy issues, President Bush delivered a White House Rose Garden speech on energy. The sharp differences on national energy policy direction provide a continuation of the snarling that has occurred in recent days and weeks over actions on energy legislation [See WIMS 6/11/08] and a clear choice for voter this fall.

The President said, "High oil prices are at the root of high gasoline prices. And behind those prices is the basic law of supply and demand. In recent years, the world's demand for oil has grown dramatically. Meanwhile, the supply of oil has grown much more slowly. As a result, oil prices have risen sharply, and that increase has been reflected at American gasoline pumps. Now much of the oil consumed in America comes from abroad -- that's what's changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. Some of that energy comes from unstable regions and unfriendly regimes. This makes us more vulnerable to supply shocks and price spikes beyond our control -- and that puts both our economy and our security at risk.

"In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil. And that means we need to increase supply, especially here at home. So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production. Unfortunately, Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected virtually every proposal -- and now Americans are paying the price at the pump for this obstruction. Congress must face a hard reality: Unless Members are willing to accept gas prices at today's painful levels -- or even higher -- our nation must produce more oil. And we must start now. So this morning, I ask Democratic Congressional leaders to move forward with four steps to expand American oil and gasoline production."

President Bush outlined his four steps including: (1) Expand American oil production by increasing access to the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. (2) Expand oil production by tapping into the extraordinary potential of oil shale. (3) Expand American oil production by permitting exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR. (4) We need to expand and enhance our refining capacity.

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee issued a statement supporting the President's speech. Domenici said, "Today, President Bush identified America’s most pressing energy problem -- increased reliance on foreign oil due at least in part to a lack of supply at home. The President called on Congress to increase American production by lifting the ban on deep sea exploration, lifting the moratorium on oil shale development, permitting exploration in Alaska, and enhancing our refining capacity. The American Energy Production Act (S. 2958), which I introduced on May 1st, accomplishes each of these goals [See WIMS 5/2/08]. The bottom line is that Congress must bypass the political bickering, come together and stop the excuses. Even if we can’t agree on every proposal, I sincerely hope that the Majority will join us to find ways that we can increase American production.” On June 17, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain also called for expanded OCS drilling.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) issued a point-counterpoint statement in response to the President Bush’s proposals and saying, "Bush And McCain Still Don't Get It - We Cannot Drill Our Way Out Of This Energy Crisis." He said, “This week’s flip-flop on offshore oil drilling by President Bush and Senator John McCain is nothing more than a cynical campaign ploy that will do nothing to lower energy prices and represents another big giveaway to oil companies already making billions in profits.

“The facts are clear: Oil companies have already had ample opportunity to increase supply, but they have sat on their hands. They aren’t even using more than half of the public lands they already have leased for drilling [See WIMS 6/13/08]. And despite the huge tax breaks President Bush and Republican Congresses have given oil and gas companies to invest in refineries, domestic production has actually dropped.

“Despite what President Bush, John McCain and their friends in the oil industry claim, we cannot drill our way out of this problem. The math is simple: America has just three percent of the world’s oil reserves, but Americans use a quarter of its oil. And the Energy Information Administration says that even if we do open the coasts to oil drilling, prices wouldn’t drop until 2030. President Bush and John McCain are not serious about addressing gas prices. If they were, they would stop offering the same old ideas meant to pad the pockets of Big Oil and work with Democrats to reduce our dependence on oil, invest in the renewable energy sources, crack down on excessive speculation and stand up to countries colluding to shake down American consumers. Bush-McCain Republicans just don’t get it. Their commitment to the failed policies of yesterday is why we have energy, economic and national security crises today. They want to feed our addiction to oil; Democrats want to end it.” Reid included a fact sheet with his statement providing citations and details countering each of the President's proposals.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement in advance of the President speech saying, "The President's proposal sounds like another page from the Administration's Energy Policy that was literally written by the oil industry: give away more public resources to the very same oil companies that are sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands they've already leased. In just the last year, Congress has promoted energy independence by raising efficiency standards for vehicles for the first time in 32 years, investing in American-grown biofuels, and forcing President Bush to increase gas supplies by suspending government purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We have provided enforcement tools to go after those who are speculating on oil and manipulating the price and we will continue to push for solutions that end our dependence on foreign oil."

At 2:30 PM, June 17, the Senate voted again on a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H. R. 6049; the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 which failed to obtain the 60 votes necessary again by a mostly partyline vote of 52-44 (4 note voting). The bill was introduced by Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) on May 14, and passed the House on May 21, by a vote of 263-160. Speaker Pelosi issued a statement on the Senate vote saying,

"Senate Republicans blocked legislation that invests in the clean renewable energy that will put our nation on a path toward energy independence. It would also create hundreds of thousands of good-paying green jobs, spur American innovation, and cut taxes for millions of Americans. The number of people this legislation would help is significant: for example, 30 million homeowners would receive property tax relief; 13 million children would benefit from an expanded child tax credit; 11 million families would receive the state and local sales tax deduction; and hundreds of thousands of highly-paid jobs in the energy sector would be created and retained.

“Because this legislation is about our nation’s future, it is fiscally responsible. In order to invest in the energy policies and jobs of the future, it closes loopholes allowing corporations and executives to avoid paying certain taxes by shipping jobs and investment overseas. The New Direction Congress thinks we should focus tax benefits on creating jobs and encouraging investment here at home, and these revenue offsets have typically enjoyed strong bipartisan support. As gas prices soar, and unemployment numbers climb, Americans are looking to Congress for urgent help with their economic challenges. Senate Republicans could have worked with us to invest in the future and the ingenuity of the American people. Instead, they voted to let taxes on American families and businesses increase.”

Access the President's speech and a fact sheet (
click here). Access the statement from Senator Domenici (click here). Access legislative details for S. 2958 (click here). Access the statement and fact sheet from Senator Reid (click here). Access a release from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access the Senate roll call vote (click here). Access Speaker Pelosi's statement on the H.R. 6049 vote (click here). [*Energy]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

S.2958 is a golden opportunity to achieve lower gas prices, hundreds of thousands of new jobs and reduce our trade deficit and Government debt.

Both candidates seem reluctant to commit to an energy plan for fear of losing the "sandal and socks" vote. Here we have an opportunity to tell them what we think.

Go here to support S.2958: