Monday, September 15, 2008

Senate Leaders Speak Out At Energy Summit

Sep 12: At the Senate-Wide Energy Summit [See WIMS 9/11/08, & 9/12/08], both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressed their views on energy issues which will guide their parties in upcoming votes on energy bills expected very soon, perhaps this week.

Senate Majority Leader Reid said, “We have seen two diverging trends in the energy debate – one very encouraging, one less helpful. On one side, as the fall campaign heats up, we have seen energy move into a more partisan realm, with candidates looking to score points with sound bites that solve nothing. But on the other side, we are seeing an increasing consensus that when all the political dust settles, our energy challenges cannot fall victim to partisan bickering. “We see this encouraging trend toward bipartisanship in the Gang of 22 [outgrowth of the Gang of 10]. . .

"I think it’s important we all agree that a problem as big as this requires comprehensive solutions. In all the places where truth counts more than slogans, it is agreed that there is no single ‘magic bullet.’ We need to decrease our consumption of fossil fuels. We can conserve energy painlessly and cost-effectively by improving efficiency in household appliances and the ways we build new buildings. We also need to demand and expect better fuel efficiency from our automobiles. . . one part of the solution is the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentives Program.

“We need to hasten our transition away from oil. That means incentivizing the production of home-grown renewable alternatives. We also need to bring prices down for the oil we use. That means going after any speculator, price gouger or oil-producing nation who game or cheat the system and leave American consumers paying the bill. . . The transition from the fossil fuels of old to the renewable fuels of tomorrow can create jobs, protect our national security and cleanse our environment. . . "

Minority Leader McConnell said, "Republicans, I assure you, are open to any reasonable suggestion that will lead to a concrete, meaningful result. And it is with this in mind that Republicans have already coalesced around a simple and straightforward principle that we believe could and should form the basis of bipartisan legislation on this issue: we need to both find more American energy and use less.

“We know that we can ' find more ' domestic energy by means of deep sea exploration off our coasts and by developing Western oil shale deposits which, according to conservative estimates, represent at least 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. . . But it must be said at the outset that conservation alone is clearly insufficient. While all of us may envision a future in which America does not run on fossil fuels, this is not today’s reality. Nor will it be for many years to come. We need to be realistic and recognize that -- in the near term -- we will still need more oil and gas. And I believe that this oil and gas should come from America’s own ample domestic reserves -- not from the Middle East. We cannot, and should not, ask people like rural Kentuckians to assume the burden of this transition when we have enormous energy reserves under our own feet, reserves that the government has made increasingly difficult to tap. . .

“The American people are demanding that Congress do something to alleviate high gas prices, and to do something significant. Some of the proposals we have heard from the other side make an effort. But, by and large, they fall seriously short. They either ignore the need for increased domestic supply, or they’re disproportionally meager in light of the severity of the crisis. . . We have the resources. Americans want us to use them. And they are exactly right. . ."

Access the complete statement from Senator Reid (click here). Access the complete statement from Senator McConnell (click here). Access the Summit meeting website for links to all testimony and link to a 5 hour and 20 minute webcast (click here, testimony should be posted soon). [*Energy]