Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President's National Energy Policy; Republicans Object

Mar 30: President Obama delivered a lengthy speech at Georgetown University today outlining and clarifying the Administration's national energy policy. The President said in part:
    The President outlined what he called "a tumultuous time for the world" and said "the situation in the Middle East implicates our energy security.  The situation in Japan leads us to ask questions about our energy sources. . . In an economy that relies so heavily on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody -– workers, farmers, truck drivers, restaurant owners, students who are lucky enough to have a car.  (Laughter.)  Businesses see rising prices at the pump hurt their bottom line.  Families feel the pinch when they fill up their tank.  And for Americans that are already struggling to get by, a hike in gas prices really makes their lives that much harder.  It hurts. . .
    ". . .we have been down this road before. Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon.  I remember because I was in the middle of a presidential campaign. Working folks certainly remember because it hit a lot of people pretty hard.  And because we were at the height of political season, you had all kinds of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians -- they were waving their three-point plans for $2 a gallon gas. You remember that -- 'drill, baby, drill' -- and we were going through all that. And none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem. There was a lot of hue and cry, a lot of fulminating and hand-wringing, but nothing actually happened. . .
    "So here's the bottom line:  There are no quick fixes.  Anybody who tells you otherwise isn't telling you the truth. . . I'm proud of the historic progress that we've made over the last two years towards that goal, and we'll talk about that a little bit.  But I've got to be honest.  We've run into the same political gridlock, the same inertia that has held us back for decades. That has to change.  That has to change.  We cannot keep going from shock when gas prices go up to trance when they go back down -- we go back to doing the same things we've been doing until the next time there's a price spike, and then we're shocked again.  We can't rush to propose action when gas prices are high and then hit the snooze button when they fall again.  We can't keep on doing that. . .
    ". . .today, my administration is releasing a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that outlines a comprehensive national energy policy, one that we've been pursuing since the day I took office. And cutting our oil dependence by a third is part of that plan. . . I understand we've got a tight fiscal situation, so it's fair to ask how do we pay for government's investment in energy. And as we debate our national priorities and our budget in Congress, we're going to have to make some tough choices.  We're going to have to cut what we don't need to invest in what we do need. Unfortunately, some folks want to cut critical investments in clean energy.  They want to cut our research and development into new technologies.  They're shortchanging the resources necessary even to promptly issue new permits for offshore drilling. These cuts would eliminate thousands of private sector jobs. . .
    "So at moments like these, sacrificing these investments in research and development, in supporting clean energy technologies, that would weaken our energy economy and make us more dependent on oil.  That's not a game plan to win the future. That's a vision to keep us mired in the past.  I will not accept that outcome for the United States of America.  We are not going to do that. . .
    A White House fact sheet summarizing some of the key points in the President's speech indicates that in 2008, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day and the President's goal is that by 2025 -- a little over a decade from now -- we will have cut that by one-third. The strategy will include: (1) Expanding Safe and Responsible Domestic Oil and Gas Development and Production by Implementing critical safety reforms; Identifying underdeveloped resources; and Developing incentives for expedited development and production. (2) Securing Access to Diverse and Reliable Sources of Energy (3) Developing Alternatives to Oil, Including Biofuels and Natural Gas. (4) Cutting Costs at the Pump with More Efficient Cars and Trucks. (5) Leading by Example With the Federal Fleet.
    Additionally, the strategy calls for charting a path  towards cleaner sources of electricity and greater energy efficiency, and remaining on the cutting edge of clean energy technology by: (1) Creating Markets for Clean Energy (i.e. Clean Energy Standard (CES) of 80% by 2035); (2) Cutting Energy Bills through More Efficient Homes and Buildings; and (3) Staying on the Cutting Edge through Clean Energy Research and Development.
    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) issued a statement in response to President speech saying, "President Obama knows that the best formula for America's energy security is to subtract foreign oil from our energy mix and add better alternatives like fuel efficiency and clean energy technologies. In contrast to the know-nothing attitudes permeating Congress on climate change and clean energy, the President believes in American know-how to move our country away from dangerous and expensive sources of energy. Oil companies shouldn't be allowed to sit on drilling rights without producing, while drooling over the public land they don't yet lease. That's why the President is right to push the oil industry to drill on the tens of millions of acres they already possess, but aren't using, just as legislation I have introduced would do. I look forward to working with the Obama administration and my colleagues in Congress to enact the president's forward-looking energy policies."
    Even before the President delivered his speech on a national energy policy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was delivering a speech on the Senate floor saying, "Americans Want a Sensible Approach to Energy." He said, ". . .as we've frequently seen with this administration, what it says and what it does are often two very different things. So this morning, I'd like to discuss some of the things the administration has actually done when it comes to energy. Then I'd like to propose some things Republicans would do differently. It should go without saying that Americans are ready for action on this issue. With average gas prices approaching $4 a gallon in most parts of the country, growing uncertainty and unrest in the Middle East, and a jobs crisis here at home, Americans want the President to outline a serious plan today that will make us less dependent, not more, on foreign sources of oil, and which stimulates job creation here.
    "Unfortunately, what they've gotten instead are more of the same half-hearted proposals Democrats have trotted out every other time Americans get squeezed at the pump. Instead of facing the problem of higher energy prices head on, Democrats are once again paying lip service to these concerns with fake solutions that only aim to distract people from what they're really up to. . .
    "Tell a Democrat in Washington that gas prices are too high, and, as if on cue, they'll throw together a speech or a press conference to suggest that we open an underground oil reserve that was created to deal with calamities, not market pressures; they'll take you on a tour of some alternative car plant that promises to have one of its $100,000 prototypes to market 25 years down the road; or they'll quietly release some report to the media about how energy companies aren't working hard enough to extract oil -- while schizophrenically claiming American reserves are minuscule and that more production isn't the solution. . .
    "The idea here is to somehow blame energy companies for not producing enough energy on their own. What Democrats don't mention, however, is that a drilling lease is nothing more than an agreement with the government that a company has a right to explore for oil or gas in a certain area, not a guarantee that they'll find it. And they never see fit to mention that most of the area that could be leased is effectively off limits — thanks to the red tape factory Democrats operate here in Washington. And, honestly, are we really supposed to believe that the same administration that declared a blanket moratorium on all offshore drilling off the Gulf Coast, which chased away rigs and jobs to other countries, and which established new regulations that make getting a new drilling permit virtually impossible, now believes that energy companies aren't drilling enough?. . .
    "Initial news reports about the President's speech today mention that the administration is determined to derive 80% of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources — in the year 2035. And I'm sure we could generate a great deal of bipartisan support for much of what the President will call for, assuming it doesn't involve federal mandates. But what does any of this have to do with the crisis at hand? The guy who's trying to make ends meet wants to know what you're going to do for him today, not 24 years from now. But, of course, the administration doesn't have anything to say to that guy, because the administration's energy policy isn't really aimed at him. . .
    "Consider this: just three of the areas we could tap in Alaska are thought to hold enough oil to replace our crude imports from the Persian Gulf for nearly 65 years. So the problem isn't that we need to look elsewhere for our energy. The problem is that Democrats don't want us to use the energy we have. . . the crisis we face is immediate, and it requires immediate action. And that's why Republicans have come up with two concrete proposals that will have a positive practical effect, two things we can do to give Americans relief, job creators a reason to hire, and make all of us less dependent on foreign sources of oil. First, let's increase American energy production by cutting the red tape and opening up areas that the administration has either temporarily blocked, stalled, or closed off to production. And let's block any new regulations that will drive up production costs for energy --including the administration's proposed new EPA regulations on carbon emissions. . ."
    Access the full text of the President's speech (click here). Access a White House fact sheet on America's Energy Security (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Markey (click here). Access the floor speech and video from Senator McConnell (click here).
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