Clinton, Schumer, Reid and Rendell Underscore Critical Need for Energy Independence
Highlight Immediate Need to Increase Funding for Low Income Home Heating Assistance
New York, New York – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, joined by Senator Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Governor of Pennsylvania Edward Rendell, launched the Democrats’ “Energy Independence 2020″ plan, and kicked off a series of forums around the country to highlight the Democratic plan and spotlight innovative efforts underway to promote use of alternative energy sources that would be greatly accelerated under the Democratic plan. They called on President Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress to stop blocking Democratic efforts to provide $2.9 billion in additional funding for the Income Heating Assistance Program to help the millions of Americans who are struggling to meet record high costs for home heating this winter. A Senate Democratic Policy Committee report released at the event details the staggering cost of inaction on energy independence and the impact of skyrocketing energy prices on American families and businesses.
“We need to put America on the path to energy independence with policies that promote advanced energy technologies, not by subsidizing oil companies like the President’s energy plan does. We also have an urgent need to help millions of Americans who will face the highest heating bills they have ever seen this winter. Yet the President and the Republican leadership in Congress have stood in the way of our every attempt to increase heating assistance over the last few months. American people are counting on us to fully fund the heating assistance program before Congress adjourns for the holidays, and it is time for the President to stop blocking heating aid to seniors and low-income Americans,” said Senator Clinton.
“The record high prices we’ve seen this year for gasoline and home heating are proof positive that our current energy policy provides no real solutions for our energy future. While energy companies make record profits and we grow even more dependent on foreign oil, family budgets feel the pinch. The energy agenda we’re putting forward today gets serious about reducing our need for oil, using American innovation to develop new, clean sources of energy, and providing desperately needed relief to average Americans,” said Senator Schumer.
“Energy is critically important to America’s future and our national security. Democrats are going around the country to have an open, honest discussion about the best way to secure our energy future,” said Senator Reid. “Today, we’re launching our plan to make America Energy Independent by 2020 because we know that America can do better than an energy policy that only benefits special interests. Democrats want a fresh start and our plan will make America cleaner, greener and more secure,” said Senate Democratic Leader Reid.
“If the federal government follows the leadership of the states there would be many significant benefits, including less reliance on the Middle East and more on ‘Middle America.’ By changing how and where we spend energy dollars, we can create more jobs, increase domestic investment and make our nation safer,” Governor Rendell said. “What we are doing in Pennsylvania offers a vivid illustration of how our economy, our quality of life and our security can be improved by investing in America’s fuels.
“Today’s energy story in Pennsylvania provides a template for the nation,” Governor Rendell added. “Energy production, energy policy and energy politics are not new to Pennsylvania. Our experience over the last 150 years has taught us what energy can do for our economy when handled right and what it can do to our economy when mishandled.”
The DPC report released today drives home that increased energy costs are taking a toll on the American economy, businesses, consumers, and families. The bottom lines of businesses across the country, particularly the airline, trucking, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors, have been hit hard. Unfortunately, rather than taking action to improve conservation and lower prices, the Bush Administration has stood by and allowed energy prices and oil company profits to reach unprecedented levels.
Democrats believe the Federal government must do a better job of protecting consumers, businesses, and farmers burdened by today’s skyrocketing energy prices. We must also break our country’s dangerous reliance on foreign energy. With leadership and vision, we can help ensure low cost supplies of sustainable energy that will improve America’s security, reduce the burden on middle class families, and help clean our environment. Democrats have a strategy to make America energy independent by the year 2020 by reducing burdens on consumers and the environment, launching an Apollo Project for energy, diversifying and expanding our energy supplies, improving energy security and reducing price volatility, reducing demand for oil and natural gas, and investing in efficiency and American jobs.
Democrats will highlight this plan and discuss local energy concerns at a series of regional forums in January. Following on today’s Northeast kick-off, these events will include a Southern energy forum led by Senator Lincoln focusing on biofuels, a Northwest energy event led by Senator Cantwell, a Midwest forum led by Senator Durbin on household energy costs and Southwest events led by Senate Democratic Leader Reid and Senator Salazar focusing on renewable energy.
A Senate Democratic Policy Committee Report and the Democrats’ Energy Independence 2020 Agenda follow below:
Senate Democrats Making America Energy Independent by 2020
Senate Democrats want to make America energy independent by 2020 by improving energy security, generating jobs and economic growth, and protecting Americans from price spikes and price gouging.
Make America more secure
Improve energy and national security. Independence from foreign oil sources would save money and protect America. According to analysts, up to $50 billion in taxpayer money is being spent each year to protect the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. Better management of our strategic reserves of crude oil (and gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and heating oil) would reduce the impact of oil supply disruptions.
Send less money out of the country. Just in 2005, America will have sent more than $200 billion overseas to oil-producing nations to pay for petroleum products, including crude oil. Over the last five years, an average of $137 billion per year went to those countries. Investing that money here at home would have a huge impact on our balance of trade, the economy, and job creation.
Create new jobs and economic growth
Create a new energy industry, exports and jobs. An Apollo Project-like initiative to invest federal research and development dollars in advanced energy technology would create millions of new highly skilled, well-paid jobs. Improving energy science and technology education and training would make America the leader in energy efficient product manufacturing and exporting. Aggressive federal leadership in procuring very efficient and advanced alternative fuel vehicles and green buildings and products would help American companies innovate.
Develop a vibrant domestic biofuels and alternative fuels industry. A vibrant domestic biofuels and alternative fuels industry would create thousands of new jobs and stimulate investment in homegrown technologies. Greatly enhanced ethanol, biodiesel, and other biofuels production would help power vehicles, improve the economy in agricultural states, reduce the amount of solid waste, and decrease federal farm program costs. The small renewable fuel standard in law now will generate more than 200,000 jobs and displace more than $10 billion worth of crude oil. Improvements in infrastructure and electricity options and standards would encourage much greater use of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles.
Make energy more affordable for residential and manufacturing use. A national commitment to efficiency, renewably-generated electricity, and a massive investment in advanced energy technology would reduce consumers’ electricity and fuel bills by more than $60 billion per year in 2020. Extending energy efficiency and renewable incentives would lower the demand for natural gas and free up natural gas for other uses. Increasing weatherization assistance would save consumers more than one-fifth of their heating costs and save thousands of barrels of oil per day. Fuel-efficiency standards for tires would save nearly half a million barrels of oil per day in less than ten years. Smarter, more efficient and flexible electricity infrastructure would increase reliability and consumers’ options and ability to save or generate their own electricity.
Protect American families
Better protect consumers. More than seven million Americans would have better access to home heating and weatherization assistance in times of economic trouble. Strong and well-enforced federal price gouging laws would prevent oil companies from taking advantage of consumers. Accurate and accessible information on vehicle and appliance energy efficiency would help consumers save on energy bills
Create healthier communities and a cleaner environment. Significantly increased incentives for energy efficiency and renewables, and a national energy policy focused on rapidly developing and deploying climate-friendly domestic energy would reduce millions of tons of air pollution and greenhouse gases annually. Smart growth policies would make communities more livable, affordable, and safer.
The Cost of Inaction: The Impact of Skyrocketing Energy Prices on American Families and Businesses
Increased energy costs are taking a toll on the American economy, businesses, consumers, and families. The bottom lines of businesses across the country, particularly the airline, trucking, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors, have been hit hard. Unfortunately, rather than taking action to improve conservation and lower prices, the Bush Administration has stood by and allowed energy prices and oil company profits to reach unprecedented levels.
Home heating costs are rising
Heating costs have risen by $438, or 79 percent, since President Bush’s first full winter in the White House. The cost of heating fuels has skyrocketed, leaving American families unprepared to deal with unprecedented increases in heating bills. The cost of heating a home for the winter has increased by $438, or 79 percent, since the winter of 2001-2002.
Homes that heat with natural gas will see bills increase by 38 percent this year. Households that heat with natural gas are expected to pay an average of $282, or 38 percent, more this winter than last. Households that heat with heating oil can expect to pay an average of $255, or 21 percent, more this winter.
Transportation fuel costs are rising
Gasoline prices have risen by $.81 a gallon, or 56 percent, since President Bush took office. When Bush began his presidency in January 2001, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $1.44. Even before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the gulf coast, gasoline prices were steadily rising, averaging $2.48 in August 2005, an increase of 72 percent from January 2001.
Households with children are on track to spend $1,322 more on transportation fuels this year than when President Bush took office in 2001. The average household with children will spend about $3,225 on transportation fuel costs this year, an increase of 69 percent over 2001 costs.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed serious flaws in our energy policy. As gasoline prices spiked above $6 a gallon in parts of the South, Americans who needed to drive lined up at gas stations to buy what little gasoline was available.
Consumers and businesses suffer while Big Oil profits
Consumers have spent $3.5 billion on increased gas prices since 2001 while the top five oil companies made $32.8 billion in profits in the last three months. Oil industry profits have nearly tripled over the last three years to roughly $87 billion last year. In the first nine months of 2005, the five largest oil companies made $84 billion in profits, compared to a record $60 billion in the first nine months of 2004.
Farmers spending more on energy. In 2002, farmers spent $18.36 billion on energy for crop production. Increasing prices of natural gas, diesel, and gasoline raised those costs to approximately $46.4 billion in 2004.
Trucking industry’s operating expenses are skyrocketing. Diesel fuel accounts for one quarter of the trucking industry’s operating expense, or $85 billion in 2005. Each penny increase in diesel costs the trucking industry $350 million over a full year.
The future of the airline industry is in jeopardy. Airlines are expected to spend $30 billion on fuel alone this year, twice what they spent for fuel in 2003 and $9 billion more than 2004. Increased fuel costs have led two airlines to file for bankrupcy and others to increase ticket prices and cancel routes.
High energy prices hurt our economy
Causing inflation. Energy prices contributed to a dramatic increase in the Consumer Price Index in September. The 1.2 percent rise in consumer prices was the fastest rise in consumer prices in 25 years. Inflation in consumer prices is predicted to hit 3.9 percent this year, the highest rate since 1990.
Increasing our trade deficit. In August 2005, the U.S. trade deficit reached $59 billion, which is 1.4 percent higher than the previous month. According to the Department of Commerce, larger and more expensive imports of energy commodities are largely responsible for the increase in the trade deficit.
Losing jobs. On average, every time oil prices go up 10 percent, 150,000 Americans lose their jobs.
Energy prices are impacting key economic indicators. Leading economists noted after the release of monthly economic reports in September that energy prices are rising much faster than wages and becoming “increasingly difficult for consumers to absorb,” which has resulted in lower consumer spending.
Energy Independence 2020
Creating a cleaner, greener and more secure America
Democrats believe the Federal government must do a better job of protecting consumers, businesses, and farmers burdened by today’s skyrocketing energy prices. We must also break our country’s dangerous reliance on foreign energy. With leadership and vision, we can help ensure low cost supplies of sustainable energy that will improve America’s security, reduce the burden on middle class families, and help clean our environment. That’s why Democrats have a strategy to make America energy independent by the year 2020. We plan to:
Reduce Burdens on Consumers and the Environment
– Prevent oil company price gouging, market manipulation, and disaster profiteering
– Increase energy market transparency and consumer choice at the pump
– Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to cover increased household energy costs
– Provide car buyers with accurate fuel economy information
– Protect pristine public lands from short-sighted oil and gas exploitation
– Enhance funding for weatherization and low-income energy assistance in all climates
Launch an Apollo Project for Energy
– Free the US from foreign oil by 2020 by supporting research, development, and production of alternative energy sources..
Diversify and Expand Our Energy Supplies
– Establish a national electricity standard that requires greater use of renewable energy
– Enhance incentives for energy production from solar, wind, and geothermal
– Increase dramatically the production of domestically grown biofuels
– Increase environmentally friendly extraction of oil and gas from existing domestic sources
– Encourage construction of the Alaskan natural gas pipeline
– Support the development of a hydrogen economy
– Promote deployment of advanced clean coal technology with carbon capture and storage
Improve Energy Security and Reduce Price Volatility
– Create geographically diverse strategic gasoline and jet fuel reserves
– Streamline fuel specifications while maintaining state clean air protections
– Encourage the development of a smarter and more distributed electricity system
Reduce Demand for Oil and Natural Gas
– Lower petroleum use in the federal fleet and improve government conservation efforts
– Provide consumers with more fuel efficient vehicle choices
– Develop renewable substitutes to replace natural gas use in the petrochemical industry
– Improve infrastructure and electricity options for hybrids and plug-in hybrids
– Increase mass transit use and incentivize transit-oriented development
– Improve air traffic management to shorten flight times
– Reduce tractor trailer fuel needs by improving aerodynamics, logistics, and idling
Invest in Energy Efficiency and American Jobs
– Update efficiency standards for appliances and small engines
– Invest in math and science education for the next generation of energy engineers
– Ensure access to worker training and retraining in advanced energy technologies
– Leverage trade relationships to maintain competitiveness of energy-intensive U.S. manufacturers