Senate Democrats

DEMOCRATS ANNOUNCE SWEEPING NEW ENERGY LEGISLATION

The Clean EDGE Act will help make America energy independent by 2020

Washington, DC — For five years, Bush Republicans in Washington have let energy companies write America’s energy policies. Now, oil men in the White House have given the American people sky-high gas prices and a nation addicted to oil. It is time for a real change, and Senate Democrats today unveiled sweeping new legislation to take charge of America’s energy future. The plan, the Clean EDGE Act of 2006, is a comprehensive bill that will put America on the road to energy independence by 2020. The Senators also released a letter to President Bush signed by 43 Senate Democrats calling on the president to join Democrats in support of the five main principles of the Clean EDGE Act to break America’s dependence on foreign oil.

The American people know that the policies of the past have given this country the energy crisis of the present. Democrats are committed to jump-starting the energy policies of the future, and the Clean EDGE Act calls for a major investment in the research, development, and production of the alternative energy vehicles, fuels, and technologies that will break our nation’s addiction to foreign oil. The bill will launch an aggressive effort to increase the number of alternative fuel vehicles sold; protect consumers from gas price gouging and market manipulation; reduce our dependence on fossil fuels; put the Federal government in the lead in reducing our dependence on foreign oil; and level the playing field for new renewable and energy efficient technologies.

“The Clean EDGE Act is a major step forward on America’s path to energy independence,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “Our nation’s energy problem is not new. It has taken years of failed policies to get us to the present crisis. Fortunately, Democrats have a comprehensive solution. With this bill, and under our leadership, America will be energy independent by 2020.”

“We have a chance – maybe our last chance – to do two things: move seriously toward the goal of energy independence before our economy stalls and to begin to reverse the environmental damage that threatens our way of life,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin. “The Democrats believe it is time for leadership – time for a new direction – time for an energy policy that serves our economy and saves our environment.”

“The United States today is nearly sixty percent dependent on foreign oil. Americans cannot afford that dependency – and Democrats won’t accept it,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, the lead sponsor of the new bill. “I’d rather invest in American ingenuity than rely on the future goodwill of Middle East regimes. It’s time that we simply stop talking about energy independence and start running with a plan that also makes America more secure and more economically competitive. The Democratic Caucus is united today behind our plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent in 2020. We are going to make America more secure and more competitive and were getting started today.”

Senator Chuck Schumer said, “Last year President Bush and the Republicans in Congress passed an Energy Bill that was nothing more than a grab bag of goodies for energy companies. What it left us with was $3.00 a gallon gasoline and more dependence on foreign oil. Under the GOP’s plan, the big oil companies fill their pockets every time Americans fill their gas tanks. Today Democrats are putting forward a plan that offers new consumer protections, new sources of clean energy, and new opportunities for innovation that will succeed where their old ideas have failed.”

“America faces many challenges on the energy front, from the challenge of soaring prices to security challenges and environmental challenges. Congress needs to pass a comprehensive and aggressive energy competitiveness package, and that’s what we are presenting here today,” said Senator Max Baucus. “I am pleased that a version of my proposed ARPA-E – the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy – is included. America can innovate its way out of the energy box we are now in, if we’re willing to launch this kind of Manhattan Project for energy research.”

“Just look at the skyrocketing gas prices. It’s clearer than ever that we need an energy policy that puts people ahead of big oil,” Senator John Kerry said. “Oil companies don’t need more tax breaks – and they’ve said so themselves. We need to end these giveaways, so we can invest in an energy plan that ends our dependence on foreign oil and eases the burden on American families. It’s time to put our families and our future first.”

“America urgently needs to achieve energy independence,” Senator Byron Dorgan said. “This legislation provides a solid plan for getting there. I’m convinced that, if it is enacted, generations to come will see it as landmark legislation that opened the door to national energy security.”

Said Senator Thomas Carper, “The reason gas prices are high today is because we haven’t taken the steps necessary to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our country energy independent. We can’t afford to let the next 20 years look like the last 20 years. That’s why it’s imperative that we have to take action today to invest more heavily in renewable fuels, increase our production and development of alternative-fuel vehicles and develop new sources of energy. If we do that, 20 years from now, we’ll be celebrating our energy independence instead of higher gas prices.”

“If we had remained focused on energy independence since the Arab Oil Embargo, more than 30 years ago, we would not be caught in this crisis today,” Senator Salazar added. “Unless we develop and stick to the cause of energy independence, we will continue to place our national security in jeopardy and suffer from current price peaks to a greater and greater extent, more and more frequently, over the next 30 years. It is time for Congress to get real and get to work.”

The Senators were joined at the event by John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, which also announced its own energy independence campaign. The nonpartisan institute released a new video narrated by Robert Redford and a website to promote the progressive policies that will make America energy independent.

“We know our country can no longer sustain its dependence on oil for energy,” said Podesta at the announcement. “It’s a dependence that threatens our national security; fuels poverty around the world; pollutes our environment; and burdens our national budget–as well as the budgets of millions of hardworking Americans. We must chart a cleaner, alternative energy future. KickTheOilHabit.org is not only an important tool to connect our country’s citizens, activists, and policymakers, but it will spur them to start shaping that future today.”

This new legislation is the latest in EI2020, the campaign to make America energy independent that Democrats announced last October. Democrats believe that skyrocketing gas prices and the national security risk of America’s oil addiction make an immediate campaign for energy independence all the more important. With the nation’s security at risk, it is time for a new direction and the Clean EDGE Act.

The Senators’ letter to President Bush and a fact sheet on the new legislation are attached following this release.

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The Clean EDGE Act of 2006

Democrats want to give America the edge by moving in a new direction. Senate Democrats’ Clean Energy Development for a Growing Economy (Clean EDGE) initiative will help transform America’s energy policy, to meet one the most pressing national security, economic, and environmental challenges of our generation. Democrats understand–and our nation’s history demonstrates–that America can rise to the occasion. Making energy independence a truly national effort takes a bold plan, leaders with resolve and a shared sense of commitment among individual citizens. Like the Manhattan and the Apollo projects that have come before, the Clean EDGE initiative begins with an aggressive goal: to reduce U.S. petroleum consumption by 6 million barrels a day in 2020–or 40 percent of America’s projected imports. By clearing the pathways to innovation, investing in our workers and infrastructure, and providing American consumers with broader, more responsible choices, the Clean EDGE initiative will provide the tools to help move America forward, toward real energy security for the 21st Century.

TRANSFORMING AMERICA’S VEHICLES & INFRASTRUCTURE

- Flex-Fuel Vehicles: The Clean EDGE Act accelerates the conversion of American vehicles to flexible fuel technology. The legislation mandates that 25 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2010 be flex-fuel capable, rising to 50 percent by 2020. Flexible fuel vehicles can run on higher blends of biofuels, which helps displace petroleum and provide competition at the gas pump.

- Accelerating Infrastructure Conversion: A major barrier to using flex fuel vehicles to reduce petroleum consumption is the lack of refueling stations that provide biofuels. The Clean EDGE Act sets a national goal of installing alternative fuels at 10 percent of American gas stations by 2015. To help achieve it, the legislation will provide additional tools to individual retailers, along with support to local governments that partner with private industry to establish alternative refueling corridors in different parts of the country. In order to break the oil industry’s lock on the gas pump, it also requires major integrated oil companies that own refueling stations to install alternative fuel pumps.

- Hybrids and Advanced Vehicle Technology: The Clean EDGE Act will accelerate and extend incentives to purchase and manufacture vehicles that rely on advanced fuel efficiency technologies.

PROTECTING AMERICAN CONSUMERS & BUSINESSES

- Preventing Gas Price Gouging and Increasing Transparency in the Oil and Gas Industry. The Clean EDGE Act makes gas price-gouging a Federal crime, enhances Federal authority to prevent and prosecute manipulation of fuel supplies and anti-competitive behavior, and increases the transparency of petroleum markets.

- Energy Price Relief for Low-Income Americans: The Clean EDGE Act will provide additional assistance to Americans struggling under the weight of rising energy costs, by providing flexibility in Food Stamp and Section 8 Public Housing requirements, and a refundable tax credit to LIHEAP-eligible households to help cover residential energy costs.

- Energy Emergency Loans for Farmers and Small Businesses: Volatile prices place an extra burden on businesses that operate close to the margin. The Clean EDGE Act creates disaster loan assistance through the Small Business Administration and USDA, for small businesses and farmers trying to cope with rising energy costs.

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD FOR CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

- Ending Giveaways to Big Oil. The Clean EDGE Act will revoke subsidies for profit-rich, major oil companies, and make sure they pay their fair share in royalties owed to American taxpayers for drilling on public lands and in federal waters.

- Providing Certainty to Emerging Technologies: Rather than subsidizing the mature petroleum industry, the Clean EDGE Act will use these savings to provide greater certainty for clean energy development, by extending incentives for renewable energy and efficiency technologies.

REAL GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP FOR CLEAN AND SECURE ENERGY

- A Serious Federal Commitment: The federal government is the single largest energy consumer in America. The Clean EDGE Act requires the Federal government reduce its petroleum consumption by 20 percent in five years and 40 percent by 2020, increase its renewable electricity use to 10 percent of total consumption by 2013, and employ advanced, efficient, and renewable technology to help drive innovation and jumpstart markets.

- Innovative New Tools for States: The Clean EDGE Act provides enhanced bond issuing authority to states and local governments, for projects to reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, to develop non-petroleum fuels, invest in efficient vehicles, alternative infrastructure and transit.

DIVERSIFYING AMERICAN ENERGY SOURCES, INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

- Renewable Electricity. To help reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Clean EDGE Act sets a national renewable portfolio standard requiring that 10 percent of all electricity produced in the country come from renewable sources by 2020.

- ARPA-E. The Clean EDGE Act will create an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) to develop cutting-edge technologies that will reduce oil consumption, improve electricity efficiency and reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

- Investing in American Jobs and Industry. The Clean EDGE Act will create a clean energy investment administration to help deploy new, on-the-ground solutions. It will also invest in education programs to develop a skilled domestic workforce in advanced energy technologies.

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May 17, 2006

The President

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to reiterate our belief that America’s dependence on oil is one of the greatest economic and national security challenges faced by our generation. The status quo is simply not an option. The cost of our dependence on oil is being borne by families, farmers and businesses across America. In the words of Energy Secretary Bodman, it has become a “crisis” for our nation’s consumers. Recent events must serve as a long-overdue wake-up call, to spur real action that sets our nation on the path toward energy independence.

It is crucial that the United States sets a national goal and embarks on a serious strategy to reduce our dependence on petroleum, equivalent to 40 percent of our projected imports by 2020. We are united around a set of core principles that can help America achieve this goal, and believe we must act expeditiously to put this nation on the right track. We stand ready to work with your Administration and Congressional Republicans to pass legislation reflecting these principles before the summer recess. Specifically:

· The United States must launch an aggressive effort designed to ensure that an increasing number of new vehicles sold in America can run on alternative fuels, starting with 25 percent in 2010. In order for this to make a real difference in reducing our dependence on oil, this effort must be paired with a bold initiative to make smart investments in American infrastructure and promote real competition at the gas pump.

· The United States must ensure that our consumers are protected from gasoline price gouging and energy market manipulation.

· The United States must lessen its reliance on fossil fuels in general and take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, by diversifying sources of electric generation to include a greater percentage of renewable resources.

· The United States government–our nation’s single largest energy consumer–must help lead this transition, by adopting the best available fuel efficiency and alternative vehicle technologies. The federal fleet should reduce its petroleum consumption by 20 percent over the next five years, and save at least 40 percent by 2020.

· The United States must level the playing field for new renewable and energy efficiency technologies. We can provide incentives for consumers and manufacturers to accelerate the market for these technologies and the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles, by ensuring major oil companies pay their fair share in taxes and royalties owed to the American public.

We are willing to work with you to consider additional constructive approaches to breaking America’s oil addiction. However, we believe these five principles reflect significant steps that we can take in coming weeks to put our nation on the path toward greater energy security. By relying on American ingenuity and investing in our nation’s workforce and infrastructure, we can curb the tremendous volatility in energy prices that is draining family budgets today, and looms as a growing threat to our national security and international competitiveness.

We look forward to working with you on these consensus principles, which will spur the kind of innovation and investment America needs to secure its energy future for the 21st Century.

Sincerely,

Daniel Akaka (D – HI)

Max Baucus (D – MT)

Evan Bayh (D – IN)

Joseph Biden (D – DE)

Jeff Bingaman (D – NM)

Barbara Boxer (D – CA)

Maria Cantwell (D – WA)

Thomas Carper (D – DE)

Hillary Clinton (D – NY)

Kent Conrad (D – ND)

Mark Dayton (D – MN)

Christopher Dodd (D – CT)

Byron Dorgan (D – ND)

Richard Durbin (D – IL)

Russell Feingold (D – WI)

Dianne Feinstein (D – CA)

Tom Harkin (D – IA)

Daniel Inouye (D – HI)

Jim Jeffords (I – VT)

Tim Johnson (D – SD)

Edward Kennedy (D – MA)

John Kerry (D – MA)

Herb Kohl (D – WI)

Mary Landrieu (D – LA)

Frank Lautenberg (D – NJ)

Patrick Leahy (D – VT)

Carl Levin (D – MI)

Joseph Lieberman (D – CT)

Blanche Lincoln (D – AR)

Robert Menendez (D – NJ)

Barbara Mikulski (D – MD)

Patty Murray (D – WA)

Ben Nelson (D – NE)

Bill Nelson (D – FL)

Barack Obama (D – IL)

Mark Pryor (D – AR)

Jack Reed (D – RI)

Harry Reid (D – NV)

Ken Salazar (D – CO)

Paul Sarbanes (D – MD)

Charles Schumer (D – NY)

Debbie Stabenow (D – MI)

Ron Wyden (D – OR)

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