Senate Democrats

Reid: Democrats’ Energy Independence Legislation Will Protect Consumers, National Security, Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada made the following statement today in response to President Bush’s remarks:

“Democrats are committed to achieving greater energy independence – an issue this Administration and past Republican Congresses have failed to adequately address. In the coming weeks, we will move forward with bipartisan legislation that will increase the production of clean renewable fuels, improve energy efficiency, punish gas price gougers and support research on greenhouse gas capture and storage.

“Six years ago this week, the Bush-Cheney secret task force made up of oil and energy company lobbyists released its report on the nation’s energy policy. Since then, the Administration has rolled back environmental regulations, ignored climate change and under-funded the energy research budget. Meanwhile, our oil dependency and consumption have grown, harming our national security and leaving America vulnerable to price shocks and supply disruptions.

“After six years of putting the interests of the oil industry ahead of our national and economic security, we hope the President is finally getting serious about energy. His announcement today was mainly about organizing the bureaucracy, but if he brings forward proposals that make legal, economic and environmental sense, we will work with him as we legislate. In the meantime, I hope the President will work to make the Federal government’s own energy and environmental performance better.”

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FACT CHECK: President Bush on Energy

President Bush Promoted His “20 in 10″ Proposal. “To help achieve all these priorities I set an ambitious goal in my State of the Union, to cut America’s gasoline usage by 20% over the next ten years. I call this goal 20 in 10 and I have sent to congress a proposal that would meet it in two steps. First, this proposal would set a mandatory fuel standard that requires 35 billion gallons of renewable and other alternative fuels by 2017. That’s nearly five times the current target. Second, the proposal would continue our efforts to increase fuel efficiency. My administration has twice increased fuel economy standards for light trucks. Together these reforms would save billions of gallons of fuel and reduce net green house gas emissions, without compromising jobs or safety.” [Remarks, 5/14/07]

  • FACT: America Has Become More Dependent on Foreign Oil Since Bush Became President. America imported 60 percent of its oil in 2006, and Americans spent $291 billion in 2006 on oil and petroleum product imports. Americans sent $111 billion to OPEC countries for imports of crude oil. Petroleum made up about one third of the total trade deficit. [U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services December 2006, Exhibit 17 and Supplement Exhibit 3, 2/13/07; EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2007]
  • FACT: Bush’s Proposal Won’t Fix the Problem. Even if the President’s proposal is implemented in full, the country will still be significantly over-dependent on oil — over 55% of oil will still be imported.
  • FACT:The President’s 2008 Budget Cut Funds for Vehicle Technology. DOE vehicle technologies research and development would be cut by $2.3 million, from $178.4 million appropriated in 2006 to $176.1 million in Fiscal Year 2008. [President Bush’s FY2008 Budget]
  • FACT:Bush’s Plan May Not Beat Market Innovations. The oil savings that might be obtained by the President’s proposal may be less than the expected savings from the projected increases in new vehicle fuel economy due to market-driven increases in the sale of unconventional vehicle technologies, such as flex-fuel, hybrid, and diesel vehicles, and a slowdown in the growth of new light truck sales. [DOE – Annual Energy Outlook 2006]
  • FACT: The President’s Plan Doesn’t Go as Far as Previous Democratic Initiatives. The President’s plan reduces consumption 3-4 million barrels per day less than Democrats proposed in an amendment defeated by the White House and Senate Republicans during the energy bill debate in 2005. [Cantwell Amdt 784 to HR6]

President Bush Says He Wants To Cut Gas Consumption and Emissions. “So today I’m directing the EPA and the Department of Transportation, Energy and Agriculture, to take the first steps toward regulations that would cut gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for motor vehicles using my 20 in 10 plan as a starting point.” [Remarks, 5/14/07]

  • FACT: Increasing Emissions Made 2006 Warmest Year on Record in the Continental United States, Capping an “Unprecedented Nine-Year Warming Streak.” “Last year was the warmest in the continental United States in the past 112 years — capping a nine-year warming streak ‘unprecedented in the historical record’ that was driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, the government reported yesterday… Average temperatures nationwide in 2006 were 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the mean temperatures nationwide for the 20th century, the agency [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] said.” [Washington Post, 1/10/07]
  • FACT: The President’s Climate Policy Is Not Working. The EPA recently touted a rise of greenhouse gas emissions of 0.8 percent from 2004-2005 as progress. The Bush Administration often touts its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emission intensity by 18 percent between 2002 and 2012. Under this goal, the Administration admits that actual emissions will continue to increase. They are projected to grow by 14.2 percent during that time period. The EIA has attributed the relatively small rise in greenhouse gas emissions between 2004 and 2005 not to Administration voluntary programs but to “higher energy prices that suppressed demand, low or negative growth of several energy-intensive industries, and weather-related disruptions in the energy infrastructure across the Gulf Coast.” [EPA testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, 4/24/07; Senate Commerce Committee, 7/11/02; GAO 04-146R; EIA “Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2005″, p. 13]
  • FACT: The President’s 2008 Budget Cuts Investment in Energy Efficiency. DOE energy efficiency and conservation programs would be cut by $112 million. Funding for building technologies would increase by $18 million, but funding would be cut for weatherization and intergovernmental activities, industrial technologies, and federal energy management. [President Bush’s FY2008 Budget]
  • FACT: The President’s 2008 Budget Does Not Do Enough to Support Renewable Energy. DOE renewable energy programs would be increased by $131 million over 2006 appropriated levels, but funding for hydropower and geothermal would be eliminated. The budget would not extend the Production Tax Credit or the Solar Investment Tax Credit beyond their current expiration date in 2008. [President Bush’s FY2008 Budget]
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