Senate Democrats

Harry Reid: How the U.S. should fuel its prosperity

The following op-ed piece written by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was published in the Dallas Morning News today:

Dems’ plan puts national interests ahead of oil firm profits

In the six years since President Bush took office, the cost to fill up a car in America has more than doubled. In May alone, as we entered the summer travel season, gas prices broke records nationally and in nearly half the states.

Even though Democrats have raised the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, rising fuel costs still take too much out of Americans’ paychecks; their effects are felt long after we pull out of the gas station. High prices hinder our nation’s economic growth: They echo in the job market, increase our trade deficit and hurt businesses large and small. And our dependence on oil, especially foreign oil, endangers our national security and jeopardizes our environment.

Our current path is undeniably unsustainable: America produces just 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves but consumes nearly half its gasoline. Democrats recognize that we have a historic opportunity and responsibility to correct this course, and we have a plan to do just that.

For too long, the Bush administration has made it a priority to give tax breaks to oil and gas companies even as prices at the pump and corporate profits have soared. Democrats have different priorities. Our strategy puts consumers, our economy, our national security and our environment ahead of historic profits.

The plan that Democrats introduced in the U.S. Senate recently will help Americans spend less on gasoline every year and takes major steps forward to cut our oil consumption. Our bill will:

•Mandate the production of clean, renewable fuels here at home, which will create thousands of American jobs.

•Raise the fuel-efficiency standards for new cars and trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

•Set new energy-efficiency standards for lighting, appliances and federal office buildings and vehicles.

•Protect consumers by punishing companies that price-gouge consumers or manipulate gas supply to pad their profits.

•Fund promising new technologies that make our air and water cleaner.

•Give us more leverage in the global energy market by requiring the president to step up diplomatic efforts to build strategic international partnerships.

America’s energy and national security increasingly overlap. Each day that we continue to rely on Middle East energy is one more day we remain vulnerable to that region’s volatility.

Our search for solutions must begin at home, powered by American-made ingenuity and innovation. But the impacts of our oil addiction do not stop at our borders; they reverberate around the planet and in the atmosphere that surrounds it. The Democratic plan will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, curb the risks of global warming and more than quadruple the amount of biofuels we use to run our cars and heat our homes.

The cleaner our power sources, the fewer pollutants we send into our environment and the easier our communities and our children breathe.

Nothing but our own resolve stands between us and a clean, affordable and secure energy future. America is home to bountiful renewable-energy resources, and we already possess the cutting-edge technology and inventive spirit to boost our fuel efficiency and fully realize this potential.

Capturing just one week of the sunshine in my home state of Nevada could provide enough energy to power every car and truck in the United States for a year. And there is enough geothermal energy in our country to run our economy emissions-free for more than 2,600 years.

All we need to do is corral the political will to seize this opportunity and pass this important legislation. Instead of relying on unstable regions of the world to fuel our country, it is time to tap America’s can-do spirit and revive our proud record of innovating to confront challenges. We must recognize that our dangerous dependence on oil is an urgent national priority and harness the resources and technology already at our fingertips.

Our plan will save money and create jobs in a new clean-energy economy, make America safer and start to put a freeze on global warming emissions.