Senate Democrats

Reid: Senate Republicans Must Not Squander Historical Opportunity To Reform Energy Policy

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate before voting for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to strengthen America’s energy independence, national security and economy.  Below are his statements as prepared for delivery:

“Moments from now, we will have the opportunity to take a vote that history will mark.  Those who listen to speeches on the Senate floor are no strangers to superlatives.  Words like ‘landmark’ and ‘historic’ are often used, but occasionally appropriate.  They certainly are now.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will finally put America on track to solve our grave and growing energy crisis, and no superlative is too strong to express how important this is for our country’s future.

“Today, America consumes 21 million barrels every single day, most of it from unstable regions of the world.  That’s one billion American dollars going overseas – every day – to pay for our oil addiction.  Those 21 million barrels we will use today – and the 21 million-plus barrels more we’ll use tomorrow – has created a three-pronged crisis: It threatens our economy, our national security and our environment.

“Back in June, the Senate took action to begin reversing these threats.  We passed the Energy Bill with a bipartisan 65 vote majority.  The House has just sent their version to us with another strong majority.  Now, I urge all of my colleagues to concur with the House bill and send this critical legislation to the President.

“With gas prices well above $3 per gallon, and working Americans spending more than ever just to make their commute to work, the time to act is now.  With home heating prices at record highs and the cold winter months now upon us, the time to act is now.  With the threat of global warming growing by the day, the time to act is now.

“This energy bill tackles each of these challenges by addressing both sides of the crisis: consumption and supply.  On the consumption side, it increases the fuel efficiency of cars and tucks for the first time in 30 years – to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.  Think about that.  Thirty years ago, cars didn’t come with airbags, they were just getting cassette players and the closest thing to a GPS system came from Rand McNally.  Today, we have hybrid-electric cars, ethanol cars, and electric cars.

“This increase will save American families up to $1,000 per year at the pump, for a total of $22 billion in savings in 2020.  And it will also reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of taking 28 million cars and trucks off the road.  This increase from 35 miles per gallon is supported by both the environmental community and the automobile industry. 

“Environmentalists support it because it’ll make our air cleaner and take one step in the long road to stem the tide of global warming.  The auto industry supports it because they know it can be done, and they are ready to lead the world in automobile innovation once again.  It also saves Americans hundreds of billions of dollars through new energy efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings.  If one washing machine consumes 40 gallons of water and another does as good a job with 10, we ought to save those 30 gallons.  If one light bulb lasts as long as three, we ought to save that electricity.  It’s common sense.

“But consumption is just half the battle.  On the supply side, this energy bill requires for the first time that 15 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources.  What’s more, this Renewable Electricity Portfolio rewards innovation by allowing States like Nevada – which have already taken the initiative and are national leaders in renewable electricity – to sell their excess product to other states.  It makes an unprecedented commitment to American-grown biofuels by increasing the renewable fuels standard to 36 billion gallons by 2022 – which will not just reduce our addiction to oil, but create American jobs as well.  And it repeals billions and billions of dollars in tax giveaways to big oil that exports product from overseas and invests it instead in tax incentives to produce clean, renewable energy right here at home.

“All across America, businesses, entrepreneurs and local governments are taking the lead to solve this energy crisis.  In California, a professor is working on a new technology that can manufacture fuel out of simple plant material in any industrial park in America.  In Pennsylvania, Amish farmers are charging their buggy batteries with solar power.  In Nevada, local governments are using solar energy at water pumping stations to move water uphill – something that in the past would have required tremendous non-renewable power.  That kind of innovation is exactly what America does best.

“But as of right now, the federal government is lagging, not leading.  This must change, and today it can.  Our energy crisis will not be solved overnight, but the bill now before us is a crucial first step.  Let’s take that step together.  To do so, we can’t let procedural disputes get in the way of this much-needed bill.  My Republican colleagues objected to this bill going to conference.  That is their right.  Even without a conference process, we worked with Republicans, consulting on and sharing proposed language.  Many provisions were removed and modified at the request of Republican members.  We have acted on this bill in good faith.  Now it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to put politics aside and unite behind a bill that will deliver a cleaner, safer energy future to the American people.”