Senate Democrats

Democratic Solutions for America’s Energy Crisis

Democrats understand that high energy prices are taking a toll on American businesses and families and are committed to reducing energy costs through both short- and long-term solutions. We must increase domestic energy production, ensure fairness in the marketplace and reduce our dependence on oil by shifting to a new green economy. While Democrats have made important strides, like halting oil deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, passing a renewable fuel standard and raising fuel efficiency standards in cars and trucks for the first time in 32 years, Bush-McCain Republicans have stood in the way at every turn. But as gas prices continue to climb, we hope that our colleagues across the aisle will work with us on these short- and long-term solutions. By using our existing resources more efficiently and investing in newer cleaner energy sources, we will lower energy costs, reduce our dependence on oil and create jobs in a dynamic green economy.

Democrats are committed to increasing our domestic energy production:

Democrats Believe Oil Companies Should Increase Production in the 68 Million Acres of Leased Land Already Available to Them. Democrats believe that oil companies should increase their production in the 68 million acres of land already leased to them that are not producing any oil. [Senator Reid Statement, 7/11/08]

Democrats Passed Legislation Halting Deliveries of Oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Democrats passed legislation to stop deliveries of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with broad bipartisan support. The reserve is 97 percent full and was accepting approximately 70,000 barrels of oil per day. [Christian Science Monitor, 5/15/08]

Democrats Are Encouraging President Bush to Tap Into Oil Reserves in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Democrats are calling on President Bush to begin releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of an effort to expand oil supplies in the short-term. [Senator Reid Statement, 7/11/08]

Democrats Believe Any Oil Drilled in America Should Stay in America. Democrats believe that oil drilled here at home should be sold on the American market, rather than being sold to China, Japan, India or other foreign oil consumers. [Senator Reid Statement, 7/11/08]

Democrats are committed to ensuring fairness in the marketplace:

Democrats Introduced a Bill to Stop Excessive Speculation in Energy Markets. The Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act would strengthen the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, limits speculation by traders who are not trading actual physical petroleum products, closes the “London Loophole” for energy commodities trading and enhances transparency and accountability in the energy commodities market. [Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act, 7/17/08]

Democrats Tried to Crack Down on Price Gouging. The Consumer-First Energy Act would give the President the authority to declare an energy emergency should there be a shortage, disruption or significant pricing anomalies in the oil market. Once an emergency is declared, setting an “unconscionably excessive price” during such an emergency would be deemed unlawful and subject to civil penalties. [Consumer-First Energy Act, Introduced 5/7/08]

Democrats Tried to Empower U.S. Attorney General to Stand Up to OPEC. The Consumer-First Energy Act allows the U.S. Attorney General to bring an enforcement action against any country or company that is colluding to set the price of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product. Enacting this provision will make it clear to nations that participate in the oil cartel that engaging in conduct designed to fix the price of oil is illegal under U.S. law. [Consumer-First Energy Act, Introduced 5/7/08]

Democrats are committed to reducing America’s dependence on oil:

Democrats Raised Fuel Efficiency Standards for the First Time in More Than 30 Years. Democrats successfully passed the Energy Independence and Security Act that raised the average fleet fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This was the first increase in fuel-economy standards passed in 32 years. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/20/07]

Democrats Expanded Production of Renewable Fuels. The Energy Independence and Security Act expanded production of renewable fuels to 9 billion gallons in 2008 and to 36 billion gallons by 2022. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/20/07]

Democrats Passed Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Biofuel Production and a New Tax Credit for Ethanol. Democrats passed the Farm Bill over the President’s veto which included hundreds of millions of dollars in mandatory for advanced biofuels and a new temporary production tax credit for ethanol. [HR 6124, Became Law on 6/18/06]

Democrats Have Tried to Provide New Tax Incentives to Encourage Investment in Renewable Energy Technologies. The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 would create renewable energy incentives by providing almost $20 billion of tax incentives for investment in renewable energy related to energy production, transportation and domestic fuel security, and energy conservation and efficiency. [Democratic Policy Committee, Legislative Bulletin on HR 6049, 6/9/08]

Democrats Tried to Increase Renewable Electricity Production. The Energy Independence and Security Act was stripped of a provision that would have required electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. [Senate Vote #416, HR 6, 12/7/08; Senate Vote #430, HR 6, 12/13/07; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/23/07]

Democrats Wanted to Roll Back Giveaways to Big Oil and Invest in Renewable Energy. The Consumer-First Energy Act will roll back $17 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies and instead invest those taxpayer dollars to improve consumer price protection, renewable energy development and energy efficiency technology through a designated Energy Independence and Security Trust Fund. [Consumer-First Energy Act, Introduced 5/7/08]

Democrats Are Incentivizing Big Oil Companies to Invest in Renewable Energy. The Consumer-First Energy Act creates a 25 percent windfall profits tax on companies that fail to invest in renewable energy sources. This provision would not apply to the profits those companies reinvested in clean, affordable, domestically produced renewable fuels or renewable electricity production. The proceeds of the tax will be invested in consumer price protection, renewable energy development and energy efficiency technologies through a designated Energy Independence and Security Trust Fund. [Consumer-First Energy Act, Introduced 5/7/08]

Democrats Tried to Spur Investment in Alternative and Renewable Energy and Institute a Cap-And-Trade System to Reduce Emissions. The Climate Security Act would provide $150 billion through 2050 to owners and operators of facilities that use renewable energy technologies and would provide $92 billion for low-carbon electricity and $17 billion for advanced energy research programs. The bill would also institute a cap-and-trade carbon emissions system that would reduce total U.S. emissions by 66 percent by 2050. [Senate EPW Committee Summary of Boxer Substitute Amendment to the Climate Security Act, 5/21/08]  

Bush-McCain Republicans have stood in the way time and time again:

Republicans Have Now Blocked Renewable Energy Tax Credits Six Times. Over the course of the 110th Congress, Republicans have blockedDemocratic efforts to pass renewable energy tax credits six times. They blocked an amendment to add renewable energy tax credits in June, twice prevented the bill with the tax credits included to proceed in December, prevented Senator Reid from adding the renewable energy tax credits to the economic stimulus bill and then twice blocked consideration of a tax extenders bill that included renewable energy credits. [Senate Vote #223, HR 6, 6/21/07; Senate Vote #416, HR 6, 12/7/07; Senate Vote #425, HR 6, 12/13/07; Congressional Record, 2/7/08; Senate Vote #147, HR 6049, 6/10/08; Senate Vote #150, HR 6049, 6/17/08]

Republicans Blocked Climate Change Bill Which Would Have Set Up a Cap and Trade System and Provided Billions of Dollars for Alternative Energy Development. Republicans blocked a motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Boxer, D-Calif., substitute amendment no. 4825 that would cap greenhouse gas emissions nationwide and set up a trading system for companies to buy and sell emissions allowances. Note: Three-fifths of the total Senate (60) is required to invoke cloture. A "nay" was a vote in support of the president’s position. The motion was rejected 48-36: R 7-32; D 39-4; I 2-0. [Senate Vote #145, S 3036, 6/6/08]

Republicans Blocked a Bill that Would Have Cracked Down on Speculation and Price Gouging, Invested in Renewable Energy and Rolled Back Tax Breaks for Oil Companies. Republicans blocked a motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the motion to proceed to the bill that would repeal tax benefits for oil companies worth $17 billion over 10 years that were enacted in 2004 and 2005, as well as direct the money to renewable energy. It also would impose a profits tax on the largest oil companies. Note: Three-fifths of the total Senate (60) is required to invoke cloture. The motion was rejected 51-43: R 6-41; D 43-2; I 2-0. [Senate Vote #146, S 3044, 6/10/08]

Bush Republicans Blocked Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Crack Down on Speculation in the Oil Market. Republicans objected to a unanimous consent request to pass legislation approved by the House 402-19 that would have directed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to immediately crack down on oil speculation.

Senator Cantwell: So, Mr. President, while we’re taking a holiday, there’s no holiday for consumers on higher gas prices.  But one thing that we can do is make sure that the chief agency in  charge of policing these oil markets uses its emergency authority while we’re gone to do everything they can to protect consumers.  I think that this is important legislation and the fact that 402 of our colleagues also agreed, I think it’s time that we do the same thing.  As I said, they didn’t have a lot of too many to discuss this.  They were just all in an agreement that this is an emergency situation and we should make sure the CFTC uses that emergency authority.  So I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of this House bill, H.R. 6377, the Emergency Marketers Emergency Act, which was just received from the House and the bill be read three times and passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate.          

The Presiding Officer: Is there objection?

Senator Sessions: Mr. President, I would object. On behalf of the Leadership on this side. [Unofficial transcript, 6/27/08]