U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   09/06/2006
Statement of Senator Barack Obama
Oversight on Federal Renewable Fuels Programs

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing on how the federal government can promote the growth of a domestic renewable fuels industry. This is an important issue to my constituents in Illinois.

When I think about this issue, I’m often reminded of a quote from the carmaker Henry Ford, who said in 1916: “The world is waiting for a substitute for gasoline. [Someday] there will be no more gasoline, and long before that time, the prices of gasoline will have risen to a point where it will be too expensive to burn as a motor fuel.”

In 1916, Henry Ford’s company produced about a half million Model T’s each year, and there was enough oil in the U.S. to meet our energy needs. Ninety years later, there are 243 million cars and light trucks in the U.S., and we have to import about 60% of our oil from abroad.

I’ve said it many times but our dependence on foreign oil threatens not only our economic security but also our national security. As long as our economic fortunes are tied to the price of oil, our ability to grow our economy and raise the standard of living for our people is threatened. Equally troubling, a large portion of the $800 million we spend on foreign oil each day goes to countries with volatile governments – places that breed turmoil and terrorism.

For these reasons, I was pleased to have cosponsored the renewable fuels standard that passed last year. When fully implemented, the RFS will go a long way towards encouraging the production of home-grown fuels and reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

But we can – and must – do more. That’s why Senator Cochran and I introduced a bill to create a similar renewable standard for diesel fuel. And that’s why Senator Lugar and I introduced a proposal to increase CAFE standards for cars and light trucks. So I hope the same bipartisan spirit that led to the RFS can lead to other legislation to help cut our ties to foreign oil.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.