[Note: Check out the Inhofe EPW Press Team blog of the State of the Union at www.epw.senate.gov]
U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works
INHOFE COMMENTS ON STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, commented this evening on the President’s plan for ensuring energy reliability and improving the nation’s energy security by promoting renewable fuels, clean coal technology, and the expansion of the use of nuclear power.
“President Bush is right; America is far too dependent upon foreign powers for our energy needs and we must improve the nation’s energy security,” Senator Inhofe said. “Congress should build upon the significant gains made in passing the bi-partisan Energy Bill in 2005 where Congress made a commitment to advancing clean technologies and expanding domestic energy production. While Chairman of the EPW Committee, I worked with my colleagues to include several provisions in the Energy Bill that have helped expand refinery capacity, expand the use of nuclear energy and strengthen security at nuclear facilities, and improve permitting processes so we can explore our domestic resources in an environmentally-conscious manner. These provisions continue to benefit Oklahoma and the nation as a whole.”
“I am a strong proponent of increasing energy security by increasing domestic production. However, we must carefully measure the President’s ambitious proposal to drastically increase the use of alternative fuels, particularly when the unintended consequences of such a mandate could have on the American people. While Chairman, I worked closely with my colleagues to craft a responsible bi-partisan compromise that lead to the historic RFS included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Since passage of that comprehensive measure last August, I chaired three EPW Committee oversight hearings on transportation fuels, and a legislative hearing on my bill that improve the process to build critical fuels infrastructure. My careful examination of ethanol and monitoring the RFS implementation has lead me to voice concern over increasing costs of food and feed. Secure energy supply must be grounded on three key principles – stable, diverse, and affordable. I look forward to weighing how the President’s initiative meets this test.
“I commend the President for his continued commitment to increasing domestic refining capacity. As Chairman of the EPW Committee I introduced the Gas PRICE Act and Energy Price Reduction Act, legislation designed to increase refining capacity for gasoline and boutique fuels, only to see Senate Democrats block and obstruct reasonable legislation. As the President said today, increased refining capacity can go a long way in addressing the nation’s short-, mid-, and long-term fuels challenges. My refining legislation established greater regulatory certainty without changing any environmental law, through improving efficiency, and by establishing a future for the use of ultra-clean transportation fuels derived from abundant domestic resources such as coal and renewable agriculture sources.”
EPW COMMITTEE COMMITMENT TO NATIONAL SECURITY AND ENERGY INDEPENDENCE
In 2005 as Chairman of the EPW Committee, Senator Inhofe introduced the Gas Petroleum Refiner Improvement and Community Empowerment Act (Gas PRICE Act), which will expand the nation’s refining capacity and help establish a future for the use of ultra clean transportation fuels derived from abundant domestic resources. During the Committee’s mark-up, the Gas PRICE Act was amended to include coal-to-liquid facilities, biorefineries, and any facility that produces a renewable fuel as defined by the Clean Air Act under the definition of a “refinery.”
As Chairman of the EPW Committee, Senator Inhofe co-sponsored legislation that created a comprehensive program to increase the use of renewable fuels in the United States. The Reliable Fuels Act, ultimately incorporated into the Energy Policy Act signed into law in 2005, encourages the production and use of ethanol made from cellulosic biomass by counting each gallon of ethanol produced from cellulosic biomass as if it were 1.5 gallons of corn-based ethanol. The legislation also authorized loan guarantees for up to four cellulosic ethanol commercial demonstration projects under the Federal Non-Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974. These projects will produce cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residue or municipal solid waste.
Also included in the Energy Policy Act were three bills approved by the Committee that will encourage the expansion of the use of nuclear power:
· S. 858: the Nuclear Fees Reauthorization Act of 2005
Titles II and III of S. 858 contain key Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reform provisions that are critical to better aligning the NRC’s resources and capabilities as well as human capital provisions needed to ensure that NRC meets its long-term staffing needs.
· S. 864: Nuclear Security Act of 2005
S. 846 includes additional authorities that the NRC has requested of the Committee such as expansion of background checks, finger printing, and providing additional security tools for the personnel who guard these sites. The bill as introduced provides the base text for comprehensive discussion on nuclear security.
· S. 865: Price-Anderson Act Amendments of 2005
The Price Anderson Act of 1957 established a liability insurance program for damages to the general public from potential nuclear incidents. The Act has been reauthorized four times with the latest occurring in the FY2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act when the program was extended to December 31, 2003. Although the program never expires for existing reactors, the program would not be available for new reactors until it is reauthorized. Recognizing the reauthorization of this program is absolutely essential for the growth of nuclear power in the nation, this legislation reauthorizes the program until December 31, 2025. Variations of the bill have passed the EPW Committee and the full Senate over the past few congresses.