Live 2007 State of the Union Inhofe EPW Press Blog
January 23, 2007
Post #1: Welcome to EPW's historic Blog...
08:59 PM (All Times Eastern)
Welcome to the Inhofe Press Team EPW State of the Union Blog.
Tonight we are making history by blogging live during President Bush’s SOTU address. A first for a Senate office. Please sit back and don’t click that mouse. We will have an information packed blog coming your way for the next 90 minutes or so. So pull up a chair, sit and relax and prepare to stare at your computer or digital device screen.
Post #2: President about to begin speaking...
Post #3: Global Warming mention
The President is referring to global warming. Make sure all of you out there check out Senator Inhofe’s "Skeptic’s Guide to Global Warming Alarmism." You can download your free copy from from the EPW website. No home in America with school age children should be without this vital government published book. (Link http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.Facts&ContentRecord_id=8F5C9829-C459-4D17-89BB-3E3B04D8D444 ) As former Vice President Al Gore’s movie shows up in more and more schools, kids today need the ammunition to battle the Academy Award Nominated Science Fiction film. Posted by MM
Post #4: A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF THE RENEWABLE FUELS STANDARD
The Environment and Public Works Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over transportation fuels, including renewable fuels, most prominently since the the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
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 (For a comprehensive overview of renewable fuels ses Committee report here: http://www.congress.gov/cgi-lis/cpquery/R?cp109:FLD010:@1(sr074 , 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.
Click here for the most recent EPW hearing on implementing the historic renewable fuels standard click here:
Post #5: Who voted against the RFS in Committee?
With the decisive vote of the 2005 energy bill, many members of Congress (especially those running for President) laud the benefits of domestic ethanol production. Yet, their voting record on the subject does not meet their rhetoric.
Senator Clinton voted against S. 606, the Reliable Fuels Act <http://www.congress.gov/cgi-lis/cpquery/R?cp109:FLD010:@1(sr074> -- the basis of the Energy Bill's fuel title establishing the historic renewable fuels standard -- in committee, and then against the energy bill. <http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00213>
Senator Clinton also voted against Senator Inhofe’s Gas PRICE Act, <http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=6FCC14C8-ABB9-49B1-8D34-426FFD977D9B> legislation supported by a wide range of groups including the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Mining Association, which would significantly increase domestic bio-refining capacity. Instead, Senator Clinton supported the Democrat alternative, which would essentially socialize refining capacity by placing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in charge of designing, constructing and operating refineries. Clearly this is not a solution. Thankfully, the Democrat alternative was defeated down a straight party-line vote in committee last year.
The Committee on Environment and Public Works met to consider S. 606 on March 16, 2005. During consideration of the bill, a manager's amendment offered by Senator Inhofe was agreed to by Unanimous Consent. The bill was ordered reported to the Senate, as amended, by voice vote. Senators Jeffords, Boxer, Clinton, Lautenberg, and Warner were recorded as voting no.
To see who voted against the 2005 Energy Bill, see http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00213
Post #6: The 2005 Energy Bill
After several years of Democratic obstruction of energy policy, Republicans were finally successful in passing comprehensive energy legislation in 2005. That legislation included several key provisions that improve energy efficiency, renewable electricity generation, and nuclear power to name just a few.
- New Nuclear Plants: Because of the provisions in the energy bill, including the loan guarantee authority, the production tax credits, and the insurance protection against licensing delays and litigation, nine generating companies and consortiums across the United States are preparing applications for permission to build between 9 and 19 new nuclear power plants.
- Increased Generation: If all 19 are built, they would generate between 20,000-25,000 megawatts of new electricity between the years 2015 and 2020, enough electricity to power between 15 – 19 million households.
- Creation of New Jobs: Those plants would also create between 40,000 and 45,000 construction jobs and approximately 10,000 high paying, high-tech plant operation jobs.
- New Federal Efficiency Standards: The energy bill implemented new efficiency standards for 15 large commercial and residential appliances that have, in the past, consumed a great deal of energy, such as commercial washers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditions and ice makers. In response to that mandate, the Department of Energy last month codified 15 new efficiency standards.
- Energy Savings: Because of these new standards alone, we will save 50,000 megawatts off-peak electricity use by 2020 – which is an energy savings equal to more than 80 600-megawatts power plants.
- Helps consumers save energy: Encourages consumers to make their homes more energy efficient by giving them a 10-percent personal tax credit for energy efficiency improvements. The maximum credit is $500 ($300 for windows). Expires after December 31, 2007.
- Helps builders build more energy efficient homes: Home builders get a business tax credit for the construction of new homes that meet a 30 percent energy reduction standard. The tax credit expires after December 31, 2007.
- Helps businesses save energy: Provides a deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings meeting a 50 percent energy reduction standard. The maximum deduction is $1.80 per square foot of the building. Expires after December 31, 2007.
- Helps manufacturers build more energy-efficient home products: Provides a manufacturers’ tax credit for energy efficient dishwashers, clothes washers, and refrigerators manufactured in 2006 and 2007.
- Encourages new wind production: The energy bill extended until 2007 a 1.8 cent per kilowatt hour production tax credit for new wind energy. This will strongly encourage utilities to build more clean and renewable wind power.
- Increased Capacity: 2,500 megawatts (MW) of new wind power, enough energy for the annual needs of 875,000 households, will be installed this year due in part to the extension of production tax credits in the energy bill. A total of more than 14,000 MW of wind energy could be online by the end of 2007, when the tax credits expire, which is enough energy to power roughly five million homes for one year.
- Improving the environment: This new power alone will offset the emission of approximately 7 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to keeping nearly 500,000 SUVs off the road, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
- Encourages generation of more solar energy: The energy bill gives a comparable tax incentive to the solar industry until 2007 to encourage the electricity industry to build more clean and renewable solar power.
- Encourages consumers to produce their own solar energy: Creates a 30-percent tax credit for the purchase of residential solar water heating, photovoltaic equipment, and fuel cell property. The maximum credit is $2,000 for solar equipment and $500 for each kilowatt of capacity (for fuel cells). Expires after 12/31/2007.
- Electric Reliability: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has finalized new mandatory rules that ensure consumers a reliable supply of electricity and help prevent future blackouts.
- Market Manipulation: The energy bill grants FERC the authority to facilitate energy price transparency and strengthens existing protections against market manipulation of energy prices. These provisions were designed to prevent future market abuses such as those in California, Washington and Oregon in 1999 through 2001.
- PUHCA Repeal: The energy bill repealed the Public Utilities Holding Company Act (PUHCA) of 1935 and passed PUHCA 2005, a streamlined version of the law which opens the electricity and natural gas sectors to new sources of investment for necessary energy infrastructure development. This will have the effect of encouraging the construction of power lines, pipelines and underground bundled cables to meet America’s future energy needs.
- Mergers: The energy bill protects consumers from unnecessarily high electricity prices by requiring FERC to determine whether or not a proposed utilities merger will harm consumers. FERC is also directed to expedite certain mergers in order to encourage more electricity generation and better delivery of electricity to consumers.
- Gas Storage Pricing: The energy bill requires the expansion of natural gas storage capacity in order to protect consumers from price spikes due to tight supply.
Post #7: Increasing the Renewable Fuel Standard
The President’s ambitious and far-reaching renewable and alternative fuels proposal raises several issues that the EPW Committee has been considering for some time. Ranking Member Inhofe looks forward to working with his colleagues and the Administration on fully analyzing the ramifications of the initiative.
In particular, Senator Inhofe would like to better assess:
1. Current and continued implementation of the RFS rather than increasing the size and form of the mandate -- and he is not alone in that sentiment. Even the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol’s lobbying body, stated as much:
"RFA spokesman Matt Hartwig said the group has not decided whether or not to endorse Harkin's new bill but thinks Congress should wait to see how the existing ethanol mandate plays out before extending it. U.S. EPA is expected to finalize rules in the spring for renewable fuel standards required by last year's energy law, which require the use of 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2012." (Greenwire, January 10, 2007)
2. Conflicts between food, feed, and fuel. A growing body of vocal agriculture interests are fearful that increases in the RFS could significantly hurt their industries.
The Wall Street Journal on January 16, 2007, in an article titled Ethanol Could Fuel Rise in Corn, reported:
"Corn prices are likely to reach unprecedented highs in the next two to three years, as an ethanol boom in the U.S. is likely to limit corn's availability for food and feed use. This has fueled concerns that corn, a staple food ingredient in many countries and widely used as feed in the poultry and livestock sectors, might become out of reach for poorer consumers, boosting food prices in general. Soaring food prices could cause urban riots in scores of low-income countries that rely on grain imports, such as Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and Mexico, said Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute and author of a recent report about potential corn demand from the ethanol industry. The report said the ethanol distilleries being built in the U.S. will need 139 million metric tons of corn by the 2008 harvest, far more than a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate of the requirement, pegged at around 60 million tons."
Further commentary on the impact on food prices comes from a January 5, 2007 New York Times article by Alexei Barrionuevo, Rise in Ethanol Raises Concerns About Corn as a Food :
"Renewing concerns about whether there will be enough corn to support the demand for both fuel and food, a new study has found that ethanol plants could use as much as half of America's corn crop next year.
"Dozens of new ethanol plants are being built by farmers and investors in a furious gold rush, spurred by a call last year from the Bush administration and politicians from farm states to produce more renewable fuels to curb America's reliance on oil. But the new study by the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental group, found that the number of ethanol plants coming on line has been underreported by more than 25 percent by both the Agriculture Department and the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry's main lobbying group. The Earth Policy Institute says that 79 ethanol plants are under construction, which would more than double ethanol production capacity to 11 billion gallons by 2008. Yet late last month, the Renewable Fuels Association said there were 62 plants under construction. The lower tally has led to an underestimate of the grain that would be needed for ethanol, clouding the debate over the priorities of allocating corn for food and fuel, said Lester R. Brown, who has written more than a dozen books on environmental issues and is the president of the Earth Policy Institute. ''This unprecedented diversion of corn to fuel production will affect food prices everywhere,'' Mr. Brown said. Bob Dinneen, the president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the group had not intentionally tried to play down the number of plants under construction. ''It has been a moving target,'' Mr. Dinneen said in an interview on Thursday. ''We are not trying to hide the ball. We are trying to keep up with a growing and dynamic industry as best we can.""
And James C. McKinley, Jr., writes in an article Cost of Corn Soars, Forcing Mexico to Set Price Limits in the New York Times (January 19, 2007):
"Facing public outrage over the soaring price of tortillas, President Felipe Calderón abandoned his free-trade principles on Thursday and forced producers to sign an agreement fixing prices for corn products. Skyrocketing prices for corn on the world market have pushed up the price of the humble tortilla, the mainstay of the Mexican diet, by nearly a third in the past three weeks, to 35 cents a pound in Mexico City and even higher in other parts of the country. Half of the country’s 107 million people live on $4 a day or less, and many of them survive largely on tortillas and beans. The price increases have riled the public to such an extent that it has created a political storm that threatens to swamp Mr. Calderón’s fresh presidency. This month, the president, who took office in December, was booed and heckled at events around the country over food prices. Mexican lawmakers called on him to impose price controls, while leftist opposition leaders suggested that he was protecting giant corn companies. One editorial cartoonist depicted him falling from a tower as tortillas flew upward like birds."
Meanwhile, MarketWatch has this to say about fuel economy in an August 31, 2006 article &&&Flex-fuel fans beware: Consumer Reports says mileage takes a hit with ethanol blend:
"Sport-utility loyalists may be four-wheeling through the wrong mud bog if they think ethanol-friendly SUVs will cut gas costs and help the U.S. curb its dependence on foreign oil, according to a Consumer Reports study released Thursday. The consumer watchdog publication ran a battery of tests on the 2007 Chevy Tahoe flexible-fuel vehicle, which can run on either E85 -- a mixture consisting of 85% ethanol -- or gasoline, and found that the SUV's mileage dropped from 14 mpg to 10 mpg on E85. The decline could be expected in any flex-fuel vehicle, the report said, because ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline."
An Energy Washington Week article, "RFA Backs Away From Endorsing Further Hikes In Renewable Fuel Standard," outlines the Renewable Fuels Association's position on expanding the RFS mandate:
"In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview, Bob Dineen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association (the top industry lobby for ethanol fuels) is surprising many by not endorsing further increases in the size of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) -- a fuel use mandate specifically designed to boost use of the fuels. Speaking year-end with Peter Rohde, senior editor of EnergyWashington, Dineen said RFA wants to wait until implementation of EPA regulations for the current RFS, which was set into place by the August 2005 comprehensive energy law, to see if further incentives are needed. He asserts that "It may be that you don't need an additional requirement to get refiners to utilize our product because you now have infrastructure available to them coast to coast, border to border, which was not the case just a few years ago.""
In response to questions from then-Chairman Inhofe, Dr. Keith Collins (USDA’s chief economist) stated that "rising [corn] prices would cause more land to be bid into production for crops used in biofuels. Some of this land would come from other crops and some may come from cropland pasture or idle land." (See transcript from EPW Oversight Hearing on Renewable Fuels, September 6, 2006)
For additional articles, see:
3. Focus on cellulosic ethanol shows great promise, but will the technology meet the timetable set out by the President?
Some of the foremost research on cellulosic ethanol is being conducted in my home state of Oklahoma through the Noble Foundation. As I’ve mentioned before while Chairman of the EPW Committee, their work can lead toward a more energy-secure America. Yet the market, rather than the heavy hand of government, should foster science and technology .
Post #8: TODAY’S RHETORIC DOESN’T MATCH YESTERDAY’S VOTES
The junior Senator from New York is not alone in her pandering:
Senator Kerry’s 2004 Presidential Run
While on the last Presidential campaign trail, Senator Kerry made non-hydropower renewable energy a cornerstone of his energy policy. In fact, Sen. Kerry proposed a mandate that 20% of our nation’s electricity be generated with renewable sources by 2020. In 2003, DOE’s Energy Information Administration concluded that a 10% mandate could cost America more than $100 billion. The fact is that wind energy, the most cost-effective renewable, is only effective when the wind blows. And we already know where the rich elite stand on developing wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod in the Senator’s home state of Massachussets.
Perhaps that is the reason that the Senator failed to show up for an energy bill vote in 2003 that would have renewed a tax credit for wind and solar energy -- and that tax credit died. Prior to that vote, Randall Swisher of the American Wind Energy Association said, "If the energy bill dies, extension of the wind production tax credit will also die for any time in the foreseeable future." (NPR, Dec. 31, 2003)
Swisher and many in the industry contend the credit is essential to maintaining their businesses. Said Swisher: "If we weren't in the bill, the credit that is the foundation of our industry was going to expire and with it our industry would expire. So, yes, it was important for us to see that the energy bill moved forward."
Kerry Preparing for 2008
Sen. Kerry recently unveiled a "new" energy plan -- in fact, it looks eerily similar to his plan from his last go-round.
Like so many others, Sen. Kerry recognizes the political importance of supporting renewable fuels. In fact, he states, "We must significantly ramp up our production of Flex Fuel Vehicles. They run on alternative fuels, like E85, a blend of 85 percent ethyl alcohol -- a home-grown, domestic, completely renewable source of fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline … And we must set a goal of having 30 percent of our fuels come from biofuels by 2020" (see http://kerry.senate.gov/v3/cfm/record.cfm?id=261502&). Further, the Senator said that he "will offer an amendment to get over 1800 E85 pumps across the country in the next year alone, and with your help we’ll make the Congress vote yes or no – choose the status quo or choose America’s energy future."
The question many of us are wondering is how the junior senator from Massachusetts will vote on his own amendment. The fact is that his rhetoric today doesn’t match his actions – in 2005, Sen. Kerry voted "NO." He voted against the historic renewable fuels standard when he voted against the comprehensive bi-partisan Energy Policy Act of 2005. (see http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00213)
Post #9: The New Majority's Energy Legislation
The new Democratic majority of the 110th Congress has spoken volumes about energy policy, and in fact they have acted. However, the sole energy measure that the House has passed fails to meet with their statements on energy indepence. In fact, their move makes America even more reliant on foreign sources of energy.
See Attached "Democrats Energy Plan"
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), in their press release House Votes for Oil Imports Over American Energy <http://www.ipaa.org/news/press_releases/pr2007/2007-01-18.php> on January 18, 2007 wrote,
The House of Representatives today passed energy legislation (HR 6) that discourages investment in new, American oil and natural gas supplies and does nothing to decrease the nation's dependence on foreign oil...
"This is purely a political bill playing on the campaign rhetoric of the 2006 election," said Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "At a time when we need more American energy, it simply doesn't make sense to harm those companies that can provide it.
Unfortunately, this bill is a loss for American consumers and a win for foreign oil suppliers."
IPAA represents more than 5,000 American oil and natural gas companies, most of them small, independent businesses, who drill 90 percent of the oil and natural gas wells in the United States.
The legislation would single-out the American oil and natural gas industry for an increased tax rate; require some Gulf of Mexico operators to renegotiate valid contracts that the government mistakenly drafted; and redirect revenue from the industry to alternative energy projects. These provisions take capital away from U.S. oil and natural gas producers that otherwise would have been used by companies to invest in new, domestic supplies.
The bill will now be considered by the U.S. Senate.
Russell said: "The formulation of America's energy policy deserves more than three hours of debate, as the House has done today. We hope and believe the Senate will give these important issues more thorough and thoughtful consideration."
For more information on the bill's provisions and IPAA's position, please see the following press release: http://www.ipaa.org/news/press_releases/pr2007/2007-01-12.php.
Post #10: DEMOCRAT HYPOCRISY
Roger Pielke Jr, on his blog Prometheus, highlighted more liberal hypocrisy – this time in Boulder, Colorado, in his post Hypocrisy Starts at Home <http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/energy_policy/001061hypocrisy_starts_at_.html> . Pielke points out, "If you want a sense of how difficult it will be for 6.5 billion people to reduce, much less eliminate, their emissions of fossil fuels, consider this telling vignette from the University of Colorado, my home institution, here in Boulder." Posted by MM
Post #11: A Brief History of Democratic Obstruction on energy
Democrats' skills at obstructing sensible energy policies - policies that that would make America more secure and benefit consumers - is legendary. For a brief summary see the attached chart: Manufacturing and Jobs
Post #12: The Democratic Response on Energy: More Empty Rhetoric
From Webb’s response: "Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them."
Why is that? A significant reason is that Democrats have blocked attempts to increase domestic energy supplies, specifically natural gas. We’ve known for some time the correlation between the strength of manufacturing and energy prices. This graph below taken from testimony by Dr. Jeffrey R. Currie, Managing Director of Goldman, Sachs & Co. before the House Energy Committee (Hearing on Natural Gas Supply and Demand Issues Before the House Comm. on Energy and Commerce, 108th Cong. (June 10, 2003). Dr. Currie analyzed the effect of high natural gas prices in the manufacturing sector. He concluded that "[t]he loss in industrial demand was massive: a 20% permanent decline that resulted in the loss of at least 200,000 manufacturing jobs."
Today, Democrats say that they are concerned about the strength of the manufacturing sector – we welcome them in exploring ways to increase natural gas supplies.
Post #13: Debate of Coal and Ethanol
Sen. Obama has recast himself as a "conditional" supporter of his state’s significant coal industry. "Conditional" only because although he has recently joined with Sen. Bunning in forming a coal-to-liquids caucus (see. Ben Geman, "ENERGY POLICY: Sens. Bunning, Obama to lead coal-to-liquids effort," Greenwire, January 9, 2007), he has actually voted against coal-to-liquids.
In fact, as a member of the EPW Committee Sen. Obama voted against S. 1772, the Gas PRICE Act (along with his fellow democrats; October 26, 2005) – which would have assisted communities that choose to build new or expand existing coal to liquids, petroleum, or renewable fuel/ethanol plants – a bill that was strongly supported by the National Mining Association (see, http://www.nma.org/pdf/cong_test/101805_epw.pdf).
Beyond the 2005 energy bill, Sen. Obama did vote for a substitute amendment of S. 1772 which would have provided the federal EPA with the authority to site, construct, and operate transportation fuels facilities.
Post #14: Note on Cellulosic Biomass Ethanol
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. of Ardmore is deeply involved in developing and commercializing advanced biomass crops for cellulosic biofuels production and providing statewide leadership to attract biofuels investment to Oklahoma.
The Noble Foundation’s work in this field has been recognized by both the U.S. Department of Energy and USDA.
The Noble Foundation and Oklahoma State University are finalizing a multi-million dollar collaborative agreement to build a comprehensive cellulosic bioenergy research institute at Ardmore. The State of Oklahoma has committed $10 million to help construct the facility.
Energy crops represent an important opportunity for agricultural producers, rural economies and producers and users of liquid transportation fuels.
Post #15: Senator Boxer on CAFE - Then & Now
EPW Chair Boxer and the Democratic Majority support federal mandates for higher CAFE standards for automobiles, yet their rhetoric does not match their lifestyles.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Then:
From a September 24, 1990 article in Automotive News:
"Dingell and Boxer had an exchange of their own during last week's House hearing. Dingell pressured an embarrassed Boxer into admitting that her husband leases a Porsche and that her children own imports. Boxer admitted that she did not know the mileage rating of the Porsche. (Porsche's 1990 city ratings ranged from 13 to 18 mpg; highway, 19 to 26 mpg.).
'Why don't you buy a Geo (Metro)?' Dingell asked Boxer, who owns a Chrysler convertible."
Senator Boxer Now:
From MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson on April 27, 2006:
"Senator Barbara Boxer held a one-woman rally at an Exxon station to attack the Bush administration’s relationship with big oil. Then as the 'Washington Post' reported this morning, Boxer jumped into a gas guzzling Chrysler for the block-long ride to her office. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York did virtually the same thing, choosing to drive mere yards back to the Capitol from his photo op."
From the April 27, 2006 edition of The Washington Post: "[Senator Boxer] then hopped in a waiting Chrysler LHS (18 mpg) -- even though her Senate office was only a block away." See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/26/AR2006042602307.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns
Post #16: 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.
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