Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords on
The Cantwell Energy Security Amendment (SA 784) to H.R. 6, the Energy Bill Last week the Senate defeated an important amendment that would have helped set this nation on a course to significantly reduce our reliance on foreign oil. It is unfortunate that a majority of my colleagues did not see fit to put the United States on the right course – to break our addiction to foreign oil. H.R. 6 requires a 1 million barrel a day oil saving goal. Unfortunately, this goal would actually result in more oil being imported, not less. In fact, the United States will still be importing 14.4 million barrels a day under the underlying bill’s goal. Slowing down the increased rate of consumption alone is not enough. We should be setting an ambitious goal that actually reduces imported oil, not a goal that will result in more oil being imported. Instead, the Senate refused to set a national goal to reduce the nation’s addiction to foreign oil. The Cantwell Amendment would have established that goal -- to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent by 2025. By turning our backs on this goal, we are sending the wrong message. Reducing our addiction to foreign oil is essential to the economic security of our nation. We cannot continue to rely on unstable foreign countries for the energy that runs the economic machine of this nation. Fluctuating energy prices and instability in the Middle East once again are prompting calls for energy independence for the United States. Federal efforts to ensure freedom from fluctuations in energy prices have been advocated by every President, both Republican and Democrat, since 1973 and the infamous oil boycott. As Americans we count on energy to protect our security, to fuel our cars, to provide heat, air conditioning and light for our homes, to manufacture goods, and to transport supplies. In all of these needs, we, as consumers, pay the price for fluctuations in the global energy market. Reducing our reliance on foreign oil is essential and the most basic step we need to take to address this crisis. The Cantwell amendment would have resulted in about 7.6 million barrels per day less oil being imported in 2025. Those savings are equivalent to the amount of oil the United States currently imports from Saudi Arabia. We can and should stop the oil cartels from controlling the future of this nation. In addition, I believe setting an oil saving goal could have beneficial effects on our air quality. Since a vast majority of current oil consumption is from the transportation sector, I believe setting an oil saving goal would encourage auto manufacturers to voluntarily improve efficiency of cars and trucks. As our population continues to grow and more people are driving more miles, it is essential to our air quality to continue to improve fuel efficiency of the vehicles we drive. As it stands now, this bill does not require auto manufacturers or others in the transportation sector – the plan, train and truck sector – to meet corporate average fuel economy standards. I believe increased fuel economy standards can and should also be included in this bill. But short of adding new standards, setting this goal would have been a significant step in that direction. By failing to set an oil saving goal, I think we have failed to state one of the most basic goals of this bill – a real reduction the amount of foreign imported oil.