Brian Baird on Energy & Oil
Democratic Representative (WA-3)
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. ED MARKEY (D, MA-7): For the first time in the history of our country, we will put enforceable limits on global warming pollution. At its core, however, this is a jobs bill. It will create millions of new, clean-energy jobs in whole new industries with incentives to drive competition in the energy marketplace. It sets ambitious and achievable standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass so that by 2020, 20% of America's energy will be clean.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BOB GOODLATTE (R, VA-6): I agree that this bill has very important consequences, but those consequences are devastating for the future of the economy of this country. It's a fantasy that this legislation will turn down the thermostat of the world by reducing CO2 gas emissions when China & India & other nations are pumping more CO2 gas into the atmosphere all the time. We would be far better served with legislation that devotes itself to developing new technologies before we slam the door on our traditional sources of energy like coal and oil and and nuclear power. We support the effort for energy efficiency. We do not support this kind of suicide for the American economy. Unfortunately, cap and trade legislation would only further cripple our economy.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. RICHARD NEAL (D, MA-2): This bill contains extensions of popular tax incentives that expired at the end of last year. This needs to get under way. The R&D tax credit is important. This bill includes a number of popular and forward-thinking incentives for energy efficiency. This is a very balanced bill which does no harm to the Federal Treasury. It asks that hedge fund managers pay a bit more, and it delays an international tax break that hasn't gone into effect yet. It is responsible legislation.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. DAVE CAMP (R, MI-4): We are conducting another purely political exercise on a tax bill that is doomed in the other body because of our House majority's insistence on adhering to the misguided PAYGO rules. The Senate acted on a bipartisan basis to find common ground on this issue. They approved a comprehensive tax relief package containing extenders provisions that are not fully offset, as many Democrats would prefer, but contain more offsets than Republicans would like. Why is this our only option? Because the Senate, which has labored long and hard to develop that compromise, has indicated in no uncertain terms that it is not going to reconsider these issues again this year.
[The bill was killed in the Senate].
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. MATSUI: Today's debate is about investing in renewable energy, which will chart a new direction for our country's energy policy. This bill restores balance to our energy policy after years of a tax structure that favors huge oil companies. Today's legislation will transfer some of the massive profits enjoyed by these oil companies and invest them in renewable resources that will power our economy in the future.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. SMITH of Texas: I oppose H.R. 5351. While it is well and good to encourage alternative energy development, Congress should not do so by damaging our domestic oil and gas industry. In 2006 all renewable energy sources provided only 6% of the US domestic energy supply. In contrast, oil and natural gas provided 58% of our domestic energy supply. The numbers don't lie. Oil and natural gas fuel our economy and sustain our way of life.
Furthermore, almost 2 million Americans are directly employed in the oil and natural gas industry. Punishing one of our Nation's most important industries does not constitute a national energy policy.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 236-182
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. PELOSI: This bill makes the largest investment in homegrown biofuels in history. We know that America's farmers will fuel America's independence. We will send our energy dollars to middle America, not to the Middle East.
Rep. TIERNEY: This bill incorporates the Green Jobs Act, which will make $120 million a year available to begin training workers in the clean energy sector. 35,000 people per year can benefit from vocational education for "green-collar jobs" that can provide living wages & upward mobility.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. SHIMKUS: I'm upset about the bill because it has no coal provisions. What about coal-to-liquid jobs? Those are real jobs with great wages. Energy security? We have our soldiers deployed in the Middle East because it's an important national security interest. Why? We know why. Crude oil. How do we decrease that importance of the Persian Gulf region? We move to coal-to-liquid technologies. What is wrong with this bill? Everything. No soy diesel. No ethanol. No coal. Nothing on nuclear energy. No expansion. There is no supply in this bill. Defeat this bill.
Rep. RAHALL: [This bill omits a] framework to sequester carbon dioxide to ensure the future use of coal in an environmentally responsible fashion. We can talk about biofuels all we want, but the fact is that coal produces half of our electricity for the foreseeable future. We must aggressively pursue technologies to capture and store the carbon dioxide.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This legislation seeks to end the unwarranted tax breaks & subsidies which have been lavished on Big Oil over the last several years, at a time of record prices at the gas pump and record oil industry profits. Big Oil is hitting the American taxpayer not once, not twice, but three times. They are hitting them at the pump, they are hitting them through the Tax Code, and they are hitting them with royalty holidays put into oil in 1995 and again in 2005.
It is time to vote for the integrity of America's resources, to vote for the end of corporate welfare, to vote for a new era in the management of our public energy resources.
Opponents support voting NO because:
I am wearing this red shirt today, because this shirt is the color of the bill that we are debating, communist red. It is a taking. It will go to court, and it should be decided in court.
This bill will increase the competitive edge of foreign oil imported to this country. If the problem is foreign oil, why increase taxes and make it harder to produce American oil and gas? That makes no sense. We should insert taxes on all foreign oil imported. That would raise your money for renewable resources. But what we are doing here today is taxing our domestic oil. We are raising dollars supposedly for renewable resources, yet we are still burning fossil fuels.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This amendment would preserve the longstanding moratorium so important to coastal States. The amendment would also preserve the underlying bill's one redeeming feature, the renegotiating of the cash-cow leases now pouring billions of dollars into already stuffed oil industry coffers.
We have only 5% of the world's population, but 30% of the world's automobiles, and we produce 45% of the world's automotive carbon dioxide emissions. This addiction harms our environment, our economy and our national security. This underlying bill attempts to bribe coastal States into drilling off their shores by promising them a lot more money.
Opponents support voting NO because:
For 30 years, opponents of American energy have cloaked their arguments in an environmental apocalypse. They have tried to make the argument that no matter what we do, it will destroy the environment.
This amendment takes out all of the energy production. It is a callous disregard for the jobs that have been lost over the last 30 years of following an anti-energy policy. The people who work in oil and gas, their jobs are in the Middle East or Canada. We have exported their jobs. If this amendment passes, we are going to send the rest of them. We should know how important it is to create jobs in this country, to create clean natural gas in this country, so that it can be the bridge to the future.
Modernize Environmental Policies
National environmental policies, mostly developed in the 1970s, have been remarkably successful in improving the quality of our air and water. But we face a new set of environmental challenges for which the old strategy of centralized, command-and-control regulation is no longer effective.
The old regime of prohibitions and fines levied on polluters is not well equipped to tackle problems such as climate change, contamination of water from such sources as farm and suburban runoff, loss of open lands, and sprawl. Without relaxing our determination to maintain and enforce mandatory national standards for environmental quality, it is time to create more effective, efficient, and flexible ways of achieving those standards.
For example, a system of tradable emissions permits would give factories, power plants, and other sources of air pollution and greenhouse gases a powerful incentive not only to meet but to exceed environmental standards. Decisions about solving local environmental problems should be shifted from Washington to communities, without weakening national standards. Finally, to empower citizens and communities to make sound decisions, government should invest in improving the quality and availability of information about environmental conditions.
Title: To preserve the Arctic coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, as wilderness in recognition of its extraordinary natural ecosystems and for the permanent good of present and future generations of Americans.
Summary: Designates specified lands within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System [which would preclude oil exploration and drilling].
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to provide for a program of scientific research on abrupt climate change, to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the US by establishing a market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances, to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the US and reduce dependence upon foreign oil, and ensure benefits to consumers from the trading in such allowances.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This bill is designed to begin a meaningful and shared effort among the emission-producing sectors of our country to address the world's greatest environmental challenge--climate change.
The National Academy of Sciences reported, "temperatures are, in fact, rising." The overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is real, that it is happening as we speak.
Terrible things are happening at the poles, which will have global implications. Amplified global warming, rising sea levels, and potential alterations in ocean circulation patterns are among the global concerns.
The International Climate Change Task Force recommended that "all developed countries introduce mandatory cap-and-trade systems for carbon emissions and construct them to allow for future integration into a single global market." That is already being done in Europe as we speak, which is the substance of this legislation.
If we do not move on this issue, our children and grandchildren are going to pay an incredibly heavy price because this crisis is upon us, only we do not see its visible aspects in all of its enormity. We have done relatively nothing besides gather additional data and make reports. That is what the US national policy is today: gather information and make reports. I would argue that is a pretty heavy burden to lay on future generations of Americans.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; never came to a vote.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CAF scores as follows:
The Campaign for America's Future (CAF) is a center for ideas and action that works to build an enduring majority for progressive change. The Campaign advances a progressive economic agenda and a vision of the future that works for the many, not simply the few. The Campaign is leading the fight for America's priorities--against privatization of Social Security, for investment in energy independence, good jobs and a sustainable economy, for an ethical and accountable Congress and for high quality public education.
About the CAF report, "Energy Independence: Record vs. Rhetoric":
Energy independence has surfaced as a defining issue in the current elections. Are most candidates and both parties truly committed? To help distinguish the demonstrated level of support for homegrown, clean energy alternatives, we examined the voting records of current U.S. Representatives and Senators on bills vital to promoting those interests. Key pieces of legislation included goals for independence, and subsidies for the development of alternatives compared to subsidies for drilling and digging. We then compared votes on these issues with campaign contributions from major oil interests. The results show strong inverse correlations between political contributions from big oil and votes for energy independence.
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