ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005 -- (Senate - June 15, 2005)
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MODIFICATIONS TO AMENDMENT NO. 779
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Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the amendment offered by the Senator from New Mexico.
During the debate on this energy bill, we have already heard and will continue to hear about the importance of strengthening the energy independence of America. The phrase ``energy independence,'' however, must be heard no longer as a routine utterance. It must be heard as an urgent warning of the most serious magnitude.
The sirens are sounding, and I fear that we are not listening.
The days of running a 21st century economy on a 20th century fossil fuel are numbered--and we need to realize that before it is too late. The price of gas is now around $2.24 per gallon. Crude oil is now soaring over $50 a barrel. The Saudis are pumping at near-full capacity, and their own oil minister says that the price of crude will probably stay at this price for the rest of the year. And Goldman Sachs predicts that soon it may reach $100 a barrel.
Imagine what that would do the price of gas--$100 for one barrel of oil.
Our own Department of Energy predicts that American demand will jump by 50 percent over the next 15 years. And as developing countries like China and India continue to grow, the world will be faced with more drivers than it knows what to do with. Right now, there are 800 million cars on the road. By 2050, that number will grow to 3.25 billion.
Think about that 3.25 billion cars guzzling oil that is becoming more limited and more expensive with each passing day. We could open up every corner of the United States for drilling and tell the oil companies to go to town, but with only 3 percent of the world's oil supplies, it wouldn't even make a dent in the problem.
Of course, most of the rest of the world's oil lies in the Middle East, a region we have seen torn by war and terror. Every year, we send $25 billion to these countries to buy oil. It doesn't matter if they are budding democracies, despotic regimes with nuclear intentions, or havens for the madrasas that plant the seeds of terror in young minds they get our money because we need their oil.
What is worse--this oil isn't even well-protected. Over the last few years, terrorists have stepped up their attempts to attack poorly defended oil tankers and pipelines. And a former CIA agent tells us that if a terrorist hijacked a plane in Kuwait and crashed it into an oil complex in Saudi Arabia, it could take enough oil off the market and cause more economic damage in the United States than if a dirty nuclear weapon exploded in downtown Manhattan.
Recently, I came across a quote from Henry Ford, the carmaker, who said these prophetic words in 1916:
All the world is waiting for a substitute to gasoline. When that is gone, there will be no more gasoline, and long before that time, the price of gasoline will have risen to a point where it will be too expensive to burn as a motor fuel.
Mr. Ford was right--he was just ahead of his time. His words were spoken before the shocks to our economy caused by the oil crisis of the 1970s, before the world's oil fields became areas of turmoil and terrorism, before growing nations like China and India joined us at the trough of massive petroleum consumption.
We need a 21st century energy policy. Whether this bill accomplishes that remains to be seen. But it is clear that part of the solution must be greater use of renewable fuels instead of continued reliance on foreign oil. That is why I am astonished that there is any effort in this Chamber to eviscerate a renewable fuels standard that can and will--further America's energy independence while also strengthening our economy.
The Nation's ethanol production is expected to exceed 4 billion gallons this year. In the coming years, ethanol production is expected to be so robust that as much as 8 billion gallons of renewable fuels could be in our fuel supply by 2012.
Right now, outside Washington, in cities and towns, on farms and in factories across America, there is hope for us to do so much more than we have been doing on energy. Whether it is farming the corn in Galesburg that can fuel our cars or fine-tuning the microchip in Chicago that let's us plug them in, people are taking America's energy future into their own hands with the same sense of innovation and optimism that has always kept our country on the forefront of discovery and exploration.
They deserve a government that can see that future too.
The American people are asking us to address high gas prices. The American people are asking us for greater national security. The American people are asking us to invest in job creation. The renewable fuels standard in the Domenici amendment proposes to do just that in 7 years, and I am proud to be a cosponsor of the amendment.
Instead of continuing to link our energy policy to foreign fields of oil, it should be linked to farm fields of corn. I urge my colleagues to support the Domenici amendment.
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