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Public Statements

Energy Policy Act Of 2005

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005 -- (Senate - June 16, 2005)

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AMENDMENT NO. 791

Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I support the amendment offered by the Senator from New Mexico, Mr. BINGAMAN. This amendment is a breath of fresh air in a bill that is filled with many stale concepts regarding our approach to this Nation's energy policy. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this amendment.

Producing a significant amount of our electricity from renewable sources is not a concept for the future. It is a real possibility that exists today using solar, wind, tidal, gas from landfills, and biomass. In fact, 19 States around the country are using these renewable source of energy to steer their States towards a future of clean, sustainable energy use.

In my State of Illinois and in many other States, enacting this standard is a no-brainer. This winter, Illinois Governor Blagojevich announced a plan to adopt a renewable portfolio standard requiring Illinois electric utilities to provide 8 percent renewable energy as part of their overall power mix by 2012. This bold vision will make Illinois the second biggest wind power State in the country by 2012. The city of Chicago also has a strong commitment to using renewable sources of energy and is already planning to surpass a 10 percent contribution from renewables in its electricity stream and achieve a 20 percent goal.

In the 18 other States where renewable portfolio standards have been successfully adopted, innovations in electricity generation have flourished at virtually no cost to the consumer. Just imagine what would happen to this industry of the future if we enacted a Federal standard. And, here is the best news: According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 10 percent renewable portfolio standard on the Federal level would not add a single penny to consumers' bills.

Introducing renewable electricity into the mix of electricity generation also brings us a measure of physical security. By creating geographically dispersed sources of energy generation, we are providing ourselves with greater electricity security by providing smaller targets and reducing the transport of combustible materials. This is smart policy at a time when we must be vigilant about homeland security.

Our country's demand for electricity is expected to continue growing for decades to come. Enacting a renewable portfolio standard ensures that clean technologies will help us meet that enlarged demand, while not offsetting the importance of investing in clean technologies in other energy production methods, especially coal. Coal will undoubtedly play a large role in our energy portfolio for years to come, and I look forward to a vigorous debate on how we can best assist the utility industry in employing clean coal technologies.

Abraham Lincoln once said: ``I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.'' The real facts are that without forward-thinking amendments such as this one, the energy bill is not going to bring us independence from the 20th century mindset of energy production. Let us give the American public this tool so they too can rise to meet this national energy crisis before it gets worse.

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AMENDMENT NO. 784, AS MODIFIED

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Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the amendment offered by the Senator from Washington, Ms. Cantwell. I am proud to be submitting this amendment.

Forty-four years ago, John F. Kennedy challenged America to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. A bipartisan coalition in Congress joined with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon to make this goal a reality.

Today, we are considering a similarly bold challenge to the Nation--to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent by the year 2025. This challenge is no less important, no less laudable, and no less worthy of bipartisan support, Presidential leadership, and national commitment.

The bill before us purports to offer a comprehensive energy solution for the future. But, as currently drafted, the bill does nothing more than lead us down the same dangerous and unsustainable path that we have been traveling for the last several decades. Unless we draw the line now, outlining a bold change in course, with time enough to prepare, we will see the United States in 2025 even more tethered to foreign oil, and even more subject to economic shocks, than the United States of 2005. Unless we reverse course, we will continue putting our economic well-being and national security at the mercy of unstable foreign governments.

Some will argue that the goals in this amendment are unrealistic and unattainable. I do not agree with these naysayers. When President Kennedy announced his challenge in 1961, he said the following: ``This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts.''

Likewise, meeting the requirements of the Senator's amendment will require a similar commitment. But I believe the task before us is much simpler than the one that faced President Kennedy, because we already know how to decrease our reliance on foreign oil. A smart energy policy that focuses on a greater commitment to technology; including hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology, renewable fuels, and greater efficiency can take us a long way, if not the entire way, to the goal proposed by the Senator from Washington.

As difficult as it may be, we must try to meet the goal set forth in this amendment. We would be far worse off as a country if we just threw up our hands and admitted defeat.

The people I meet on my travels around Illinois are ready for the challenge. They are tired of giving their hard-earned dollars to foreign governments in the form of record-high gasoline prices. They are tired of seeing their foreign policy being influenced by America's insatiable need for Middle East oil. They are looking to their leaders in Washington for innovative leadership. If we lay down the challenge in this amendment, I have every reason to believe that the American people will rise up to meet it--much like they met a similar challenge 40 years ago.

In 1962, President Kennedy traveled to Rice University to speak about the challenge that he had laid down the year before. He stated: ``Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships as well as high reward. So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer, to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the U.S. was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.''

When it comes to our energy policy, we are long past the point of waiting and resting and looking behind us. I urge my colleagues to support the amendment offered by the Senator from Washington.

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