ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005 -- (Senate - June 22, 2005)
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Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, first I want to pay tribute to a very good friend, and that is Senator Durbin. I have had the good opportunity and great honor of representing Massachusetts in the Senate now for over 40 years. I believe Senator Durbin is one of the most gifted, talented, able, and dedicated Members of the Senate with whom I have had the opportunity to serve. I believe he has a great love for this country, a great respect for the Senate, and a great love for his State of Illinois. I think every morning when he rises, he is looking out for the struggling middle class and the working families of this country. I have enormous respect for his dedication and his commitment to those who serve in the Armed Forces.
AMENDMENT NO. 841
Mr. President, I congratulate and thank my friend and colleague from California for offering this amendment. I rise in strong support of this amendment. She has made a very compelling case. I want to add some additional points to what I think is a very persuasive, commonsense approach to the whole issue of LNG.
I support the development of LNG. She has placed her finger on the most important aspects of it. We need it as a country. It ought to be embraced and expanded and supported. But at least the issues of safety and security ought to be able to be presented to the decision making bodies in this Government. Too often that has not received the consideration it deserves.
I want to add that at this moment, although I think this Energy bill moves us forward on many issues--from the new incentives for energy conservation to expanding our portfolio of renewable electricity--it has no clear plan for energy independence and it fails to provide needed relief from the high gas prices that are slowing our economy and that are being paid for by families all across this country. Millions of American households face a genuine energy crisis because of gas prices which are at their highest levels in years. The national level now is $2.13 a gallon, and in Massachusetts the price of regular gasoline is 24 percent higher than in 2001. We should explore all options for lowering gas prices immediately, including a more rigorous investigation of price gouging at the pump.
Our dependence on foreign oil is an albatross around our neck. The technology is there to rapidly reduce imports of foreign oil by making greater investments in solar and hydroelectric and other renewable energy sources. Success is within our reach if we set a clear target.
That is why I gave strong support to Senator Cantwell, who offered the amendment to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent in 20 years. I am disappointed it did not receive the full support of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle because reducing our dependence on foreign oil is an important part of a comprehensive national strategy.
As Senator Feinstein mentioned, LNG is part of all of this energy debate and discussion. She has talked very compellingly about the safety issues. LNG, as has been pointed out, is a highly hazardous and explosive material, as its track record clearly shows. At 40 LNG facilities in the world, serious accidents have occurred at 13 of them since 1944. In 1944, an accident at a facility in the United States killed 128 people. An accident at an Algerian facility killed or injured over 100 people. A Sandia Lab report released in December confirms our worst fears: If an LNG tanker or facility catches fire, the lives of residents within a 1-mile radius would be endangered by the resulting explosion.
The United States has not built an LNG facility in an urban area in over 30 years. There are 32 proposals under consideration. One of these facilities is in Weaver's Cove at the mouth of the Taunton River in Fall River, MA, a city of 100,000. And your city could be next.
Let me point out what we are facing in Weaver's Cove in Fall River. If you can see this chart, these small areas are homes. This circle represents 1 mile; 9,000 individuals live within that radius. Here is Somerset School. One thousand children go to that school every single day. And the Wiley School, which 165 students attend; St. Michael's School, another 165 children go every single day.
To transport LNG to the proposed facility at Weaver's Cove, also raises serious safety issues. A 33-million-gallon tanker has to travel 31 miles of coastline, through narrow waterways, along some of our most pristine areas, including Narragansett Bay, one of the populous estuaries in the United States. To reach the facility, the explosive liquefied natural gas would have to travel under five bridges, which are also likely targets for a terrorist attack.
Based on these facts, there is overwhelming opposition to the new facility in Fall River. The mayor of Fall River opposes it, as does the city council. The people of Fall River strongly oppose it. They are not against LNG, but there are 9,000 people living in this area. We are talking about the fact of moving this tanker up a narrow sealane for 31 miles.
Despite their pleas, FERC is moving forward with the approval of the site. FERC has ignored repeated requests from the mayor, myself, and my colleague Senator Kerry to discuss the issue. The congressional delegation has appealed to Secretary Chertoff of the Homeland Security to visit this site and we hope he will soon.
This amendment, as the Senator has pointed out, gives the Governor of a State where the site is proposed a voice in the process. It creates a true Federal-State partnership. That is how we regulate the siting of other hazardous facilities. That is how we should decide the placement of LNG facilities.
We need a responsible approach that makes sense in this new era where security must be a high priority. I hope this amendment will be accepted.
I thank the Senator from California.
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