Senate National Security and Energy Leaders Call On Secretary Rice to Address Addiction to Oil in Testimony Tomorrow
In light of her upcoming testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow, Senator John Kerry today authored a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on America's addiction to oil. In the letter, Kerry and other Senators call on Rice to prove wrong the statement by an Exxon Mobil executive last week that America "can't achieve energy independence" and to develop an honest
February 13, 2006 Dear Secretary Rice:
In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush stated, "America is addicted to oil," and called for the United States to cut Middle East oil imports by 75 percent within 20 years. Yet last week, the President proposed a budget that does not make that important goal a priority and will not make it a reality.
Transportation accounts for the greatest amount of America's oil consumption. If the President were serious about reducing our oil dependency, he would make a major push to reduce this consumption through new technology. Instead, the President's energy budget actually cuts vehicle energy efficiency research by nearly 9 percent; and his proposed budget in this area is nearly 18 percent lower than the level prescribed in the energy bill he signed just last August. His proposed funding for hydrogen-fueled vehicles is barely a third of the total contemplated for FY 2007 by the energy bill. On top of this, at a time of record high natural gas and heating oil prices, the Administration is proposing to cut funds to vital programs that cut pollution and save energy like Energy Star and Building Codes Assistance; help the federal government save energy and tax dollars; and help low income residents save energy with the Weatherization Assistance Program so they can afford their utility bills.
An investment in alternative energy sources is also an investment in our national security. Now is the time to invest more, not less, in technologies and practices that promise the quickest, cleanest and cheapest means of addressing tight energy supplies and extraordinarily high prices.
Increased American energy dependence further entangles our nation in unstable regions of the world. In exchange for oil, we transfer wealth to autocratic regimes that too often use the United States as the scapegoat for the ills of their nations. This has a real impact on our ability to win the War on Terror. Today, America spends more than $500,000 per minute on foreign oil -- $30 million per hour. We paid more than $42 billion for Persian Gulf imports alone in 2005. This hinders our efforts to promote democratic reforms and respect for human rights. And our oil dependence makes it all the more difficult to confront countries like Iran, which are emboldened by their oil wealth and influence to defy the international community. It is bad enough that these dollars will not help grow our domestic economy - - it is even worse when you consider their impact on our national security.
Moreover, we have to protect the foreign oil we depend on for our way of life. In recent years, U.S. forces had to help guard the pipeline in Colombia. Our military had to train indigenous forces to protect the pipeline in Georgia. We plan to spend $100 million on a special network of police officers and special forces units to guard oil facilities around the Caspian Sea, and continue to search for bases in Africa so we can protect oil facilities there. Our navy patrols tanker routes in the Indian Ocean, South China Sea, and the western Pacific.
The President's new goal of eliminating 75% of America's oil imports from the Middle East is commendable, but unfortunately there is no Administration plan to achieve it. The bottom line is that the Administration's energy policy works for Saudi Arabia, it works for big oil and gas companies, but it does not work for the American people. In fact, just last week the senior vice president of Exxon Mobil asserted that, "This nation can't achieve energy independence ... It is simply not feasible in any time period relevant to our discussion today." When you come before the Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow, we would like to hear how America's diplomacy will help prove Exxon Mobil wrong -- and support making America energy independent and free us of the consequences of our addiction.
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
Senator John Kerry
Senator Jeff Bingaman
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Jack Reed
Senator Maria Cantwell