GULF OF MEXICO ENERGY BILL -- (Senate - August 02, 2006)
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I take this opportunity to comment on S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico energy bill. I believe this legislation strikes an appropriate balance between our need for new sources of oil and natural gas, with the concerns of the coastal States.
I do support passage of S. 3711, but I do not support the bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year. The careful compromise that is the Senate bill cannot be found in the version passed by the House. I will not support any legislation that opens South Carolina's coast to drilling for oil.
I am supporting the Senate bill, but I wish that it went further to address our energy dependency issues. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, the world's demand for energy is expected to double in the coming years. This should be a call to intensify our efforts to become energy independent as soon as possible. We must continue to fund research into alternative sources of energy such as hydrogen. Where suitable we need to use solar power and potentially wind. We must expand production of ethanol beyond corn so that all regions of the country can produce ethanol efficiently.
As a cochair of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, I voted for this legislation to increase our supply of natural gas for manufacturers. According to a study by the Congressional Research Service, 24 percent of our natural gas is consumed to generate electricity. While it is very easy to generate electricity from gas, it is a very inefficient use of the resource. Instead of electricity generation, natural gas should be utilized for industrial and home heating use.
For electricity generation, we need to continue encourage a renaissance in nuclear power. This involves reducing the regulatory redtape involved in constructing new plants, opening Yucca Mountain, and proceeding with spent nuclear fuel recycling. Nuclear power is an efficient zero-emission source of energy that can address both our energy and climate concerns.
I applaud the ongoing work of Senator Domenici and others to help increase the supply of critical energy resources. This bill is a small step in the right direction, and I look forward to working to further this effort beyond what we are accomplishing today. I also encourage my colleagues in the House that if they are truly serious about passing a bill to increase the supply of natural gas and oil this year, S. 3711 needs to be passed by the House as soon as possible.