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Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives For The Nation Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


CREATING LONG-TERM ENERGY ALTERNATIVES FOR THE NATION ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - June 15, 2007)

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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. President, let me congratulate my friend from Florida for his passionate statement on this imperative. As Abraham Lincoln might say, we are trying to give our Nation a new birth of freedom from the oil addiction that is very much compromising the national security of our Nation. Certainly how we deal with transportation fuels and move forward with higher standards and more efficient vehicles is something I hope this body has the political will to do through the underlying bill, which will move us to 35 miles per gallon within a reasonable time period. I very much appreciate his leadership on this effort and I look forward to joining him on this battle next week as we try to move forward.

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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. President, I rise today to offer the 25x'25 resolution as an amendment to H.R. 6, the Energy bill. I am proud to be joined in this endeavor by a broad bipartisan group of Senators. They include Senators Grassley, Harkin, Lugar, Obama, Hagel, Clinton, Feingold, Casey, Nelson of Nebraska, Brownback, Kohl, Kerry, Johnson, Tester, Cantwell, Thune, and Cochran, all of whom are sponsors of S. Con. Res. 3, which we introduced earlier this year.

Mr. President, 25x'25 is a critical vision for our energy future that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil by building a new energy economy here at home. Our amendment establishes a national goal of producing 25 percent of America's energy from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and biofuels, by 2025.

The 25x'25 vision is widely endorsed, it is bold, and it is fully attainable. If implemented, it will dramatically improve our energy security, our economy, and our ability to protect the environment and combat global warming. 25x'25 complements the steps we are taking on the bill before us today which reflects the good work of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the other committees that have contributed so greatly to this bill.

I am pleased that 17 of my colleagues in the Senate from both sides of the aisle are cosponsoring this resolution. In addition, the 25x'25 vision has been endorsed by 22 current and former Governors and many State legislatures around the country.

The Big Three auto manufacturers--Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors--are all behind 25x'25. So are many agricultural organizations, environmental groups, scientists, and businesses, ranging from the Farmers' Union and the Farm Bureau to the Natural Resources Defense Council, and companies such as John Deere.

The breadth of support for the 25x'25 vision speaks to the extraordinary economic, environmental, and national security benefits that its achievement will yield. In all, nearly 400 organizations have embraced this vision and are working together on a plan to implement it.

The amendment I am introducing makes the 25x'25 vision a policy goal for our Nation. It sets a challenging but realistic target for our legislative and budgetary work on energy. Our amendment says the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the American people should be the engine for a new, clean energy economy for the 21st century.

I urge every American to join with me and roughly 400 partner organizations that are part of 25x'25 to make this goal a reality. Results from a recent study conducted by the University of Tennessee show that reaching the 25x'25 goal is, indeed, achievable. The study also shows that 25x'25 would do the following: First, it would increase net farm income in America by $180 billion and, including multiplier effects, could result in $700 billion in economic activity annually for America. Secondly, it would create 5 million new jobs here at home by 2025; and third, it would save as much as $15 billion in Government payments across America.

America's working people can and should be at the center of our energy revolution. Farmers and ranchers in my native San Luis Valley, in Sterling, CO, and elsewhere, are already leading the way. They are building biodiesel plants and ethanol refineries that help power cars, tractors, and trucks. They are building wind turbines in Prowers County and biomass generators in Jackson County, and they are searching for new technologies that will allow them to make even greater contributions to our energy supply. These Americans understand we cannot continue to import 60 percent of our oil
from foreign countries, many of which are hostile to the United States. If we aim to be strong and secure in this world, we must have this kind of bold vision. They know we will have to build a clean energy economy for America if we are to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

A clean energy economy will take root in our farms and in our fields. It will help revitalize a rural America that has been forgotten for far too long. It will spur our engineers to new developments and designs, and it will help establish the United States as a world leader in clean energy technologies. It is time for Congress to take a more active role in our clean energy future. Establishing a national goal of 25x'25 is an important first step.

Americans understand we cannot continue to import 60 percent of our oil from foreign countries, many of which are hostile to the United States, if we aim to be strong and secure in the world. We must rid ourselves of this dependency and this addiction. They know we will have to build a clean energy economy if we are to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Today, with this amendment, we are articulating a common vision for our energy policy. It is a target that Governors, Senators, Representatives, State legislators, farmers, ranchers, business people, scientists, and automakers all wish to achieve. It is a target we can hit, particularly with the policies that are built into this bill.

I ask my Democratic and Republican colleagues to support this amendment and to join the millions of Americans who are already working toward the 25x'25 goal.

I want to make a comment about the imperative of the energy issue that is before the Senate today. When I look at the 21st century, I ask myself: What is it the people of my State, and what is it the people of America want me to do as their Senator, not only for our generation but for the next generation and generations to come? It seems to me the challenges of the 21st century are daunting challenges, major challenges, that face us. We can essentially put them into three, and they are all under an umbrella of security for this Nation and ultimately security for civilization.

The first of those challenges is foreign policy: How can we in America move forward and try to put Humpty Dumpty together again when we see so much violence in the Middle East and other places around the world? How can we make sure the dream and vision of the generation of World War II is something we preserve? How can we say to our children and to our grandchildren that the world we are leaving to them is a safer and more secure world? Certainly that generation of World War II believed they had accomplished that, that they were leaving a world which was a much safer and a much more secure world for the generations that would come after them. Indeed, we have been the beneficiaries of their sacrifices. Over half a million Americans gave their lives to preserve freedom around the world in World War II, including members of my family who gave their lives on the soils of Europe. They had a vision of a more secure world.

We have some major challenges in Iraq, as we witness the violence there, and when we see what is happening today in Lebanon where we are on the precipice of another civil war there, and when we see what is happening in Gaza and Israel where Hamas has now apparently taken over the Gaza Strip and the emergency that we see President Abbas has declared in the Gaza Strip.

We have to somehow figure out this very challenging task of how we put the world back together again. How do we secure the vision the people of America want us to have, which is that we create a safer and more secure world for ourselves and for those generations who will come behind us?

The second issue which, in my view, confronts America today and which is interrelated with some of the violence we see in the Middle East is energy. For far too long we have neglected this issue. I am proud of the fact that in 2005, this body came together in a bipartisan way and we opened a new chapter for energy in America. I am very proud of this bill today because it builds on that chapter that gets us to energy independence. We have to look at the failings of America under both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past. Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon--Richard Nixon first--coined the term ``energy independence'' when OPEC was formed. President Jimmy Carter spoke to the Nation late one night back in the 1970s and said: We need to deal with energy with the same kind of moral imperative of war.

Yet what happened in the 1980s and the 1990s? The low cost of fuel essentially allowed America to go to sleep at the switch. The consequence has been that instead of importing 30 percent of our oil as we were in 1970, today we import 60 percent of our oil. The consequence is we have compromised the national security of the United States.

I have been on the border of Israel and Lebanon and looked down at the camps of Hamas and the daunting signs of Hezbollah where Hezbollah had captured at that time Israeli soldiers, and they were at that time daring Prime Minister Sharon to go into southern Lebanon.

What is it that creates that kind of condition? What is it that allows Hezbollah to have over 37,000 rockets in their armory? What is it that allows the funding and the creation of a militia of more than 10,000 militant soldiers within the Hezbollah organization? It is the oil. It is the oil revenue that is going into some countries in the Middle East, including Iran, that is directly funding those interests who are fighting the interests of America across the world.

In fact, we have gotten to the position where those interests have become so powerful economically that now with the potential of Iran arming itself with nuclear capabilities, we should all be very concerned about the security not only of Israel but also of the Middle East and of our entire world.

What does Iran with nuclear armaments mean to the national security of our world? It is a fact that it is our energy dependence, the glutton nature of our energy dependence on oil from those countries that has compromised our national security.

So when we work on the energy issue of our country, we need to know we are working on an imperative of the 21st century. It is an imperative of the 21st century that we get ourselves rid of this addiction to foreign oil. That is why we see progressives and conservatives coming together, Democrats and Republicans coming together, to try to tackle this issue.

Much of what we have in this legislation before the Senate comes from the efforts of the energy futures coalition that coined the term ``set America free.'' ``Set America free.'' Our passage of this legislation, hopefully this next week, will be part of that achievement where we as Senators will stand and we will say we have taken another bold step in this agenda of setting America free.

A second issue that obviously confronts the people of America is health care. That is an issue for another day. That is an issue we will be dealing with as we look at health insurance for children and a whole host of other issues. But today and next week, we have an opportunity to deliver on one of the imperatives of the 21st century for the United States of America, and that imperative is that we move forward with courage and with boldness on the vision of energy independence.

Our amendment today on 20x'25 is a critical part of that agenda because it sets forth a vision that is an achievable one that will get us to make sure we are producing 25 percent of our energy from renewable resources by the year 2025.

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