Issue Position: Homegrown & Renewable Energy
When I travel to each of our state's 87 counties, Minnesotans talk about the rising cost of gas and home energy. Of course, I've seen and experienced it myself every time I go to fill up my own car with gas.
The simple truth is that our country has been headed down the wrong energy path. Our current path has led to record high electricity and gas prices. These high prices not only hurt our families, they also hurt our businesses. Our dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security and our climate.
We cannot continue down this destructive path any longer. It is not good energy policy; it is not good economic policy; and it is not good environmental policy.
We need to get on the fast track to energy independence, and I want to help lead our nation down a path to a better, cleaner and more secure energy future with new opportunities for technological innovation and economic development. This would be a future based on renewable energy resources, advanced clean-energy technology and high-efficiency vehicles, buildings and appliances. This approach would strengthen our national security, protect our environment and provide the foundation for continued economic prosperity.
I believe that technology and innovation will be the key to solving our energy problems. And, in solving these problems, we have the opportunity to develop revolutionary new technologies and create whole new industries and jobs in Minnesota and across the nation. Our country can become the world's major supplier of new energy technologies, not just the world's major consumer of oil.
I serve on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Agriculture Committee, Commerce Committee, and the Joint Economic Committeeall of which deal with energy issues, allowing me to champion solutions on the front line that are good for our state and our country.
In Minnesota, we can spearhead the effort because we have the fields to grow the fuel that will keep our nation moving, we have the wind energy to propel our economy forward and we have the talent and know-how to develop the new technologies to make it happen. I want us to have an energy policy that benefits the farmers and workers of the Midwest instead of the oil cartels of the Mideast.
Although there is much more to do, the 2007 Energy Bill offers a start. It requires a seven-fold increase in ethanol production by 2022; a 40 percent increase in average vehicle fuel efficiency by 2020; higher efficiency standards for appliances; and incentives for the design and construction of high-performance, energy-efficient buildings. I was proud to co-sponsor several successful parts of the bill, including a provision to increase the gas mileage of our nation's automobile fleet.
As Minnesota's U.S. Senator, these are my energy priorities:
* Expand incentives for investment in homegrown renewable energy resources and technology. Our economic and national security depends on rapidly overcoming the country's addiction to foreign oil. We can do this by expanding our production of ethanol; developing next-generation renewable fuels; strengthening the tax incentives for both the manufacture and purchase of hybrid and flexible-fuel vehicles and by creating a national Manhattan Project to focus on the development of new energy technologies. I'm working in the Senate to expand the availability of renewable fuels all over the country, to provide additional markets for Minnesota's producers. I have introduced the Ethanol Education and Expansion Act, which would provide grants to farmer-owned ethanol producers to install E-85 pumps at rural gas stations. I'm also taking the lead on efforts in the Senate Agriculture Committee to advance the nation to the next generation of biofuels - cellulosic ethanol - made from agricultural residues, wood chips and switch-grass. Along with Senators Harkin and Conrad, I have introduced S. 1403, the Farm-to-Fuel Investment Act, which would encourage farmers to grow dedicated energy crops on marginal land. These crops have the potential to provide our country with carbon-neutral motor fuel.
* Establish a National Greenhouse Gas Registry and combat Global Warming. I have introduced legislation that would create a comprehensive and uniform method of tracking greenhouse gas emissions by major industries. This is necessary to better understand how much greenhouse gas various sectors of our economy emit so we can design effective strategies to address greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Currently, reporting of greenhouse gas emissions falls under a number of different federal and state programs. Reporting is largely voluntary, and the criteria and reporting formats are inconsistent. I am proud to have the bill cosponsored by a number of Democrats and four Republicans. I also support a "cap and trade" system to combat climate change, just as we successfully took on acid rain.
* Raise the fleet-wide fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. Simply put, raising CAFÉ standards is the easiest and most cost-effective way to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil from unfriendly regimes. And I firmly believe that we can improve efficiency in a way that ensures that Americans can continue to buy any type and size of vehicle they desire, and that future vehicles have at least the same level of performance, comfort, and safety as today's vehicle choices. I was proud to work on the provisions of the 2007 Energy Bill that substantially increase the gas mileage standards for all new vehiclesthe first new standard mandated by Congress since the 1970s.
* Improve our nation's energy efficiency standards so we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and increase economic productivity. The technology is already available to substantially improve the energy efficiency of appliances, as well as the design and construction of homes and buildings which consume a large portion of our electricity. We need the proper standards and incentives to make the most of these opportunities. It is not only good for the environment; it saves money, too.
* Establish a national renewable electricity standard to match Minnesota's "25-by-2025" plan. Minnesota's strong leadership demonstrates that, far from hurting an economy, well-designed policies can actually stimulate innovation, leading to new economic growth. States like Minnesota have been leading way, but that is no excuse for the inaction by the federal government.
* Stop price gouging by oil companies. American consumers should not have to dig ever deeper into their pockets while the big oil companies amass record profits. We must eliminate oil company handouts and tax loopholes, and dedicate more funds to biofuels research and other homegrown energy sources.