Issue Position: Energy
High Gas Prices
With gas prices often nearing $3 a gallon, Claire believes that Congress needs to enact policies that protect consumers and move America away from its dependence on foreign energy sources and its dependence on oil.
The five largest oil companies in 2006 reported almost $120 billion in profits. From 2000 to 2005, they reported over $383 billion in profits. But according to its own trade association, the oil industry has invested a paltry $1.2 billion in clean, renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, they're using tactics to block gas stations from selling alternative fuel such as E-85.
Claire wants to repeal the billions of dollars in tax subsidies that we currently hand over to the oil companies and use that revenue to invest in renewable energy efforts. She also supports legislation to make gas price-gouging a federal crime, strengthens federal authority to prevent and prosecute manipulation of fuel supplies and increase the transparency of petroleum markets.
Each year U.S. consumers spend $2.57 billion more than they should for gasoline and diesel fuel because they are buying "hot fuel". Hot fuel is when gasoline or diesel fuel exceeds the standard 60 degrees. Retailers currently measure and distribute the gas we purchase at the fuel pump if it is stored at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if the temperature increases, as it often does during the summer or in warm climates, the gas expands. The result of hot fuel is that consumers are getting less energy (BTUs) per gallon and are therefore paying more to drive the same distance.
To protect Missouri drivers, Claire has introduced the Future Accountability In Retail (FAIR) Fuel Act of 2007 (S.1997). This legislation requires all retail gasoline and diesel fuel pumps to be fitted with automatic temperature sensing equipment that will regulate the distribution of fuel based on its temperature at the time of purchase. A similar policy was implemented in Canada fifteen years ago because retailers were concerned with losing money due to the cold temperature of the fuel they were selling (as gas cools, it contracts and therefore more energy is contained in a gallon than it would be at 60 degrees Fahrenheit).
Energy independence is the single most important issue facing our national security today. In order for the United States to remove itself from the dangers of international terrorism, we must diminish our ties with foreign oil and proliferate the expansion of traditional and advanced biofuels produced right here in the U.S. While Claire realizes there are many challenges to ensuring production and a market for these types of fuels, she believes these measures must be implemented in order to make our nation energy independent.
That is why Claire supports the renewable fuels standard passed in 2007 by the Senate. This standard not only requires 36 billion gallons of traditional biofuels to be included in the production of all motor fuels and heating oils, but also requires 21 billion gallons of the 36 billion requirement to include advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol, and fuels produced from unconventional feedstocks.
Additionally, Claire believes we need to continue to invest in renewable fuels infrastructure and support research and development of new bioenergy sources. One of the biggest obstacles facing the distribution of alternative fuels is transporting these fuels to their distributors. This not only includes having the necessary fuel pipelines to transfer biofuels but increasing the number of refueling stations carrying these fuels. Currently franchise contracts of many major integrated oil companies are prohibited from selling such fuels at their stations. It is imperative that Congress make such contracts illegal.
Renewable Portfolio Standard
In order to reduce energy consumption, "energy efficiency" must be within the context of any renewable fuels bill. Claire supports a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that would requires 15% of electricity generation to be produced through renewable sources as well as give credit to generators who promote energy efficiency.
Encouraging utilities to purchase an increased portion of their electricity from renewable energy sources would be a positive step toward energy independence. But Congress must pass a law that takes into account the unique energy capabilities of each region in the U.S. For example, while Nevada can benefit significantly from wind and solar power to supply their energy needs, states like Missouri can implement a combination of biomass co-firing, wind and energy efficiency standards to supply ours.
Senator McCaskill was pleased that the Senate Democratic leadership brought legislation to the Senate floor that would have required renewable a RPS. Unfortunately, this issue was filibustered by critics of the measure, and it remains mired in partisan politics.