Issue Position: Energy and the Environment
It is essential for the United States to have a balanced, comprehensive national energy policy that increases and diversifies our country's energy supply in environmentally and economically friendly ways. As a major consumer of energy, America also should be a leader in the development of new sources of energy, the development of renewable resources and the development of our own natural resources.
I also believe that it is necessary to conserve our natural resources, and I believe that we can protect our environment while still providing for economic opportunity. In fact, the two must be linked. We have made great progress in developing time-tested, environmentally sound technologies for harvesting the resources of our lands, without degrading the environment.
Gas Prices and Our Dependence on Foreign Oil
I have concerns with the significant increase in energy costs and its effects on the American economy and American families. There are no quick fixes in dealing with this issue, but there are things we have done and things we must do. We have voted to explore our own reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I was pleased to vote for this exploration because I believe we can be good stewards of our land while at the same time exploring for resources that lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster on this legislation last congress. It is my hope that we will be able to address and pass these needed reforms in this session of Congress.
A comprehensive Energy Bill was signed into law in 2005. The new energy bill embraces President Bush's Hydrogen Engine initiative, encourages the development of renewable energy resources, expands clean coal technologies and returns to a sound nuclear energy policy. By passing the first National Energy Policy in over a decade, we can begin to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and diversify our domestic energy resources and production.
The use of energy drives our country's economy, and thus it is important to consider alternative ways in which we can provide for this need. Finding new resources that end our reliance upon foreign oil is essential for our economic and national security. Furthermore, the use of alternative fuels has a positive impact on our environment.
I have given my full support to President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, which focuses on decreasing our gasoline consumption. The use of alternative feed-stocks such as wood byproducts, grasses and byproducts from peanuts, cotton and municipal waste can help us achieve a positive relationship between our economic needs and our environmental conservation. We also should invest in new technologies involving ethanol, biodiesel and coal liquification to replace traditional fossil fuels.
I believe we must encourage all forms of energy alternatives. We have a diverse country with many assets that regionally are very different. If we're going to have standards that call on us to find renewable energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we must promote all those sources and not narrow those sources.
I was pleased to serve on the conference committee that crafted a compromise on the Water Resources Development Act (H.R.1495), which authorizes Army Corps of Engineers projects dealing with flood control, storm protection, environmental restoration and inland navigation.
This bi-partisan, fiscally responsible bill is a tremendous step for Georgia. It is an investment in safe drinking water. It is an investment in stormwater management. It is an investment in flood control and water resources of the United States.
I am also a co-sponsor of legislation to enhance and strengthen security at wastewater treatment facilities by providing local governments with the tools they need to make security decisions. Specifically, the Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act (S.1303) authorizes grants to conduct vulnerability assessments for entities that treat municipal wastewater as well as grants to address security needs identified in those assessments.
Protecting our nation's water supply and the infrastructure that ensures its quality is vital to our nation's security and our citizen's health.This legislation will provide much needed resources, particularly for small, rural communities, to assess the vulnerability of wastewater treatment facilities and address security needs.
In the past 10 years, Georgia has substantially improved its air quality. We must take the next step in this positive trend towards bringing cleaner air and better health to more of our citizens. We have learned a great deal about what approaches work best, and now is the time to put those lessons to use. We should implement market-based approaches to air and water quality that guarantee results while keeping utility prices affordable for Americans.
In July 2007, I took a two-day trip to Greenland with members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to view the effects of climate change and to learn more about its impacts on the ice and glaciers of the world's largest island. My visit to Greenland was informative to see firsthand what we all hear so much about. What is occurring in Greenland today began 14,700 years ago at the peak of the last ice age.
Two brilliant scientists who accompanied us, Dr. Richard Alley of Penn State and Dr. Minik Rosoing of Denmark, both confirmed that the climate has changed naturally in the past, including warming about 14,700 years ago as the last ice age ended. They told me that most scientists believe that at least some of the recent warming has been accelerated by carbon. But by how much? The answer to that question is: No one knows for sure.
With those facts as a backdrop, it is important to address the carbon issue in the context of promoting all sources of renewable energy. You cannot reduce carbon levels without reducing the burning of fossil fuels, and you cannot do that without building nuclear power plants and furthering the development of cellulose-based ethanol. My state of Georgia already enjoys the benefits of nuclear power from Plant Vogtle, and our state has the greatest supply of cellulose in our forest products industry.
Our country has responded in the past to challenges with innovation and incentives. The issue of carbon should be approached in the same way. Reducing the burning of fossil fuels without developing all our renewable resources would be a mistake.