Issue Position: Energy & Climate Security
"The only way we can achieve energy and climate security in this country is to reduce our dependence on oil. We should take back tax breaks for big oil companies and invest in green energy technology. We should have a windfall profits tax to fund everything from mass transit to high-speed rail to the next generation of safe, efficient cars. Finally, we should restrict speculation and price-gouging, and stand up to OPEC's monopoly. We need solutions of the future, not drilling ourselves deeper into dependence on oil."
Investing In Energy Technology of Tomorrow
Create Incentives for Research: The United States should lead the world in innovation and clean energy technology. Joe Biden supports creating a five-year, $50 billion investment in new incentives for research including: alternative fuel and energy sources, renewable energy, and carbon capture and sequestration technologies that will allow us to use coal cleanly. Our energy research and development spending is just a quarter of what it was during the last energy crisis in the 1970's. Joe Biden would pay for this investment by: taxing oil companies' windfall profits, repealing tax breaks for oil companies, auctioning carbon credits, collecting royalties for production of oil and gas on federal lands, and preventing price gouging.
Green Jobs Training: Joe Biden supports investing $100 million to train American workers in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. This would provide a core of 30,000 skilled workers to ensure American energy development doesn't suffer from a lack of trained specialists.
Expanding Use of Renewable Energy And Encouraging Americans To Use Energy More Efficiently
Set a National Renewable Energy Standard. We can meet a much greater share of the nation's energy demand through renewable resources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. Joe Biden would set a national renewable portfolio standard of 20 percent to require that at least one-fifth of the country's electricity comes from clean, renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal - just 2.3 percent of our power comes from these sources today. We can meet a much greater share of the nation's demand through renewable resources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.
Expand Use of Energy Efficient Technology. American families use about 1.4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. We spend approximately $130 billion a year on electricity. Energy efficient technology can save electricity and money. Small things, like switching to highly efficient light bulbs, can make a big difference if everyone starts to make a change.
* Flip to Efficient Technologies: Joe Biden has introduced legislation - the Flip-to-Save Program - that would provide $50 million in funding to states to administer programs to educate consumers on efficient technology and distribute highly efficient compact florescent light bulbs which use a quarter of the energy of regular bulbs. If every family across the US replaces just one regular incandescent bulb with a CFL, we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 7 million tons per year.
* Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances. Joe Biden would expand the "Energy Star Program" to include standards for more appliances and commercial systems.
* Support Green Building Codes. Joe Biden would support local updates to building codes to capture cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities in new residential/commercial construction.
* Create Incentives To Go Green. Joe Biden supports increasing incentives for energy efficient commercial buildings and manufacturing sector.
Raise Fuel Economy Standards: Joe Biden supports increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles - which will reduce the amount of foreign oil we import and the amount of money families have to spend on fuel costs. He would protect U.S. automobile manufacturing jobs by implementing a system of predictable increases in fuel efficiency standards for cars, SUVs and light trucks. The new system would set fuel economy standards based on the attributes of a vehicle (such as its size and weight), with individualized fuel economy targets that increase by 4 percent per year (or approximately 1 mile per gallon each year) reaching a 40 mpg average by 2017.
Invest In New Super-Efficient Battery Technology: The market for lithium ion batteries - those needed for super-efficient plug-in hybrids which can get 100 mpg - is dominated by foreign competitors like the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese. That is because these countries have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and supporting the technology. Joe Biden believes the United States needs to make an equal investment in new technology like lithium ion batteries. He has proposed legislation that would double investment in the development of advanced lithium ion batteries needed for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles - increasing it from $42 million to $100 million a year for five years.
Require the Federal Government To Be More Energy Efficient: The U.S. government is the country's largest energy consumer. Joe Biden would save taxpayers money - almost $4 billion dollars - and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by millions of tons by requiring the government become more energy efficient. He would require the federal government to purchase 10 percent renewable electricity by 2010 and 20 percent by the end of the next decade. And he would increase federal building energy efficiency by requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use over the next ten years.
Increase Use of Renewable Fuels
Require New Vehicles Be Flex-Fuel Vehicles: Joe Biden would require all cars marketed in the US be capable of running on E85/flex fuel by 2017 (cost estimated to be $100/car). Together with Senators Lugar and Harkin, Senator Biden has proposed legislation which directs automakers to gradually increase flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) production, increasing ten percentage-point increments annually, until nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S. are flex fuel vehicles within 10 years. At this rate half of all vehicles sold in the US would be flex fuel vehicles in five years. Currently, flex-fuel vehicles -- those able to use both regular gasoline and blends of up to 85 percent ethanol (E85) - make up only about ten percent of vehicles on the road today (7 million).
Require Major Gas Stations To Sell Alternative Fuels: Only around 1700 gas stations nationwide offer E85 to customers. Major oil companies (those that own 4,500 stations or more) should offer alternative refueling capability at 50 percent of stations they own by 2016. The Lugar-Harkin-Biden biofuel legislation would require large oil companies to install E85 pumps at their stations, increasing by five percent annually over the next 10 years.
Increase the Amount of Farm-Grown Fuel In Our Fuel Supply: Joe Biden supports increasing the amount of ethanol and biodiesel included in the nation's fuel supply by extending and increasing the current renewable fuel standard and setting standards for biodiesel. Corn ethanol is not the silver bullet, but an important first step towards the commercial availability of cellulosic ethanol.
Restore U.S. Leadership On Climate Change
Return to global climate change negotiations. Joe Biden would immediately direct U.S. negotiators to return to global climate change negotiations, to seek binding commitments among all major emitting nations - including emerging nations such as China and India - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels that prevent catastrophic global warming.
Cap greenhouse gas emissions. Joe Biden would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 by imposing a cap and trade system.
Bring developing economies to the table. Joe Biden would use U.S. leadership to bring big developing countries, like China and India, into a global climate change treaty.
Protect vital habitat. Joe Biden would protect rainforests and vital ecosystems that absorb carbon dioxide by exchanging debt-for-nature. Deforestation accounts for as much as 25 percent of manmade greenhouse gas emissions and destroys one of nature's best carbon sequestration systems. Saving just one acre of forest keeps 400 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air. Joe Biden is the original author of a plan that provides debt relief to developing nations in exchange for protecting tropical rainforests that are critical to regulating the global climate. These Debt-For-Nature swaps have generated over $300 million in conservation funding that goes directly to protecting vulnerable and valuable rainforests.