ENERGY -- (Senate - September 17, 2008)
Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I first wish to thank the Senator from North Dakota for his comments. I think it is particularly important, as we get the news day after day about what is going on in the financial markets of this country, that we don't panic. The fact is, I think the investments we have in our banks are secure. There is no doubt about that. But the truth is, we have gotten here by an administration that, quite honestly, has not done its job with commonsense oversight, and greed has stepped in. The bottom line is that it is costing the Government a lot of money--$85 billion yesterday--to basically nationalize AIG. So I thank the Senator from North Dakota. I think his comments are on point.
Today, I want to talk about something that has been on our minds for some time and will be on our minds for some time; that is, the cost of energy. It is an incredibly pressing issue, and it is long past due for a commonsense energy policy with short-term and long-term solutions--critically important. America deserves no less, and Americans deserve no less. It is a matter of national and economic security.
Securing our energy future will free America from being held hostage by foreign producers, and quite honestly, most of them don't like us much--countries such as Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia. Renewable energy projects will generate good new jobs here in America while creating a sustainable energy supply at affordable prices for American consumers.
I have spoken many times on this floor about the need to drill for oil in places that make sense in this country. One of them in particular is a formation called the Bakken formation in eastern Montana. I have called on my colleagues to work together to crack down on oil speculators who artificially drive up the price of oil, and, of course, I have spoken about the need to conserve--the low-hanging fruit, conserve, conserve, conserve--and to invest in alternative and renewable energy for the future to make this country energy independent.
That is why I rise today. In Montana, several alternative energy projects have been held up by the Federal Government. Why? Because of too much redtape. And this administration has cut staff and resources just when we need them the most in the area of renewable energy. That is why I am introducing legislation, along with Senator Feinstein, that will help get renewable energy projects approved faster. The measure will cut through the redtape that slows down too many of these innovative and important projects. My bill will make it easier for folks who are figuring out how to use new technology to solve the energy crisis while also cutting down on the emissions of greenhouse gases. It would also create as many as six renewable energy pilot project offices across the country to coordinate Federal permits for renewable energy projects and transmission lines with State governments.
This legislation is only a part of the puzzle, but it is a very important piece. In the 2005 Energy bill, we created an oil and gas pilot project to speed up onshore gas and oil exploration drilling, and it is working. If we had put the same focus on renewable energy that we have on oil and gas, we would be in a different spot today. And we won't run out of renewables as we will with oil.
I very much appreciate the work many of my colleagues have been doing to develop a bipartisan energy proposal, and I support their work. I call on the Senate to work together to pass commonsense solutions to this energy crisis. We can't put all our eggs in one basket energy-wise. Energy security will take a mix of solutions, and it is not going to happen overnight. But every day we delay is another day we continue to rely on foreign energy.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.