Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I rise in support of the amendment of the Senator from California. I thank her for bringing this amendment, which is one of the most important issues we will vote on in the Senate this year. It is not just a vote to protect a refuge; it is a pristine wilderness.
The words 'pristine wilderness' together mean something. They carry more than just the notion of a policy put in place by President Eisenhower in 1960, I believe, reinforced later in the Alaska Lands Act signed by President Carter. This is a national treasure. The words 'pristine wilderness' both are destroyed, the entire concept is destroyed, by what this amendment seeks to do, may I add, not in the normal process of legislation as we approach it here but slipped into the budget for the specific purpose of trying to bypass the normal rules of the Senate.
Now, certainly, any tool is available to anybody, but I think Americans ought to judge whether or not they want a pristine wilderness destroyed in its pristineness and in its wilderness for the sake of a minor, tiny percentage of oil that has no impact on world oil prices, has no impact--or negligible, to be accurate, about a 2 percent impact ultimately, 10 years from now, if it delivers its potential--on the total amount of dependency on American oil from abroad.
In 1975, when President Carter first began to wrestle with the issue of America's dependency on oil, we were about 35 percent dependent on foreign oil. At that time, we sought to reduce that dependency and to create alternatives, renewables, and to move to a different kind of energy base.
Today, after all the talk of seriousness of purpose, guess what. The United States of America is no longer 35 percent dependent; we are approaching 60 percent dependency on foreign oil. God only gave us 3 percent of the world's oil. Saudi Arabia has 46 percent. The Middle East, in total, has about 65 percent. So do the equation. Any kid in America can do this equation.
If the United States only has 3 percent of the world's oil, and the Middle East has 65 percent of the world's oil, and your demand for oil is going from 35 percent to 60 percent, a 2 percent difference for the destruction of the wilderness does not solve America's problem.
The bottom line is, there is only one way to solve America's problem. You cannot drill your way out of America's problem. You have to invent your way out of America's problem. Inventing your way out of America's problem means beginning to push the curve on the creation of an entirely differently based economy--a hydrogen-based economy or some other. We could do that if we were to harness the energy of our colleges, universities, and venture capitalists and create the tens of thousands--if not hundreds of thousands--of high-value-added jobs that would come from pushing in that direction.
So my objection is to the proposal by those who want to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, which is shortsighted and destructive of a wilderness. This photograph represents what the wilderness looks like today. If you start drilling, this other photo is what it could look like. It will be no longer a wilderness.
Most recently, the GAO issued a report that said there is an enormous negative downside to the environment in those areas in which we have already agreed to drill. In those areas in which we have already agreed to drill, there is an extraordinary amount of drilling left to be done. We have enormous leases that are available and open that can be pursued. We don't need to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. In fact, the most important oil companies of the country are not particularly seeking to drill there. They don't have any intention of drilling there, except to the degree that it is opened up and someone else goes there; then they may believe, competitively, that they have to.
Lord John Brown, the president of British Petroleum--which has been working hard to push solar and alternatives and renewables--said publicly: We don't really need the Alaska refuge. We don't think it is the principal place to drill.
The real drilling for America's future is offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. I know some will argue that it is an energy security magic bullet. But I have described why it is not a magic bullet, No. 1. No. 2, this is not sound energy policy.
The United States of America is still spending, I think, about $6 billion in order to provide oil and gas fossil fuel incentives. The total incentive of the United States for alternatives and renewables is $24 million. Billions of dollars to go after fossil fuel, which we know is a dependency that leads us nowhere--in fact, it leads us to increased global warming problems, to increased dependency on foreign oil--$24 million going into alternatives and renewables.
Europe has a much better sense of the future than, apparently, this administration in the United States right now. Great Britain has determined that they are going to provide almost all of their electricity in Great Britain--even though they are oil rich in the North Sea--from windmills, wind power, over the next 10 to 15 years. If you go to Holland or Denmark, you will see in the bays off those countries windmills that are providing enormous power.
In Minnesota, in our own country, I have met farmers who are actually earning more providing wind power to their local farm neighbors. From windmills, wind power, they are earning more, providing some 2,000 farms with power, than they are from farming. Think of what you could do if you began to move to biomass ethanol or corn-based ethanol for Iowa and for other States that grow and farm, which are already in huge dependency on the U.S. Government for billions of dollars--to do nothing or to not grow.
We are completely on the wrong track. This effort to try to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge is a misguided effort to try to keep America locked into a place that takes us nowhere. I believe we need to open up a different future for this country, and the Energy Information Administration concluded last year that drilling in the refuge would only reduce oil imports by a tiny 2 percent, which provides no security to the United States at all. It is not good environmental policy, it is a terrible excuse for an energy policy, and it seems to me that domestic and renewable sources are urgently needed.
Why? Well, no foreign government can embargo them. No Saddam Hussein can seize control of them and reduce the flow. No cartel can play games with them. No American soldier will ever have to go and protect them with his or her life because they are here, they are home grown, and they don't put us into that predicament.
So I will be voting in support of Senator Boxer's amendment in favor of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I strongly urge my colleagues to do the same. We have had this debate before. A majority of the Senate had decided previously that this does not contribute to the energy policy of our Nation, and I hope we will stand by that decision.
I yield the floor.