With the summer driving season approaching and a gallon of gas hovering near four dollars across Massachusetts, U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) outlined his targeted steps to lower energy costs and reduce our country's reliance on foreign oil. The status quo is not acceptable when it comes to our energy policy; we need to both increase domestic energy production from all sources and take additional steps to conserve energy. Brown's measures include:
Reducing Dependence On Foreign Oil: In Massachusetts and across the country, companies such as XL Hybrids of Somerville have developed the ability to convert gas-powered vehicles into hybrids. To encourage consumers and businesses to take advantage of this technology, Senator Brown will introduce the Reducing Energy Through Retrofitting Older (RETRO) Vehicles Act. The legislation would give a tax credit to businesses that retrofit their current fleet of vans and trucks into energy-saving vehicles. Doing so will improve efficiency, help businesses and individuals save on fuel costs, increase the demand of hybrid batteries, save more than 400 million gallons of gasoline and help commercial vehicles meet 2018 fuel economy standards today.
Conserving Energy: Senator Brown believes consumers should be able to see their energy use in real-time so they can make informed decisions about reducing their consumption or upgrading their appliances. Right now, utility companies provide monthly bills with minimal information about specific usage. Along with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Senator Brown will introduce the bipartisan Electric Consumer Right To Know (E-Know Act) to give consumers better access to their energy usage data.
Increasing Transparency & Reducing Costs: While families all across America are tightening their belts, Senator Brown believes that the federal government should be doing the same. Senator Brown will introduce the Energy Cost Control Act that would require an independent third-party review of all costs in the development of federally-funded projects. This will ensure that the energy sector uses public funds efficiently and does not pass unnecessary costs onto the backs of ratepayers. Companies like Power Advocate in Boston are already providing this valuable service. Senator Brown believes we must protect consumers and small businesses from excessive rate increases that will restrict further economic growth.
Increasing Domestic Production: With gas prices soaring, Senator Brown believes we need to take an all-of-the above approach developing our domestic supplies of energy. Drilling, wind, solar, clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, bio-fuels and other technologies should be explored in a cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly manner. As we saw last year with the Gulf oil spill and the recent nuclear crisis in Japan, we need to ensure that a response plan is in place in the event of an accident. Last year, Senator Brown proposed a bipartisan bill with Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that requires oil companies to have their oil spill response plans approved by an independent, third-party agency. Senator Brown believes that we cannot afford to rely on other countries -- especially many countries hostile to the United States -- for our energy needs, and we must start looking for ways to increase our domestic production immediately.