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Energy Dependence

Location: Washington, DC

ENERGY DEPENDENCE -- (Senate - January 18, 2007)

Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. President, I rise today because our dependence on foreign oil is dangerously out of control and it is putting our Nation at risk. It is weakening our defenses and undermining our power around the world.

From my point of view, as I look at the defining issues of the 21st century, there is no doubt in my mind that our energy security is at the very top of those issues which we must address. We must address it because of national security implications, because of our economic security, and because of the environmental security of the United States of America.

First, with respect to the national security of our country, it is incredible to me that in this year, 2007, we are importing 60 percent of our oil from foreign countries, and 22 percent of the world's oil reserves are official sponsors of terrorism that are under some kind of U.N. sanction. When we look at the conflict underway in the Middle East, when we look at the tensions with Venezuela, we in the United States of America are putting our very national security at risk simply because of our overdependence on foreign oil.

Second, the economic security of the United States of America is very much at risk as well. We need to have a new energy economy that will produce jobs in the United States of America and give us stability with respect to the costs that go into our energy economy.

Third, the environmental security of our Nation is also very much at risk.

As we move forward to try to address issues such as global warming, it is important for us to address this issue from a national security point of view, an economic security point of view, and environmental security point of view. Therefore, I believe the Congress and President Bush, Secretary Bodman, and others who are involved in this effort have to get very serious about our energy security. It is time for us to put rhetoric behind us.

As we heard last week in the Senate Energy Committee, we have a pre-9/11 energy policy that is failing us in a post-9/11 world. We have an energy policy which is still a pre-9/11 energy policy, and it is failing us in this post-9/11 world. We must take dramatic steps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, conserve energy with new energy-efficient technologies, and expedite the development of renewable energy resources. We must build a clean energy economy that restores our independence and our competitive advantage around the world.

For much of the last century, the United States has been the single most powerful Nation on this globe. We have been a clarion voice for freedom, democracy, and justice for all people. My father and 16 million young Americans served their country in World War II, defeating the Nazis and the fascists around the world, earning us our role on this globe of the most powerful Nation of the last century. Many died to achieve that legacy for the United States of America. My uncle was one of those 400,000 Americans who died in that conflict of World War II, leaving his life, his blood, and his spirit on the soils of Europe.

Today, our dependence on foreign oil is sapping the strength that the World War II generation built for us. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran are playing their oil holdings like chess pieces on a chessboard, applying pressure here, threatening there, and eroding U.S. influence around the world. Since 2001, China and Russia have partnered to lock up oil in central Asia, rolling us out of the region. Venezuela has wielded its resources to bully its neighbors and to oppose our interests in South America. And Iran has used its oil resources to court Russia and China, convincing them to oppose our diplomatic effort to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. We ought not put our foreign policy in the hands of Iran or Venezuela or the sheiks and kings of the Middle East.

Countries that wish us harm know full well of our addiction to their oil. They know that any disruption in supply sends gas prices through the roof and slows our economy. And they are happy to profit from our addiction. Oil money lines the pockets of the terrorists, the extremists, and unfriendly governments. It helps the Syrians buy rockets, such as those the Hezbollah has in Lebanon today. It reaches bin Laden and al-Qaida. It funds the militants in Nigeria who capture and terrorize westerners. The sad truth is that we are funding both sides of the war on terror. We spent over $100 billion last year to fight the extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan--extremists armed with weapons purchased from our oil revenues. It is crazy.

We are importing more oil today than we ever have. Over 60 percent of our oil--more than 12 million barrels a day--comes from abroad. The vast majority of this oil comes from state-owned oil companies in unfriendly countries. This is only going to get worse in the coming years. Take a look at who controls the world's oil reserves. If we look at the chart, the countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, Iraq--and the list goes on--control most of the world's oil reserves, and many of these countries are either unfriendly to the United States or have a shaky government around them. But we know one thing for sure: It is not the best interests of the United States they have at heart.

If our oil dependence continues, we will be relying on companies such as Petrovesa, Saudi Aramco, and Gazprom for our oil. What does this mean? It means that Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela will hold our very energy security in their hands, which means they hold our very national security in their hands.

We have to change course, and we have to change course now. We are no longer a world where oil costs $12 a barrel. We no longer carry the illusion that others wish us no harm. We live in a complex and dangerous time. Yet we continue to depend on this pre-9/11 energy policy that simply is not working for us in this 21st century.

The good news is that the future of our Nation's energy security lies right here at home. It lies in our farms and in our fields and with the ingenuity of American workers and American technologies.

There are two things we can do immediately to improve our energy security. First, we can dramatically increase our energy efficiency. Improved efficiency is the cheapest and largest source of energy. The technologies that will save us energy and money are already in place, but Government policies often discourage consumers from using them. We have to be much smarter as a country about energy efficiency.

Second, we need to expand our domestic energy production from renewable energy sources. We have taken aggressive steps over the past few years to open new sources of oil and natural gas in this country. We see the effects of these policies throughout our country, especially in my State of Colorado where natural gas production has jumped over 50 percent over 2000, and we see it in the Gulf of Mexico where just a few months ago we in Congress opened millions of new acres for leasing.

But we have fallen woefully short on the renewable energy front. We have fallen woefully short. In last year's State of the Union Address, President Bush touted the virtues of cellulosic ethanol and solar power. He told the American people:

..... We have a serious problem, we are addicted to oil.

And he indicated that he would make a serious commitment to renewable energy. That is what the President said a year ago in his State of the Union Address. Yet, in fact, that hasn't happened. The proof is that it simply is not in the budget, and the proof is that if you look at what has happened with renewable energy and energy efficiency, we are investing less in these initiatives than at the time President Bush became President.

If you look at our renewable energy investments from 2001 to 2006, you see this line, this thin line. We have actually been investing less in renewable energy resources from 2001 until 2006. For us to have declined by almost $100 million during that time period in terms of what we are investing in renewable energy means we are not walking the talk about what we can do with respect to renewable energy.

I also want to briefly demonstrate the reductions that have been made with respect to our investments in energy efficiency. Again, in 2001, we were investing about $900 million to make this a more energy-efficient country. In the time that has passed in the last 5 years, now, in 2006, we are investing $200 million less. So when people talk about getting energy efficient or investing in renewable energy, the fact is America simply is not walking the talk. We need to start walking the talk if we are going to get to energy independence.

Mr. President, may I inquire how much time I have remaining?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr. SALAZAR. I ask unanimous consent to speak for an additional 2 minutes.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. SALAZAR. I thank my friend and colleague from Massachusetts, Senator Kerry, for being patient.

We need to move forward to start walking the talk, and the first step is for President Bush, when he comes before the Congress for the State of the Union Address, to talk about energy independence, but to make sure the budget that is put on the table for Congress to consider is a real budget that is robust in terms of how it will move us forward with respect to renewable energy, with respect to alternative technologies, and with respect to investments in a greater energy-efficient economy. This is an imperative for the United States of America, and unless we move forward aggressively in a bipartisan fashion, bringing conservatives and progressives, Democrats and Republicans, together on this initiative, we will be compromising the national security of the United States in a manner that is absolutely inexcusable.

I look forward in the days ahead to working with my colleagues as we move forward with a robust energy package that will get us to energy independence.

I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, first, let me begin by congratulating my colleague from Colorado on his comments, which are important. As I think the Chair knows, during the course of the 2004 cycle, I made energy independence one of the centerpieces of the campaign. In fact, I am proud that I was the first Presidential candidate to ever advertise in a campaign on that topic. We tried to lay out why and how it is so critical to the security of our country, the health of our country, the economy of our country, and the jobs that would be created. Of course, in terms of environmental protection, it is common sense. There are huge gains to be made with respect to efficiency. Efficiency, in fact, is the largest place available to grab CO

2 out of the atmosphere, which is the biggest problem with global warming, global climate change. So there is an enormous agenda here. In fact, this administration isn't even in the game. It is sad when you measure it against the demands of the country.

So I appreciate what the Senator has said. This is something that has to become a priority over the course of the next days here, and we are going to do everything in our power to help make it so.

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