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Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I want to address why we should have cloture on this bill to get to finality--and that is going to take 60 votes--and why you should not support the Kyl amendment.

In the debate on some of this bill, particularly in committee, we had the issue of, well, we are taxing oil companies to promote renewable fuels; that this is an industrial policy, and it is bad for Congress to be involved in industrial policy. Basically, I agree.

But, remember, throughout the history of this country, Congress has been involved in a lot of industrial policy. There would not be a farmstead today that would have electricity if we did not have rural electric cooperatives. Railroads would have a monopoly on hauling things if we did not have river improvements so that barges could work as well. Railroads would still be hauling most of our commerce if we had not built an interstate system. Airports and airlines are all about the Government promoting competition.

Also, we are involved in where we are, taxing the oil industry to get a renewable energy industry started--as we have been for 20 years now just with ethanol, and expanding it beyond ethanol, but we would not have an ethanol industry today if we had not had tax incentives over the last few years. There will be, someday--just like we are saying to the oil companies today: You got your start because of tax policy, a lot of tax benefits, because the oil industry was infant at one time and needed to get started. The same thing is true of alternative energy. If we do not give some tax incentives to get alternative energy--and I mean beyond ethanol: biodiesel, wind energy, things that maybe we do not even have on our mind today--we are talking a little bit about cellulosic ethanol, but it is around the corner yet--we are not going to develop these industries to the strong capability they need to be when there is less and less and less transportation provided by petroleum products.

So I think we ought to look at the reality of how a gigantic oil industry got started in the United States--through tax incentives. We are talking about tax incentives to get alternative energy started. That is why I hope you will abide by the decisions the Committee on Finance made to have these situations where there is some tax on oil companies for the benefit of tax credits for alternative energy.

I hope you also appreciate the fact that maybe a lot of us would like to have the tax incentives without offsets, but we are in an environment of pay-go. We are not in a reconciliation situation. We are in a situation where we have to provide the necessary offsets in order to get this legislation through.

So I hope you will think of the history of where we have been with tax policies to promote an industry that is out there now. I hope you will understand that God only made so much fossil fuel and there has to be a follow-on if we are going to have the growth of our economy.

I would like to state this one last point that I have heard the President of the United States make many times when I have been to the White House in the Oval Office to talk energy. The President has said many times that with these high prices of oil the way they are, we do not need any more incentives for the oil companies to get more energy.

The President has been a friend of alternative energy, most often expressing his support of ethanol, but a supporter of alternative energy, and I hope he is in support of this legislation as well.

Mr. President, I yield the floor because I think the Senator's time is about up. Thank you.

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