Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: May 21, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, Americans have noticed a steady uptick in the price of gasoline over the past few weeks, and it is only going to get worse during the summer driving season. The economic downturn may have caused gas prices to fall from last summer's record highs, but as the economy recovers, $4 gasoline could well return and Americans will want answers.

Fortunately, many of us have been busy putting together a balanced, sensible solution that gets at the root of our

energy crisis and addresses the concerns of everyone involved in this debate, including some who traditionally have been at odds. We believe it is possible to build a bridge to the clean energy future all of us want without introducing crippling taxes on consumers or on industry. So this morning, with Memorial Day fast approaching, I would like to briefly outline this balanced approach.

The first step is to admit we have a serious problem. Something must be done to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. America uses more than a fifth of the world's supply of oil, much of it from countries that do not like us. If we start by using less, we will need a lot less from other countries. So conservation and increased efficiency are certainly necessary. It is something on which everyone can agree. We need to use less.

But conservation is only half the equation. Even as we use less energy, we need to produce more of our own. America sits on an ocean--a literal ocean--of untapped oil and natural gas and vast stores of coal and oil shale. Our geography also makes us rich in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal. Taken together, these resources are the perfect complement as we move toward the day when cars and factories can run on cleaner, more efficient fuels. But we have to be realistic about how far off that day is. We have to admit there is a gap between the clean renewable fuel we want and the reliable energy we need. So as we invest in technologies that will bring us cleaner, more efficient energy, the only way we can expect to truly reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil is to produce more American energy and use less. This may sound like a simple proposal. The best solutions usually are. Unfortunately, the idea of finding more energy at home and using less is needlessly controversial because some are unwilling to admit that a gap exists between the energy we need now and the energy we want, and still others do not like a number of our proposals for finding more domestic energy.

Here is what we have proposed. We propose building 100 new clean nuclear energy plants as soon as possible. We propose offshore exploration for natural gas and oil. We propose making plug-in electric cars and trucks half of all new vehicles sold in 20 years. And we propose doubling research and development on energy to make all of this possible. These and other proposals, including the development of clean coal and coal-to-liquids technologies, constitute a balanced, comprehensive approach that would do all the things we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, help reduce our consumption, and build the bridge to a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

This approach would strengthen our economy by preserving jobs in existing industries even as we create new jobs by investing in new technologies. It would enhance our security by reducing our dependence on foreign suppliers. And it would help the environment by embracing the cleaner, more efficient energy sources of the future.

All of us recognize we should reduce the amount of energy we use. We also recognize the energy we use should be as clean as possible, as reliable as possible, and as inexpensive as possible. Our balanced approach of finding more American energy and using less would bring about all these things without hurting the economy or disrupting our lives or hindering security.

So as the summer driving season continues, Americans will be reminded, once again, that our Nation's energy crisis has not gone away. But the approach I have outlined addresses that crisis head-on. Republicans will continue to speak out about the produce-more, use-less model. We hope our friends on the other side recognize it is the only sensible approach to a crisis that must be addressed.

Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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