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Public Statements

Energy Policy

Location: Washington, DC - Senate

Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, this is shaping up to be an auspicious time for an Energy Bill, as we begin a year long celebration of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday. Benjamin Franklin was the embodiment of a ``renaissance man.'' He was a small business owner, a diplomat, an accomplished author, a scientist, and one of our Nation's greatest Founding Fathers. It is his role as a scientist that I want to focus on today and suggest that the best birthday present we could give him would be to honor his work and pass a balanced, forward-looking and scientifically-based Energy bill this year.

Americans learn from childhood the story of Franklin and his breakthrough experiment with a kite and lightening. In today's world, it is hard to imagine that a politician as accomplished as Benjamin Franklin would also make such a profound contribution to science. But, he did. Franklin's contribution to science was profound because his experiment with a kite and lightning proved that electricity was a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Before that, superstition governed man's interaction with electricity. It used to be that people believed the devil hurled electric bolts from the sky. So when a lightening storm was brewing, churches sent people to ring the bells to ward them off. Tragically, this same superstition seems to often guide our policies today.

Franklin's pioneering work with electricity is so instructive because it reminds us that we need to put reason and science before superstition and myth. Electricity was once a dangerous force in the world that, thanks to Franklin and Edison, we have now harnessed to provide power and light, life and hope, and the greatest prosperity the world has ever known. This remains our challenge today. If we want to continue to generate power for future generations, we must harness powerful forces--solar rays, geothermal steam, nuclear fusion, wave energy and new generations of fossil fuel technology.

To do so, we must abandon superstition, misinformation and fear.

The area of sharpest interest to the People of Louisiana in this bill, is also surely one of the areas most in need of reason over superstition--oil and gas production, both on shore and on the Outer Continental Shelf. As we are all aware, the United States has an abundant demand for fossil fuels, but also a great need to use them wisely.

We comprise about 5 percent of the world's population, but we consume more than 25 percent of the world's oil production--roughly 20 million barrels per day. Some projections have the country's oil consumption hitting 29 million barrels a day by 2025--nearly a 30 percent increase. With the price of oil hovering around $50 a barrel, this is a chilling proposition.

And for our own purposes today, it should also be a motivating proposition.

The global picture is even more difficult. China, with its rapidly growing economy, 1.3 billion people, and millions of new cars, has just passed Japan to become the second largest consumer of oil after the U.S. In 2003, China consumed more than 5 million barrels per day, of which more than 35 percent was imported. By 2030 it is estimated that China will need 12 million barrels per day. India, with its 1 billion people and surging economy, also has a growing need for a reliable energy supply.

Despite this impending crisis, is the United States trying to secure its future by maximizing its own domestic production of natural sources of renewable energy? Absolutely not. Instead, like medieval villagers, we are running up to the bell towers when lightening is striking.

We have young American soldiers securing Iraq. I support democracy for Iraq; I support democracy for all people of the world. But what separates Iraq from brutal dictatorships in other places? The answer is obvious--the second largest oil reserve in the world.

So young American men and women are sacrificing their lives every day to cover for our superstitions and political gridlock in Washington.

We have lost 1,622 Americans in Iraq--that's more than 2 American soldiers per day of occupation. We have to play the cards that we are dealt, but just because we got a tough hand doesn't mean that we should, in good conscience, pass an energy bill that does not diminish our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

That is why it is so important that we write an energy bill that provides smart, efficient incentives for the United States to maximize its own domestic energy production, using all the avenues that are available to us to diversify our supply and to encourage competition that would drive down and stabilize prices.

Vitally for my State, this must include a recognition of the contribution that coastal states, particularly states along the Gulf Coast, make to energy production now.

The coast of Louisiana is not a regular coast. In supporting the production and transportation of 80 percent of our Nation's offshore oil supply, it is truly America's Wetland--and with its loss, America faces a national emergency. In the past 50 years alone, Louisiana's size has been reduced by an area larger than that of Rhode Island, and continues to wear away at the rate of one football field every half hour.

If the Rocky Mountains were to shrink by 10 feet every year, we would act. If a foreign army were to advance a hundred yards up our shore every 38 minutes, we would act.

Because of the vast array of energy resources Louisiana and other coastal States supply and protect, coastal erosion in our States presents a direct threat to our national security and the global economy.

We must act--and while the waves eat away our shores, the solution may lie just beneath their surface.

In the early days of this Nation, Benjamin Franklin and his colleagues looked to the western frontier for its rich resources and the promise of new economic and military security, just as their ancestors had looked to the seas with the same thoughts in mind.

Today, our oceans have reemerged as a great frontier capable of helping build a stronger, more secure and more economically stable Nation. We have learned that through new technologies, when managed well and wisely, the ocean frontier holds tremendous resources that may be put to work for America.

Harnessed beneath the surface of this great frontier lies the energy to light our homes, power our public infrastructure and give birth to even greater achievements.

Little more than a century ago, what we'd call ``Ocean Energy Industry'' was simply one of whaling ships and harpoons. But today, the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS, provides American consumers with 25 percent of the natural gas, and 30 percent of the oil, produced in the country each year.

It also rewards the U.S. Treasury with more than $5 billion annually--$145 billion since production began in 1953. That is the second biggest contributor of revenue to our Federal Treasury after taxes.

But it has costs, and it is perfectly reasonable for States to want assistance with those costs.

The Mineral Lands Leasing Act shares with interior States 50 percent of the revenues generated on Federal land within their borders. In serving as the platforms that support a vital component of our national energy supply, coastal States deserve the same treatment. And so, last week, I introduced the Stewardship for our Coasts and Opportunities for Reliable Energy Act--or SCORE--which does just that ..... It gives coastal States the same 50 percent share of the oil and gas revenues for their work that interior States receive for their efforts to support production.

This is more than just sound economic and energy policy--it is a simple demonstration of fairness.

The OCS supplies more oil to our Nation than any foreign power--including Saudi Arabia--and it is estimated that 60 percent of our Nation's undiscovered oil and gas will be found on the shelf. And so, as we take to the seas again, we are not hunting the elusive Moby Dick of lore..... We know where the bulk of this oil may be found.

But just as the Western frontier once represented a great unknown to our Nation's policymakers, the impact and reality of the OCS seems lost in a time warp. We exist on outdated policies, and while our production has increased somewhat, we haven't even built a new refinery in a decade.

We also have yet to adequately answer the question, ``Why should a State contribute to our energy independence?'' and have failed to take the necessary steps to encourage them to do so.

Last year, we commemorated the 200th Anniversary of Lewis and Clark's adventure into the frontier. It is a prominent historical event for Louisiana, because it marks the culmination of the promise of the Louisiana purchase. Thirty-eight soldiers and scouts set out with Lewis and Clark, and they called themselves the Corps of Discovery.

Hopefully, our body can take up their mantle and emulate their exploring spirit in the passing of this bill.

Today, we are exploring only 43 million of the 1.67 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf--less than 2.6 percent! If Lewis and Clark had taken this same timid tactic, they would have stopped just short of Cincinnati, and the history of our country would have been vastly different. Instead, Lewis and Clark ventured on for another 8,000 miles and helped to open our western frontier. Let us do the same!

Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the adventure, was eager to have a full understanding of the economic potential of his great bargain. This was an act of political will--for no sooner did the trip commence, than Congress began complaining about its expense. Thus, even Lewis and Clark's voyages were seemingly subject to the mindless penny pinching of ``302(b)'' allocations.

What they were trying to discover was the economic potential and natural resources of this great country. It was a fundamental exercise of reason over myth. Jefferson sought new trading relationships with the native tribes, sought an overland route to the Pacific for nascent trade with China, and wanted to know of the quality of land for agriculture.

What he did not do was let ignorance and fear govern policy.

Yet when it comes to the Outer Continental Shelf, we are doing just that. Not only do we not know the full riches that lie off our coasts, policymakers around here don't want to go, don't want to see, and don't want to know.

While the OCS contains more than 60 percent of the Nation's remaining undiscovered oil and natural gas resources, 85 percent of the OCS in the lower 48 States

remains untouchable ..... blocked by Congressional moratoria and administrative withdrawal.

While 98 percent of our current OCS production comes from a very concentrated area--the western half of the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Louisiana and Texas--most of the Pacific Coast remains off limits. Most of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico . . . off limits. And the entire Atlantic seaboard ..... off limits.

At the same time, our demand for, and supply of, oil and gas are moving in opposite directions. Over the next 20 years, our consumption is expected to increase by 50 percent, but production is only expected to increase by less than half that amount.

Imagine explaining that circumstance to someone like Jefferson or Franklin, Lewis or Clark. They understood the essential fact of progress--you can't discover if you don't look.

It is time for a full accounting of the resources of the OCS. Technology has provided us with a modern Corps of Discovery that will be no more intrusive than the 40 men in the wilderness 200 years ago. With scientific data in hand, then we can have a meaningful argument about the efficacy of what to do with our natural resources.

For example, through the effective use of technology, we have produced three times as many resources as we thought existed 30 years ago--and have produced them in an environmentally friendly way . . . The Minerals Management Service estimates that from 1985 to 2001, OCS offshore facilities and pipelines accounted for only 2 percent of the oil released into U.S. waters. In fact, 97 percent of OCS spills are one barrel or less in volume. Obviously, just a little technology can go a long way.

What is disappointing to me is that the mythology around oil and gas production--its potential hazards and challenges--stems from stories nearly 50 years old. We live in an information driven economy, but many in the environmental community have a very industrial age approach to these challenges.

We ban; we prohibit; we restrict. Instead we should research, innovate and improve.

Several nights ago, I was up late watching an odd documentary. It was about the history of bringing hot water to our homes at the turn of the century. It's something we all take for granted now, but if you contemplate it, it was a difficult engineering problem years ago. Like all new technologies, water heaters were once a lot less reliable than they are now. In fact, when they first started to be installed in people's homes, they frequently blew sky high. That was tragic, and we are all relieved that we've moved beyond that stage in technology.

But, the lesson is that even though tragic injuries occurred, when there was great societal benefit to be had, technology kept on leading the way. That is what has already occurred in oil and gas. There is clearly more that can be done.

I invite any Member of the Senate to join me on an offshore platform. You will see something that looks a lot less like an industrial plant and more like a spaceship . . . A spaceship for which our coastal producing States provide the launch pads.

More can be done, but you will be amazed at what has already been accomplished.

The SCORE Act helps motivate States to consider the potential that lies on the frontier off their coasts, and hopes to inspire a new era of technological advancement and energy invention. As we begin to comprehend the Ocean Frontier, we need to partner with industry to develop the necessary science.

Safety and environmental sensitivity should be the watchwords of our stewardship. It is a lesson that we take with us from our collective experience. To ensure this remains a priority for industry, we need to reinvest some of the resources that we are collecting. That is the way forward--not ignorance and fear, but reason and stewardship.

No one understood the importance of stewardship more than Theodore Roosevelt, whose memorial I visited yesterday with the Senator from Tennessee, Mr. Alexander. Two of Roosevelt's greatest legacies--the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and Breton Island National Wildlife Refuge--lie just off Louisiana's coast. They were the first refuges he created, but as we know, they were not the last . . . and the lives of generations of Americans continue to be enriched by these gifts to us.

In his only trip to one of the refuges he created, Roosevelt visited Louisiana's barrier islands in 1915 . . . but much of the landscape he visited no longer exists, having been washed away by coastal erosion. Reflecting on the visit, he wrote in his autobiography, A Book Lover's Holidays in the Open:

To lose the chance to see frigate-birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or myriad terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach--why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time.

Unfortunately, even with the efforts of conservation visionaries like Roosevelt, the story of the past 100 years has been one of continued coastal and wildlife losses. Consider that Battledore Island, the `gallery of masterpiece' of which he wrote, is no more. Today, fishermen know it as Battledore Reef.

It is too late for Battledore Island, but it is not too late to save countless other natural treasures around our Nation. While President Roosevelt's vision is still alive, there is much work left to be done ..... and today we have an opportunity to carry on his legacy of conservation and write a different ending to the story he began so long ago.

The Americans Outdoors Act, which I have introduced with Senator Alexander, is a significant start. In our Government today, you will be hard pressed to find a closer embodiment of Roosevelt's legacy than in Senator Alexander, and I am so very proud to be working with him in this effort.

AOA would mark our Government's greatest commitment of resources to conservation ever, and would directly benefit all 50 States and hundreds of local communities through its landmark, multiyear commitment to coastal restoration and other conservation programs like the state side of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It, like SCORE, would also set forward a crucial first step to restoring America's vital wetlands and the billions of dollars in energy investments they protect.

When Hurricane Ivan struck back in September, it should have been a wake-up call to us all. Although the storm did not hit Louisiana directly, its impact on the price and supply of oil and gas in this country could still be felt 4 months later. One can only imagine what the impact would have been had Ivan cut a more western path in the gulf. How many more hurricane seasons are we going to spend playing Russian roulette with our oil and gas supply?

But the diversity of our energy supply is just as important as the increased production of it. And our atmosphere protects us much in the same way as our coasts. We have an obligation to serve as responsible stewards of both.

Mr. President, it will come as no surprise to you that fear, rather than science, also seems to dominate our policy with respect to nuclear energy. There are some startling facts that most Americans probably do not know today. Nuclear energy--today--despite not having licensed a new plant in 27 years--provides 20 percent of America's electricity. Most importantly, it does so without any emissions.

This is a resource that is produced 100 percent domestically. No one has to bring in a new LNG plant for nuclear energy, no one has to defend critical supply lines for nuclear energy, no one has to cap and trade emissions for nuclear energy. Yet a policy driven by fear and superstition keep the United States in a technological backwater. Between our fear of oil and gas production, our near hysteria toward nuclear power, and our rejection of clean coal options, the United States is living in a kind of energy technology dark ages.

Rather than harnessing powerful forces that could bring light and energy to this Nation. We are being ruled by superstition and fear, and we have to bring these attitudes to an end. The alternative is even more bleak. While the U.S. ignores nuclear power, our economic rivals in Japan and France are pulling away from us. More menacing still, the Chinese are threatening to leap-frog U.S. technology in this arena. Spencer Reiss wrote in a recent article entitled Let a Thousand Reactors Bloom:

The Future of Nuclear Power, a 2003 study by a blue-ribbon commission headed by former CIA director John Deutch, concludes that by 2050 the PRC could require the equivalent of 200 full-scale nuke plants. A team of Chinese scientists advising the Beijing leadership puts the figure even higher: 300 gigawatts of nuclear output, not much less than the 350 gigawatts produced worldwide today.

To meet that growing demand, China's leaders are pursuing two strategies. They're turning to established nuke plant makers like AECL, Framatome, Mitsubishi, and Westinghouse, which supplied key technology for China's nine existing atomic power facilities. But they're also pursuing a second, more audacious course. Physicists and engineers at Beijing's Tsinghua University have made the first great leap forward in a quarter century, building a new nuclear power facility that promises to be a better way to harness the atom: a pebble-bed reactor. A reactor small enough to be assembled from mass-produced parts and cheap enough for customers without billion-dollar bank accounts. A reactor whose safety is a matter of physics, not operator skill or reinforced concrete. And, for a bona fide fairy-tale ending, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is labeled hydrogen.

With this sort of news, one begins to wonder if there is any set of circumstances that will dissuade the Congress from its wrong-headed policies. We cannot afford to keep waiting. I call on my colleagues to resolve once and for all the issues of where to store the byproducts of our nuclear generation.

Technology also harbors other exciting new promises for clean energy. Coal provides 50 percent of our Nation's electrical supply, and now we can use it in a better way. Coal gasification plants--or ``clean coal'' strip out the pollutants that would otherwise be released into the air, allowing us to continue to draw on this abundant natural resource while also respecting our roles as stewards of the environment.

Liquified natural gas also has a significant role in satisfying our clean energy goals while helping to solve our Nation's supply and demand imbalance. But we cannot allow the Gulf of Mexico to simply become a ``thruway'' for LNG without recognizing the role of coastal States that host the terminals and sustain its importation. To this end, terminal siting is not only a Federal concern but a local one as well.

And finally, we simply cannot ignore the promise of hydrogen technology. Senator Dorgan has been one of the Senate's foremost leaders in this regard. I was proud to support his efforts throughout all of the iterations of the Senate Energy bill, and am very pleased to understand that many of them have been incorporated into the Energy chairman's mark.

Beyond these, there are countless alternative resources we have yet to fully explore--resources such as wind, solar and even wave energy--all of which can also be produced on the OCS with the encouragement SCORE provides.

Let me make clear: Increased domestic production and supply diversity are of paramount importance to our energy needs and national security, but no serious energy policy can ignore the equally important need for energy conservation.

Benjamin Franklin was eminently quotable, but one of his more relevant quips is ``When a well's dry, we know the worth of water.'' So it is with America's environment. The cost of global warming will be truly staggering when compared to conservation measures today.

There are a number of points to be raised in that regard.

First, I believe that the U.S. Government should use its power of economies of scale, and large purchasing power to set the best example. Energy efficiency should be a consideration in the design and retrofitting of U.S. Government buildings. Energy savings should be a factor in the enormous fleet of government vehicles.

I have also supported a provision, now included in the Energy chairman's mark, which would call for a reduction in our Nation's oil consumption by 1 million barrels per day over the next 10 years. We currently consume 20 million barrels. With research and technology, these are very attainable goals.

Similarly, the Senate will be best off with a smart Renewable Portfolio Standard--RPS--that it can pass. RPS is a lynchpin that will make alternative technologies commercially viable. It is a vital and logical step in our efforts toward energy independence.

And even as we address the production side of the equation, we need to make sure the energy we produce reaches consumers affordably and reliably. In our handling of OCS revenues, we ask our coastal producing States to give and give with little in return. Equally unfair are our Nation's electrical transmission policies, which expect Louisiana consumers to foot the bill for electricity consumed in other States.

For these reasons, Senator Burr and I earlier this year introduced the Interstate Transmission Act, which seeks to protect local rate payers and make electric reliability standards mandatory.

Today we make new history. It may not be as exciting as Franklin's discoveries about electricity, or require the endurance of the Corps of Discovery. But it may hold the key to America's economic future.

My Ocean Energy Initiative, which includes the Americans Outdoors and SCORE Acts, as well as a series of technology proposals still to come, creates a strong four-step framework for protecting our national economic, military and energy security by increasing, diversifying, and cleaning up our energy production and supply.

We must look for new ideas and new frontiers to support increased, diverse, and clean energy. The Ocean Frontier today presents the most immediate opportunities, but who knows what lies on the next horizon? Space, perhaps?

We must explore these new frontiers and develop the innovative new technologies to do so more effectively and responsibly.

We must share the shelf and other frontiers, so our states aren't left shouldering the burden.

And we must invest in our environment and return to our coasts, forests and green-spaces the respect and recognition befitting what they have given us by way of natural resources. We give back some of what we take.

Through a responsible balance of conservation and innovation, this Ocean Energy Initiative recognizes that the goals of energy security and environmental stewardship need not be mutually exclusive.

Mr. President, we follow in the footsteps of great pioneers: Benjamin Franklin, who put science before superstition; Thomas Jefferson, who opened the American frontier; Lewis and Clark, who journeyed into this frontier and found its rich promise; and Theodore Roosevelt, who saw that a great nation bears a responsibility of stewardship to the ground it is built upon.

If we follow their example, and continue down the path these pioneers blazed to the new frontier, we will have a bill that we can all look back on with pride.

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