July 11, 2007

SENATE-PASSED ENERGY BILL BRINGS US CLOSER TO ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

The U.S. Senate recently passed an energy package that included my goal of achieving U.S. independence from foreign energy by mandating that we get the vast majority of our energy from domestic sources.   

 

In passing the CLEAN Energy Act , the Senate understood that to achieve energy independence we need an Apollo-like mission similar to the effort that it took to put a man on the moon in the 1960s.   We need to achieve energy independence, which is defined as having 90% of our energy needs met by domestic sources. Today, only about 70% of our energy comes from domestic sources.

 

I am particularly pleased that the recently passed Senate bill includes my proposal of a bipartisan National Commission on Energy Independence that would create a framework in which we can continue to monitor and adjust our nation's energy policy to ensure that we achieve energy independence as soon as possible. That's an important commitment because our continued dependence on foreign energy threatens our economy, endangers our national security, harms our environment, and contributes to global warming.

 

Petroleum accounts for 84% of our nation's imported energy.   Transportation accounts for approximately 28% of all energy used in the United Stats. An important provision in the Senate bill is a significant increase in CAFÉ standards from 25 mpg to 35 mpg by 2020.   This increase will help reduce American gasoline consumption by more than 1 million gallons a day.

 

The Senate bill also calls for research and development of renewable fuels. Maryland companies are at the forefront of biodiesel development, solar technology, wind power and cellulosic energy. This legislation will ensure that more Americans have access to renewable fuel.

 

I was disappointed that the Senate-passed energy bill failed to include a package of tax changes cutting oil and gas subsidies and using those resources to create incentives for renewable energy.   I also was disappointed that the bill did not include a Renewable Portfolio Standard, which would have required utilities to get a percentage of their power from renewable energy sources.

 

We have more important work to do, but the Senate bill moves us in the right direction as we chart a course that will bring us to energy independence.   This legislation now moves over to the House for consideration.