Hillary Clinton on Energy & Oil
Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)
A: Well, I actually have a four-part program that I would put into effect were I president today to deal with these rising gas prices. I would go after the energy traders and speculators. I would close the “Enron loophole.” I voted to quit filling up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I have advocated a gas tax holiday that is paid for, out of the record profits of the oil companies. And it’s an enormous burden on people who drive any considerable distance.
Q: But what kind of leverage do you have on OPEC?
A: Nine countries that are members of OPEC are members of the WTO, where they have agreed to certain rules that I believe OPEC by definition violates. Also, we have never used antitrust laws in our country to really go at the heart of what is a monopoly cartel.
Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , May 18, 2008
The Clinton TV ad says her plan would “save families $8 billion” then adds derisively, “Barack Obama says that’s just pennies.” $8 billion is accurate in total, but most economists believe that only a portion of the 18.4 cents a gallon tax would revert to consumers in the event of a tax holiday. The net benefit to consumers would be between 9 and 12 cents per gallon.
The average American family of four consumes 2000 gallons of gasoline a year, or 5.4 gallons a day. Clinton’s proposal would save such a family between 48 and 64 cents a day. This figure is comparable with the estimate of 30 cents per day per driver that Obama claimed.
A: #1, we are going to investigate these gas prices. The federal government has tools that this administration will not use, in the Federal Trade Commission, because I believe there is market manipulation going on, particularly among energy traders. We’ve seen this movie before, in Enron, and we’ve got to get to the bottom to make sure we’re not being taken advantage of. #2, I would quit putting oil into the Strategi Petroleum Reserve and I would release some to help drive the price down globally. And #3, if there is any kind of gas tax moratorium, as some people are now proposing--
Q: Like John McCain.
A:--like John McCain, and some Democrats, frankly. What I would like to see us do is, if we have $4 gas, then we should have a windfall profits tax on these outrageous oil company profits, and put that money back into the highway trust fund, so that we don’t lose out on repair & construction & rebuilding.
In an article we posted when John Edwards raised this issue, we noted that the FTC has repeatedly looked into allegations of market manipulation and fixing of gasoline prices. So far, it has found nothing to prosecute, not even in the post-Hurricane Katrina gas price spikes.
The FTC isn’t sitting on its hands as prices shoot skyward, at least according to information on its Web site. It monitors retail gas prices in 360 U.S. cities, to look for suspicious pricing. But the FTC does not disclose its ongoing investigations.
A: I believe there is so much we can do that would not demonstrably undermine our standard of living, but it would give us the opportunity to set an example an to be a model. There are simple steps any one of us can take--turning off lights when one leaves a room, unplugging appliances, changing to compact fluorescent bulbs--my husband and I have done that & we feel like we’re making a small contribution to limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. I hope that, as president, I can model that and lead that effort so that people don’t feel so threatened by the changes we’re talking about when it comes to dealing with global warming. And we can do more. Now there’s so much that I have to do as president with the cap-and-trade system, with moving away from our dependence on foreign oil, but I’m going to look for ways that will cushion the costs on middle class and working and poor people.
A: We have to stimulate the economy. I began calling for some kind of economic action plan back at the beginning of December. I have a package of $110 billion; $70 billion of that would go towards dealing with the mortgage crisis. I would have a moratorium on home foreclosures for 90 days to try to help families work it out so that they don’t lose their homes. I want to have an interest rate freeze for 5 years. Then, I think we need to give people about $650, if they qualify--which will be millions of people--to help pay their energy bills this winter. There are so many people on fixed incomes and working people who are not going to be able to afford the spike in energy costs. And then we will have money for rebates, but let’s make them the right rebates. A lot of our seniors on fixed incomes don’t pay income taxes. But that doesn’t mean they’re immune from the energy costs.
While it’s true that Republican lawmakers had once considered large tax breaks for oil and gas companies in the bill, the biggest of them had been stripped out of the bill by the time it passed.
It’s true that the Energy Policy Act contained $14.3 billion in tax breaks, but most went to electric utilities for such things as incentives for new transmission lines & “clean coal” facilities, and also for incentives for alternative fuels research and subsidies for energy efficient cars and homes.
The bill did give $2.6 billion in tax breaks for oil companies, but those were offset by $2.9 billion in tax increases.
A: No, but it would not be one of the options that I favor, unless, number one, the cost can get down for the construction and operation; number two, that we have a viable solution for the nuclear waste. I voted against Yucca Mountain. I’ve spoken out against Yucca Mountain. I think that recently the discovery--there’s an earthquake fault going under the proposed site at Yucca Mountain--certainly validates my opposition. So there are a lot of very difficult questions. But we’re going to have to look at the entire energy profile, in order to determine how we’re going to move away from our dependence upon carbon-based fuels. And I will look at everything, but there are some tough questions you’d have to answer with respect to nuclear.
All that changed after 9/11 and the Iraqi War. With oil prices soaring and mounting evidence of the destructive impacts of climate change, everyone began to take the issue more seriously. Sen. John McCain and Hillary led delegations of more skeptical senators to northern Norway and Alaska to see the already clear impact of warming for themselves. Other countries proved that clean efficient energy use could be profitable. While the US government was condemning Kyoto as a threat to growth, the United Kingdom determined to beat its Kyoto reduction target by 25% to 50%, and in so doing created enough good jobs to enjoy something we Americans didn't--rising wages and declining inequality. Germany is now the number one producer of wind energy, and Japan leads the world in the production and installation of solar panels.
A: I’m agnostic about nuclear power. Until we figure out what we’re going to do with the waste and the cost, it’s very hard to see nuclear as a part of our future. But that’s where American technology comes in. Let’s figure out what we’re going to do about the waste and the cost if we think nuclear should be a part of the solution.
CLINTON: First of all, I have proposed a strategic energy fund that I would fund by taking away the tax break for the oil companies, which have gotten much greater under Bush and Cheney.Actually, the highly publicized energy bill the president signed in 2005 raised taxes slightly on the oil industry as a whole. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided about $2.6 billion of tax cuts for the oil and gas industry, plus $2.9 billion of tax increases, for a net tax increase on the industry of nearly $300 million over 11 years.
It’s true that many generous subsidies were proposed and debated, but those were stripped out before the bill was passed. The final bill contained $14.3 billion in tax breaks, but the bulk of the cuts went to electric utilities, and nuclear, and also to alternative fuels research and subsidies for energy-efficiency--not to the oil industry.
[In a speech introducing the plan,] after praising solar power and wind technology, Hillary turned her attention to her villains--the oil companies--and discussed the legislation she hoped to pass that would force them to change their ways. Unless they diversified away from fossil fuels and into preferred, renewable technologies, her bill would require that they be assessed heavy windfall-profits taxes. This new revenue source, estimated at $50 billion, would finance a government energy fund that invested in innovative energy research.
Hillary introduced her promised legislation to create a federal “Strategic Energy Fund” financed by oil company taxes. But her energy bill, while music to the ears of the Left, overreached her colleagues. Hillary could not find another senator to cosponsor her bill.
The next day there was a plenary session on global warming. The marquee attraction was Al Gore. Hillary and Gore had vied for Bill’s attention during his presidency, and that rivalry had only intensified after the Clintons left the White House. Bill privately told confidants that he believed that if Hillary emerged as the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Gore would enter as a left-of-Hillary alternative.
One month later, Hillary unveiled a comprehensive clean-energy plan, along the lines she had mentioned at the conference. She suffered the same fate as Gore: Nobody paid attention.
In May 2006, Clinton unveiled a proposal for a “virtual revolution” in energy, to decrease the use of foreign oil by 8 million barrels a day by 2025. The plan called for the creation of a $50 billion “strategic energy fund” by increasing taxes on oil companies. Clinton also suggested the government force oil firms to invest in unproven, renewable fuels like ethanol.
Clinton, in short, sought to reallocate money from fuel that consumers do buy (oil) to fuel that they don’t buy (renewables). Clinton’s plan was consistent with her tenacious opposition to any measure allowing oil companies to increase domestic drilling [both in ANWR and off the US coast].
A: I’ve spoken about an energy policy that would include conservation tax credits that the Republicans have blocked. The administration has put forth an energy policy that we couldn’t get through that Republican leadership that my opponent is part of. We need a new Congress. I was pleased when the president did release some oil from the reserve. So we have work to do and it needs to be led by Democrats who understand that we shouldn’t be beholden to big oil.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This legislation seeks to end the unwarranted tax breaks & subsidies which have been lavished on Big Oil over the last several years, at a time of record prices at the gas pump and record oil industry profits. Big Oil is hitting the American taxpayer not once, not twice, but three times. They are hitting them at the pump, they are hitting them through the Tax Code, and they are hitting them with royalty holidays put into oil in 1995 and again in 2005.
It is time to vote for the integrity of America's resources, to vote for the end of corporate welfare, to vote for a new era in the management of our public energy resources.
Opponents support voting NO because:
I am wearing this red shirt today, because this shirt is the color of the bill that we are debating, communist red. It is a taking. It will go to court, and it should be decided in court.
This bill will increase the competitive edge of foreign oil imported to this country. If the problem is foreign oil, why increase taxes and make it harder to produce American oil and gas? That makes no sense. We should insert taxes on all foreign oil imported. That would raise your money for renewable resources. But what we are doing here today is taxing our domestic oil. We are raising dollars supposedly for renewable resources, yet we are still burning fossil fuels.
Status: Bill passed Bill passed, 65-27
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
Our NOPEC bill will authorize filing suit against nations that participate in a conspiracy to limit the supply, or fix the price, of oil. In addition, it will specify that the doctrines of sovereign immunity do not exempt nations that participate in oil cartels from basic antitrust law.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
No one likes OPEC. But this amendment, in my opinion, would make bad law. The Framers of the Constitution wisely assigned responsibility for formulating foreign policy and conducting foreign relations to the President and to the Congress, not to the law courts.
The amendment before us has its roots in a lawsuit filed by the labor union nearly 30 years ago. The union at that time charged OPEC with price fixing in violation of our antitrust laws. The trial court dismissed the case on the ground that OPEC members are sovereign nations and are immune from suit. Adopting the amendment will undoubtedly be very popular, but it is also very unwise.
In addition, we here in the Senate ought to consider how enactment of this amendment might affect our relations with OPEC members. What will be the international repercussions when the US starts awarding judgments against foreign nations and attaching their assets in this country? Will other nations start to view our trade policies--such as our nuclear trade restrictions--as violations of their antitrust laws?
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
It just seems logical that we ask the Corps of Engineers to include in their analyses, judgments about the potential impact of global climate change. All this amendment seeks to do, as a matter of common sense, is to ask the Army Corps of Engineers to factor climate change into their future plans. Secondly, we are making a statement here to finally recognize the reality of what is happening with respect to climate change.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
The same people today who are saying we are all going to die from global warming, just back in the middle 1970s were saying another ice age is coming and we are all going to die. Which way do you want it?
If a surge of anthropogenic gases--this CO2, methane, or whatever it is--were causing a warming period, then around 1945 we would have a warming period because in the middle 1940s we had the greatest increase in greenhouse gases. But what happened? It did not precipitate a warming period.
Peer reviewed evidence shows that the sun has actually been driving the temperature change. You don't have to be a scientist to know that the Sun can have something to do with climate change.
Implementing Kyoto would reduce the average annual household income nearly $2,700, at a time when the cost of all goods would rise sharply.
Modernize Environmental Policies
National environmental policies, mostly developed in the 1970s, have been remarkably successful in improving the quality of our air and water. But we face a new set of environmental challenges for which the old strategy of centralized, command-and-control regulation is no longer effective.
The old regime of prohibitions and fines levied on polluters is not well equipped to tackle problems such as climate change, contamination of water from such sources as farm and suburban runoff, loss of open lands, and sprawl. Without relaxing our determination to maintain and enforce mandatory national standards for environmental quality, it is time to create more effective, efficient, and flexible ways of achieving those standards.
For example, a system of tradable emissions permits would give factories, power plants, and other sources of air pollution and greenhouse gases a powerful incentive not only to meet but to exceed environmental standards. Decisions about solving local environmental problems should be shifted from Washington to communities, without weakening national standards. Finally, to empower citizens and communities to make sound decisions, government should invest in improving the quality and availability of information about environmental conditions.
Mr. President: A recent federal court decision regarding energy efficient air conditioners is a significant victory for consumers, for the environment, and for our nation's energy future. We respectfully request that you do not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District (Natural Resources Defense Council et al v. Abraham, Docket 01-4102) affirmed that central air conditioners sold beginning in 2006 must be at least 30% more energy efficient than those available today.
Air conditioners are a necessary modern convenience but are also major users of electricity. On hot days, cooling homes and businesses is the largest category of electricity demand. Requiring air conditioners to be as energy efficient as possible will begin to reduce the stress on the electricity generation and transmission network and decrease the likelihood of blackouts that many regions of the country experience during warm weather conditions.
Air conditioners that meet the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating 13 standard will provide benefits for consumers, the environment, and the nation. The SEER 13 standard will alleviate the need for additional electricity production and transmission resulting in as many as 48 fewer power plants required by 2020. This standard will also result in less harmful air pollution being emitted into the atmosphere. Moreover, by 2020 power plant emissions of carbon dioxide will be 2.5 million tons lower as a result, and emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides will also be held down resulting in cleaner air and healthier citizens.
Finally, the higher standard can be expected to save businesses and residential consumers $1 billion per year in lower electricity bills. Lower electricity bills will recover the slightly higher purchase cost for the more efficient air conditioners in less than 18 months.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to provide for a program of scientific research on abrupt climate change, to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the US by establishing a market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances, to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the US and reduce dependence upon foreign oil, and ensure benefits to consumers from the trading in such allowances.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This bill is designed to begin a meaningful and shared effort among the emission-producing sectors of our country to address the world's greatest environmental challenge--climate change.
The National Academy of Sciences reported, "temperatures are, in fact, rising." The overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is real, that it is happening as we speak.
Terrible things are happening at the poles, which will have global implications. Amplified global warming, rising sea levels, and potential alterations in ocean circulation patterns are among the global concerns.
The International Climate Change Task Force recommended that "all developed countries introduce mandatory cap-and-trade systems for carbon emissions and construct them to allow for future integration into a single global market." That is already being done in Europe as we speak, which is the substance of this legislation.
If we do not move on this issue, our children and grandchildren are going to pay an incredibly heavy price because this crisis is upon us, only we do not see its visible aspects in all of its enormity. We have done relatively nothing besides gather additional data and make reports. That is what the US national policy is today: gather information and make reports. I would argue that is a pretty heavy burden to lay on future generations of Americans.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; never came to a vote.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to require atomic energy plants to notify the Atomic Energy Commission, and the State and county in which a facility is located, whenever there is an unplanned release of fission products in excess of allowable limits.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: It was recently announced by Exelon Nuclear that an environmental monitoring program discovered higher than normal concentrations of tritium in the groundwater near their Nuclear Generating Station. Indications are that this tritium plume is the result of an accidental radioactive wastewater release that occurred approximately 6 to 8 years ago. Community residents did not receive full or immediate notification of this contamination.
I was surprised to learn, that while Federal law requires notification immediately upon a "declared emergency," Federal law does not require notification of any other accidental, unplanned, or unintentional radioactive substance releases that may occur if those releases do not immediately rise to a public health or safety threat. And while those incidents must be documented with the NRC and made available to the public, accessing that information is contingent upon the public actually knowing that these incidents ever occurred.
When radioactive substances are released into the environment outside of normal operating procedures, notifying State and local officials should not be a courtesy; it should be the law.
It is reasonable--and realistic--for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration. Illinois has 11 nuclear power plants--the most of any state. The people of Illinois--and all residents who live near nuclear power plants--have a right to know when actions are taken that might affect their safety and well-being.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar; never came to a vote.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CAF scores as follows:
The Campaign for America's Future (CAF) is a center for ideas and action that works to build an enduring majority for progressive change. The Campaign advances a progressive economic agenda and a vision of the future that works for the many, not simply the few. The Campaign is leading the fight for America's priorities--against privatization of Social Security, for investment in energy independence, good jobs and a sustainable economy, for an ethical and accountable Congress and for high quality public education.
About the CAF report, "Energy Independence: Record vs. Rhetoric":
Energy independence has surfaced as a defining issue in the current elections. Are most candidates and both parties truly committed? To help distinguish the demonstrated level of support for homegrown, clean energy alternatives, we examined the voting records of current U.S. Representatives and Senators on bills vital to promoting those interests. Key pieces of legislation included goals for independence, and subsidies for the development of alternatives compared to subsidies for drilling and digging. We then compared votes on these issues with campaign contributions from major oil interests. The results show strong inverse correlations between political contributions from big oil and votes for energy independence.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, DESIGNATION OF PORTION OF ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AS WILDERNESS.
The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 is amended by adding at the end the following:
Designation of Certain Land as Wilderness- Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska comprising approximately 1,559,538 acres, as generally depicted on a map entitled 'Arctic National Wildlife Refuge--1002 Area. Alternative E--Wilderness Designation, October 28, 1991' and available for inspection in the offices of the Secretary, is designated as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System under the Wilderness Act'.
A resolution that it is the goal of the United States that, not later than January 1, 2025, the agricultural, forestry, and working land of the US should provide from renewable resources not less than 25% of the total energy consumed and continue to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed, and fiber. [Governors also signed letters of endorsement at www.25x25.org]
Rep. SALAZAR: "Our resolution establishes a national goal of producing 25% of America's energy from renewable sources--like solar, wind and biofuels--by 2025. The "25x'25" vision is widely endorsed, bold, and fully attainable. If implemented, it would dramatically improve our energy security, our economy, and our ability to protect the environment.
"I am pleased that more than 20 of my colleagues in the Senate, from both sides of the aisle, are cosponsoring this resolution. In addition, the "25x'25" vision has been endorsed by 22 current and former governors and several State legislatures across the country. The Big Three automobile manufacturers--Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors--are all behind "25x'25" So are many agricultural organizations, environmental groups, scientists, and businesses, ranging from the Natural Resources Defense Council to John Deere.
"These Americans understand that we cannot continue to import 60% of our oil from foreign countries, many of which are hostile to the US, if we aim to be strong and secure in the world. They know that we will have to build a clean energy economy if we are to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is time for Congress to take a more active role in our clean energy future. Establishing a national goal--"25x'25" is the first step."
A bill to permit California and other States to effectively control greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, and for other purposes. Amends the Clean Air Act to approve the application of the state of California for a waiver of federal preemption of its motor vehicle emission standards.
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to suspend excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels between May 26, 2008, and September 1, 2008. Provides for reimbursement from the Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund for any reduction in Trust Fund receipts resulting from such suspension.
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