Harold Ford on Energy & Oil
Former Democratic Representative (TN-9, 1997-2007)
FORD: We need energy independence. We can’t win a war on terror if you pay for both sides of the war at the same time. That’s what we’re doing. We have the capacity & ingenuity to grow our way out of these challenges. I have a lot of confidence in farmers to grow our way out of it, & in laboratories to use nuclear energy & coal in new ways. Our oil dependence is environmentally hazardous; it’s a drag on the economy; and it keeps young men facing the prospect of going overseas to defend an untenable appetite for oil. I know we can break our habit and find new ways to fuel our cars & power our homes. My campaign chairman is a farmer. His campaign chairman runs a big ol’ oil company.
Q: Do you support drilling in Alaska?
FORD: I do.
CORKER: I strongly support biofuel. My campaign chairman runs a retail operation, the largest seller of ethanol and biodiesel in Tennessee.
FORD: If my campaign chairman were in big oil, I’d be trying to explain it away too.
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.
Blue Dogs believe in a balanced energy plan that expands our energy supply by promoting a diverse energy mix. As a country blessed with a diverse energy portfolio of traditional fossil fuels and viable renewable energy sources, we believe it is critical to promote a forward-looking, market-based, and balanced national energy strategy. We must encourage research and development in new energy technologies that promote the greatest level of conservation at home, in business, and in industry. Reducing national energy intensity through energy efficient applications can save consumers and business billions in extra energy costs while also reducing polluting emissions. Pursuing these collective goals will strengthen our energy security, diversify our energy mix, and provide Americans with reliable and affordable energy sources.
Title: To preserve the Arctic coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, as wilderness in recognition of its extraordinary natural ecosystems and for the permanent good of present and future generations of Americans.
Summary: Designates specified lands within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System [which would preclude oil exploration and drilling].
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.
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Senate Votes (analysis)