Engel Outlines Energy Plan for the Future
Washington, DC -- In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 14, Congressman Eliot Engel outlined the important energy issues confronting our nation and some of the legislation that he will be championing in the 111th Congress.
“As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, I felt it important to put before Congress the main energy obstacles that I see for the next several years and some of the solutions that I am proposing,” said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “I believe that energy issues are going to drive the debate in our nation for years to come. Dependence on foreign oil is one of the greatest challenges that our nation has ever faced. Our national security, economy and environment are all tied to it. We must break our addiction to foreign oil and we must do it right away.”
Rep. Engel is the founder and co-chair of the Oil and National Security Caucus, and co-author of the Dependence Reduction through Innovation in Vehicles and Energy (DRIVE) Act. Below are some highlights of the speech:
* Oil Savings Plan to reduce oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2015, increasing annually to 5 million barrels per day by 2025.
* Open Fuel Standards Act to encourage the production of flex fuel vehicles.
* Imported Ethanol Facilitation Act to help supply the United States with alcohol-based fuelsPush for electric transportation and creation of green jobs.
* Announce his support for Governor Paterson’s “45 by 15” program, whereby New York will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs by 2015 through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy.
* Announce his support for the construction of a green technologies incubator in Mt. Vernon, New York
“By improving our nation’s energy system and methods of consumption we can usher in a brand new era in our history, one where we are not forced to rely on the whims of oil producing nations and the tyrants that lead many of them,” said Engel.
A full text of his remarks follows:
Good evening Madam Speaker.
Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize the many legislative accomplishments of Chairman John Dingell. I have worked with Chairman Dingell since I was elected to Congress more than 20 years ago, and I will always respect him and his work. He is a true legislative champion.
I rise today because I was recently named to the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. This subcommittee is likely to play a major role in drafting legislation to address our nation’s energy crisis. I look forward to working with Chairman Waxman, Subcommittee Chairman Markey, and the rest of my colleagues to develop effective and sensible legislation.
I believe that our dependence on foreign oil is one of the greatest challenges that our nation has ever faced. It threatens our national security; it threatens our economy; and it threatens our environment. Oil prices have recently drifted downward, but we cannot afford to let that lull us into a false sense of complacency.
I am founder and co-chair of the Oil and National Security Caucus, which is designed to raise awareness of the economic and security implications of America’s growing dependence on foreign oil. The caucus consists of Members united by the common goal of developing and promoting practical bipartisan ways to progress toward energy independence.
America’s mission is clear. We must work to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We must grow our economy by protecting existing jobs and creating new ones. And we must build a clean energy future that benefits all citizens. I will work tirelessly with my colleagues to help achieve these goals.
Oil Savings Plan
I will seek the development and implementation of an oil savings plan. The United States consumes 25% of the world’s oil, yet possesses only 3% of the world’s oil reserves. We imported 30% of our oil just a few decades ago. Today we import more than 60%.
I introduced a plan in 2005 with Congressman Jack Kingston as part of our Fuel Choices for American Security Act, and again in 2007 as part of our Dependence Reduction through Innovation in Vehicles and Energy (DRIVE) Act, to require oil savings of 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2015, and increasing annually to 5 million barrels per day by 2025. In 2009, I will introduce and work again to enact similar legislation to help break our addiction to foreign oil.
Open Fuel Standards Act
I will encourage the production of flex fuel vehicles by seeking passage of the Open Fuel Standards Act. The United States transportation sector is 97% reliant on oil, and it accounts for two-thirds of our nation’s overall oil consumption. Every year, 17 million new cars are sold in the United States and, for the most part, these new cars run only on petroleum.
To remedy that, I introduced the Open Fuel Standards Act last year with three of my colleagues – Reps. Jack Kingston, Steve Israel, and Bob Inglis. The Open Fuel Standards Act would require 50% of new cars sold in the United States by 2012, and 80% by 2015, to be flex fuel vehicles. Flex fuel vehicles are automobiles that can use as fuel any combination of gasoline and alcohol – such as ethanol and methanol. It is important to note that alcohol does not mean just ethanol, and ethanol does not mean just corn.
Flex fuel vehicles already exist. They only cost about $100 more than the same car in a gasoline-only version. And the Detroit Three have repeatedly stated their willingness to make 50% of new cars flex fuel vehicles by 2012. An influx of flex fuel vehicles on America’s roads would increase competition and consumer choice in the transportation fuel market, strip oil of its strategic status, and protect consumers from price hikes at the pump.
To help supply America with alcohol-based fuels for its flex fuel vehicles, I plan to facilitate the importation of ethanol by introducing the Imported Ethanol Facilitation Act – which was introduced last Congress by Rep. Udall.
Historically, the ethanol import tariff was linked to the subsidy for blending ethanol into gasoline. However, recently-enacted law reduces the subsidy while simultaneously extending the tariff for two more years at $0.54 per gallon. Unless that changes, the tariff will be changed into a trade barrier that will make it even harder for ethanol imports to enter the U.S. market.
I believe that we should lower the ethanol import tariff, so that it will never be higher than the tax-credit subsidy for blending ethanol into gasoline. That would enable U.S. refiners to purchase cheaper and more climate-friendly ethanol, no matter where it comes from. The result would be an overall increase in the supply of fuel, a decrease in its price, and a decrease in our dependency on petroleum from the Middle East.
This legislation would also have significant geopolitical benefits at a time with U.S. global standing is eroding. Reducing the ethanol tariff and encouraging developing countries in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere to become fuel suppliers could have far-reaching implications for their economic development, and could significantly strengthen the position of the United States in the developing world.
Electric Transportation & Green Jobs (via Stimulus)
We also need to make a serious push to electrify the transportation sector for American consumers, and to create new green jobs while doing it. Very little of our electricity is generated from oil, so using electricity as a transportation fuel enables the full spectrum of electricity sources to compete with petroleum – that includes wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, nuclear, and coal, among others.
I fully support Governor Paterson’s “45 by 15” program, whereby New York will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs by 2015 through improved energy efficiency and clean renewable energy. This program will help drive economic revitalization, and help protect our environment.
As Congress deliberates an economic recovery bill, I believe that now is the time to jump-start investment in electric transportation. The production of electric vehicles in the United States will involve huge numbers of green manufacturing jobs. It is critical that we fully fund, in FY 2010 and beyond, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and related electric transportation provisions authorized under the Energy
Independence and Security Act of 2007.
As we move toward greater use of various types of electric vehicles, there will be increased demand for the advanced batteries that will power these vehicles. We must ensure that we can meet the demand for production of these batteries here in the United States.
The second stimulus package last Congress, H.R. 7110, included $1 billion in funding to create a $3.3 billion loan guarantee program for domestic construction of facilities that would manufacture advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems. But that bill did not become law. I will make a continued effort to secure that funding, as well as additional funding for related policies, to help American manufacturers produce advanced lithium ion batteries, hybrid electrical systems, and other components and software designs.
We must also fund the Green Jobs Workforce Investment Fund, authorized under Title 10 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In particular, I support the construction of a green technologies incubator in my district in Mt. Vernon, New York. This project is shovel-ready. And like projects under the Green Jobs Workforce Investment Fund, it would help advance the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, and help put American workers on a path to financial self-sufficiency and economic security.
I am committed to breaking our dependence on foreign oil, and doing so in a way that grows our economy and builds a clean energy future for all Americans. I will continue to press these matters in the days, weeks, and months ahead, and I look forward to a productive new Congress. Thank you.