Friday, May 26, 2006

Ford Calls For Energy Summit To Develop Real Solutions

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is once again showing why he should be our next U.S. Senator.

On Thursday, the Congressman released a letter he had written to the President, urging him to convene an emergency energy summit, whose purpose would be to work towards real solutions to our nation's energy problems, namely our dependence on oil.

This is in character for Ford, who earlier this month showed real leadership when he took on Big Oil and high gas prices in his new television ads.

Each and everyday Congressman Ford is showing his dedication to solving our most pressing issues such as our energy problem. However, on the other hand, his opponents are nowhere to be found. Instead, they are too busy issuing attacks against Ford, arguing over debates and straw polls, all the while taking huge sums of money from Big Oil and their cronies.

The difference in the candidates and their philosophies could not be more stark. I am confident that at the end of the day, Congressman Ford's solutions-oriented, uplifting, new generation of leadership will prevail and he will be our next U.S. Senator.

Congressman Ford's press release is below:

Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. today called on President Bush to convene an emergency energy summit to develop a comprehensive solution to our dependence on oil. Ford also voted against a Republican effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling because it was not part of a broader package on energy reform. In a statement, Congressman Ford said:

"Our energy crisis will not be fixed until we develop a comprehensive approach. Instead of continuing to rely on traditional fossil fuels, we need to invest heavily in alternative sources of energy, such as wind, solar and farm-based fuels. We also must reward efficiency through innovation and conservation.

"Instead of incomplete answers - like drilling in ANWR without simultaneously developing more fuel efficient cars and trucks, increasing CAFÉ standards, increasing ethanol production and investing in other renewable fuels - I have asked President Bush to convene an emergency summit of experts to develop a serious plan to overcome our addiction to oil."

Congressman Ford's letter to President Bush follows:

May 25, 2006

President George W. Bush

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to urge you to respond decisively to the nation's growing energy crisis by convening a national energy summit comprised of top scientists and economists as well as bipartisan political leaders. The summit's mandate would be to forge a new national policy to address the immediate challenge of rising energy costs and the long-term imperative of reducing America's dependence on oil.

The skyrocketing costs of energy pose the most immediate challenge to the economy and the financial security of millions of American families. Over the past five years, crude oil prices have increased by 143 percent; gasoline prices by 71 percent; and natural gas prices by 46 percent. Gas prices in Tennessee have hovered around $3 per gallon, costing Tennessee drivers $50 to $70 every time they go to the pump. Tennessee families will spend $1,770 more this year to fill up their cars than in 2001, an increase of 87 percent. The average American family will spend over $5,100 on gasoline and home energy expenses, nearly $2,000 more than five years ago.

The effects of high energy costs are rippling throughout the economy, undermining the economic competitiveness of businesses large and small. International Paper in Memphis spent more than $1 billion on energy last year alone. Facing increased competition internationally, AFG Glass in Kingsport has seen its earnings squeezed as its energy costs have soared from $900,000 a month to more than $3 million. Ultimately, the burden of higher energy costs is borne by consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services: the indirect effects are estimated to cost the average family an estimated $1,400 per year.

With the same policies in place, the problems will only get worse. Rising economic powers - in particular the populous, fast-growing economies of China, India and Indonesia - will drive up world energy consumption by 57 percent by 2025. Global oil consumption alone will increase from 82 million barrels a day in 2004 to 111 million barrels a day in 2025. Over the same period, U.S. demand will increase by over a third while domestic crude oil production will decline. The U.S. is projected to import 5.25 billion barrels of oil in 2020, an increase of 15 percent over this year. The meaning of these trends is clear: in the coming years, we will be competing with more countries for less oil, reinforcing the upward pressure on energy prices.

These converging trends also promise to exacerbate America's dependence on imported oil - the single greatest obstacle to an effective anti-terrorism, pro-democracy foreign policy. Five years ago, oil imported from abroad comprised 56 percent of U.S. consumption; today, imports comprise 65 percent. The growing demand for imported oil from within the U.S. and from the world's growing economies provides a windfall for the world's top oil exporters, most of which have dictatorial governments whose interests and commitment to democracy sharply diverge from ours. America's energy policy is directly undermining our national security strategy.

Nearly five years after the September 11 attacks, we import more oil than we did before then. Every day, we ask more than 150,000 brave men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our lives and our values. Yet we at home are unwilling to change the way we live, drive and do business. Every time we fill our tanks with gas or turn on the lights at home or at work, we subsidize nations that support terrorists. As we wage the war on terror, our energy consumption funds the other side. This is an inexcusable state of affairs.

While the summit should have broad authority to develop a comprehensive policy, here are some suggestions.

First, to ease the burden of high gas prices for working Americans, we should adopt a 30-day suspension of the 18.4 cent/gallon federal gasoline tax. After the first 30 day suspension, we would assess whether it should be extended. We can pay for this tax suspension with a temporary windfall tax on oil companies.

Second, we should provide incentives for automakers to deploy technology to dramatically increase mile per gallon standards, commonly called CAFE standards, in their new cars and trucks.

Third, we should enact more aggressive tax credits for companies, including those in Oak Ridge and the East Tennessee Technology Corridor, that are developing new technologies and renewable sources of energy.

The long term answer is to invest in the clean development and safe use of bio-diesel, wind, solar, coal and nuclear energy to fuel the enormous energy appetite of our country. We need a new energy policy for America that rewards energy efficiency through innovation and conservation. In addition to making us more secure, such a forward-looking energy policy will unleash a new era of environmental responsibility for the world to follow.

As always, Mr. President, you and your family remain in my prayers.



View Congressman Ford's new ad on gas prices here!

Read about Congressman Ford and his views on energy here! (2)

142 Days

Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics

Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.

It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.

It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.

I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!

Read Congressman Ford's call for reform of the House rules here!