Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bristol Herald Courier: Energy Independence In This Generation's Challenge

Recently, the Bristol Herald Courier had a good article about how energy indepedence is going to be this generaiton's challenge.

In their article, the BHC writes:

The path to energy independence isn’t yet clear, but the interest is there. President Bush and the nation’s other leaders should seize the opportunity, gather the scientists and embark on the defining scientific struggle of our generation.

They could not be more right. That is why it is so important in this election that the voters of Tennessee send someone to the United States Senate who is dedicated to addressing the issue of energy independence in the coming years.

Congressman Ford has already shown us in this campaign and his tenure in Congress that he is ready to pursue the path to energy independce.

However, the same can't be said about Bob Corker, his opponent. During this campaign Bob has not even made energy independence an issue. Instead, Corker has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Big Oil. In fact, he has recieved more money from Big Oil than from any other U.S. Senate candidate in the nation!

The choice is clear in this election.

A vote for Ford is a vote for change and a vote for energy indepdence. A vote for Corker is more of the same.

I am confident Tennesseans will make the correct choice this fall.

Harold Ford Jr: A record of fighting for alternative fuels, renewable energy and energy independence

  • Congressman Harold Ford Jr's authored legislation to provide $3 billion for a 10-year program to encourage domestic production of hybrid and advanced diesel vehicles that was part of the Energy Bill (HR 6). Passed the US House on 04/21/06. [H.AMDT. 85 to HR 6, Passed 04/21/06]

  • National Association of Manufacturers applauds Harold Ford Jr for voting to lower energy costs and address America's energy rising costs: "Rep. Harold Ford did the right thing for American consumers and industry in his vote to open up the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for natural gas exploration," said John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers. "This was a vote for jobs over politics. The working people of Tennessee owe him a debt of gratitude." Despite Rep. Ford's commonsense stance for lower energycosts, the House voted to continue to restrict supply of natural gas by extending the Congressional moratorium on the OCS, and therefore keep energy prices at record highs." National Association of Manufacturers Release, 05/19/06

  • Voted YES on Price Gouging Proposal: The vote was for a bill that bans price gouging in the sale of fuels, sets penalties for such price gouging, and permits states to bring lawsuits against wholesalers or retailers for pricegouging. It would require the Federal Trade Commission to define price gouging and make gasoline price gouging a federal crime punishable by up to two years in prison and fines up to $150 million. HR 5253, 05/03/06, CQ Today, 5/3/06]

  • Voted YES to authorize astudy by the National Academy of Sciences on the feasibility of mustard seed as a feedstock for biodiesel: This amendment would authorize a study by the National Academy of Sciences on thefeasibility of mustard seed as a feedstock for biodiesel. Amdt to HR 6, 04/21/2005, Passed 259-171

  • Voted YES on an amendment that would make producers of all approved renewable fuels eligible for grants to build production facilities for renewable fuels and the bill also approved that renewable fuels are itemsproduced from renewable biomass, such as feed crop residues and animal waste: "Engel, D-N.Y., amendment that would make producers of all approved renewable fuels eligible for grants to build production facilities forrenewable fuels. Approved renewable fuels are items produced from renewable biomass, such as feed crop residues and animal waste." Amdt to HR 6, 04/21/2005, Passed 239-190

  • Voted Yes on an amendment to include alternate fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel fuels in the Strategic Fuels Reserve: "Kaptur, D-Ohio., amendment that would rename the Strategic Petroleum Reserve the Strategic Fuels Reserve, and would give the Energy Department authority to include alternate fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel fuels in the reserve." Amdt to HR 6, 04/20/05, Failed 186-239

  • Voted YES on amendment that would increase funding for renewable energy sources by $30 million: "The vote opposed to an amendment to the energy and water funding bill to increase funding for renewable energy sources by $30 million - 10% more than what the underlying bill provided for solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydrogen renewable energy programs. The increase would be offset by a decrease in the Advanced Simulation and Computing program - a project to analyze and predict the performance, safety, and reliability of nuclear weapons and certify their functionality. The increase was defeated, 150-241." (CQ House Action Reports. Legislative Day: 6/25/04; Advanced Simulation and Computing Program.

  • Voted YES to provide an additional $30 million for renewable energy programs: "Udall, D-Colo., amendment that would provide an additional $30 million for renewable energy programs and offset the cost with a reductionto nuclear waste disposal funds." Amdt to HR 2754, 07/18/03

  • Voted YES to authorize $10 million annually through fiscal 2006 for a partnership program to promote and conduct public outreach on renewable and alternative energy: "Bono, R-Calif., amendment that would authorize $10 million annually through fiscal 2006 for a partnership program between the EPA and private industry to promote and conduct public outreach on renewable and alternative energy." Amdt to HR 4, 08/01/01, Passed 411-15

  • Voted YES on increasing fuel efficiency for SUVs: "Boehlert, R-N.Y., amendment that would require the Transportation Department to ensure that the total amount of gas consumed by cars and light trucks in 2010 be 5 percent less than allowed under average fuel economy standards for 2004." Amdt to HR 6, 04/10/03, Failed 162-268

  • Voted YES to an amendment that would require the Transportation Department to issue regulations by model year 2007 that would increase fuel efficiency standards to at least 33 miles per gallon in automobiles manufactured by model year 2015: "Boehlert, R-N.Y., amendment that would require the Transportation Department to issue regulations by model year 2007 that would increase fuel efficiency standards to at least 33 miles per gallon in automobiles manufactured by model year 2015." Amdt to HR 6, 04/20/05

Bob Corker: A lapdog for Big Oil

"You don't give money to political campaigns. You give money to charities. You invest money in political candidates who believe in what you believe, and the inauguration is part of the political process." -- James Haslam, "Deep Pockets Tapped for Bush Inauguration," Gannett News Service, 1/17/05

  • Corker's Finance Chair A Big Oil CEO: Corker's campaign finance chair is "Gas Station King" Jimmy Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Oil, a Big Oil giant with $4 billion in annual revenues. ). He has so far helped Corker to raise $5.5 million (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 2/9/05; Knoxville News Sentinel, 3/9/03; Center for Responsive Politics, 7/26/2006)

  • Pilot Oil CEO and Family Have Poured Money Into Corker's Coffers: Jimmy Haslam, his family have contributed $34,100 to Corker's campaign. (Center for Responsive Politics, 7/26/2006)

  • Corker has raised $58,750 total from the Oil and Gas industries to date. With Haslam's help, Corker has raised more money from the oil and gas industry than any other non-incumbent Senate candidate this cycle. (Center for Responsive Politics, 7/26/2006)

Oil Interest Group Hosting Fundraisers for Corker: Bob Corker held an event with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the invitation to which noted the maximum contributions allowed. (Knoxville News Sentinel, Commercial Appeal, Nashville City Paper, 7/26/2006)

  • "Mr. Corker also is expected to attend a "meet and greet" today at the Independent Association of America, which represents independent oil and natural gas producers. An invitation notes maximum contributions per person are $2,100, while PACs may give $5,000 per election." (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 7/26/2006)

Pilot Oil CEOs holds multiple, high dollar fundraisers for Corker, the first of which only barely followed the November 2004 presidential elections:

  • "Businessman Jim Haslam II hosted a breakfast and luncheon for Republican Bob Corker on Tuesday at Club LeConte for about 60 potential contributors." (Knoxville News Sentinel, 11/13/2004)

  • "A 'Who's Who' list of Republicans and businesspeople have signed on for a $1,000-per-person reception, to be held 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, at the West Knoxville home of Jimmy and Dee Haslam, in support of Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker's U.S. Senate bid." (Knoxville News Sentinel, 12/6/2004)

  • "A list of prominent Republicans is hosting a $1,000-per-person fundraiser for Bob Corker, former Chattanooga mayor running for the U.S. Senate, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the guest lodge of Pete and Cindi DeBusk on Cunningham Road. With Pilot executive Jimmy Haslam as Corker's state finance chairman, Haslam family members, including Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, are among the hosts as they were for a similar reception just about a year ago in Knoxville." (Knoxville News Sentinel, 12/10/2005)

Corker is endorsed by Independent Petroleum Association of America: "The Independent Petroleum Association of America's PAC director, Kelly Philson, said the IPAA has endorsed Corker for the election. 'I believe that he is the strongest candidate out there that will be an advocate for domestic producers of oil and natural gas,' Philson said." (Nashville City Paper, 7/26/2006)

Corker campaign signs are a regular appearance at gas stations, where consumers are reminded of Corker's allegiances while they pay almost $3 a gallon.


Securing America’s Energy Future: By Harold Ford, Jr.

More than four years after the September 11 attacks, we use and pay more for energy than we did before September 11. 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. To my knowledge, we are the only nation in the history of the world to fight a war and pay for both sides at the same time. This is inexcusable.

Of course, the energy crisis does far more than impact our national security; it also harms our financial security. Rising energy prices make it harder for working Tennesseans to pay the bills and make our businesses less competitive. As gas prices rise above $3 a gallon–and experts tell us that they will continue to rise for the foreseeable future–working Tennesseans are forced to spend $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.

Likewise, Tennessee companies are having a harder time competing globally as the price of oil and natural gas skyrockets. For example, International Paper in Memphis spent more than $1 billion on energy last year alone. AFG Glass in Kingsport has seen its profits squeezed as its energy costs have soared from $900,000 a month to more than $3 million. Global competition forces AFG to charge 1983 prices for its glass, but 2006 energy costs make it harder and harder to survive.

The problem will only get worse. Countries like 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 of time, U.S. demand will increase by over a third while our crude oil production will fall, meaning we will be competing with more countries for less oil. In fact, we are projected to import 5.25 billion barrels of oil in 2020, an increase of 15 percent over this year.

Something has to give. We need a new and comprehensive energy policy that prepares us for the 21st century challenge and cures our oil addiction.

As a nation, we have overcome great challenges in the past. When led, we are capable of extraordinary acts of national will. When we were suffering during the Depression, a leader named Roosevelt brought electricity to Tennessee with the TVA. When a world war revealed our infrastructure’s inadequacies, leaders named Gore and Eisenhower created the interstate highway network and drove economic development. When the Soviets beat us to space, a leader named John Kennedy said we would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. And we did, with a year to spare. When we had millions of elderly cut short because they could not afford health care, a leader named Johnson created Medicare to protect our seniors.

We need to go back to the kind of big ideas and bold thinking that made this country great. We need to create this generation’s moon shot by becoming energy self-sufficient by 2025. Doing so will not be easy. It will require an extraordinary commitment of our nation’s intellectual, financial and industrial resources. But just as great leaders saw us through the Depression and the Space Race, a new generation of leaders will help us overcome this latest challenge. Here is what we must do:

Improve Energy Efficiency Through Technology. Seventy percent of our oil consumption is for transportation; it fuels the cars we drive, the trucks we ship and the planes we fly. Increasing our average fuel efficiency by even a few miles to the gallon will dramatically reduce the amount of oil we consume each year.

We need to significantly increase use of hybrid engines. Despite their fanfare, hybrids will still only account for 4 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2010, while gas-guzzling SUVs will account for 27 percent of the market. That is why I sponsored a law that will aggressively promote the next generation of hybrid and advanced diesel engines.

It will also create quality, high-paying jobs here at home, like the 6,700 men and women who produce Nissan’s hybrid vehicles in Smyrna and the dedicated workers at FedEx who recently launched a new hybrid delivery truck that increases fuel efficiency by 57 percent and improves our environment by reducing harmful emissions by 65 percent.

I also propose removing the current cap on the number of tax rebates for hybrid vehicles, requiring 30 percent of the government auto fleet be driven by hybrid and advanced diesel engines, and creating a 35 percent tax credit for automakers to retool their factories to make energy efficient, advanced technology vehicles.

Finally, we must require federal agencies to reduce U.S. oil consumption by 10 million barrels of oil a day by 2031. By creating meaningful incentives to change behavior, we can reduce consumption and overcome our addiction.

Invest in Alternative Sources of Energy. To reduce our addiction to oil, we need to push promising examples of “green” and energy efficient prospects right here in Tennessee. For example, experts at Oak Ridge National Laboratories and the University of Tennessee system are developing farm-based fuels based on soybeans, corn and switchgrass grown in Tennessee.

Soydiesel is more efficient than ethanol and no new technology is needed to use it in our cars and trucks; existing diesel engines can run cleaner and just as powerful on soydiesel blends as on traditional diesel fuel. In fact, some new farm equipment now comes with fuel tanks full of biodiesel fuel. The United States already produces enough soybeans to replace 5 percent of diesel fuel, and Tennessee farmers can lead the way. Every year, they produce 46 million bushels, or 1.4 million tons, of soybeans. We need to provide tax breaks and meaningful incentives to increase production of biodiesel and make it widely available.

Cellulosic ethanol is fuel made from biomass like trees, shrubs and switchgrass. Researchers at the University of Tennessee are leading the way in developing an economically viable cellulosic fuel. In June 2004, 32.5 acres were planted with different varieties of switchgrass on four sites at University of Tennessee-Milan. The University is working in partnership with local farmers, TVA and Alabama Power in the study, which is expected to continue through the end of this year. This pilot program can serve as a national model for the kind of renewable fuels that will break our addiction to oil.

Corn is also a promising source of renewable fuel. E10 fuel–which is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent petroleum–is compatible with all cars. The only hold-up is developing the infrastructure to provide adequate supplies to gas stations. We need to provide tax incentives to promote production and increase capacity.

Most cars can run on E85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petroleum, with a simple and relatively inexpensive modification. We need a new energy bill, one that will create the incentives to push the major oil companies to offer E85 fuel nationwide so consumers will have an alternative to traditional gas.

Tennessee companies are leading the way in commercializing other forms of renewable energy as well. In Memphis, Sharp Corporation has built a solar panel manufacturing plant that is the top producer of solar panels in the United States. With demand for solar power is growing by roughly 20 to 30 percent a year, the Memphis plant will play a large role in a more energy efficient future.

In addition, the Tennessee Valley Authority has installed cutting-edge wind turbines on Buffalo Mountain near Oak Ridge to make wind energy a major contributor to TVA’s operations. These 18 wind turbines generate enough energy to power more than 3,500 homes in the Tennessee Valley. All told, wind power accounts for 75 percent of Green Power Switch, TVA’s green power service.

More than 90 local power companies offer TVA’s renewable energy option to consumers throughout the Tennessee Valley. More than 8,300 residential customers and 450 businesses are purchasing green power each month. We should use this effort as a national model to promote solar and wind-generated power, as well as other green energy wherever feasible.

Finally, scientists at Oak Ridge are changing how we power cars and light trucks with its FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership programs. These initiatives will develop cars and trucks that run on hydrogen fuel cells rather than traditional internal combustion engines. As a result, they do not use gasoline and are emission-free. In addition to overcoming our addiction to oil, this technology could clean the air, especially around the Great Smoky Mountains.

Suspend Gas Taxes at the Pump. Finally, to help working Tennesseans at the pump, we should suspend the 18.4-cent per gallon tax for thirty days. After the first thirty-day suspension, we should assess whether it should be extended. In the meantime, temporary relief at the pump is better than nothing, especially as we learn that oil company CEOs are pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars while we are all left to pay more than $3 a gallon. We can pay for this tax suspension with a temporary windfall tax on oil companies.

The benefits of energy independence are widespread. In addition to lowering gas prices and improving our national security, overcoming our addiction to foreign oil will spur innovation, and create profitable new companies and high-paying jobs.

Energy independence will also increase demand for crops produced here in Tennessee that can be used for farm-based fuels. This will strengthen our nation’s farms and reduce the need for additional subsidy programs. In fact, investment in farm-based fuels could be this nation’s most powerful rural economic development program in the last half century.

Our nation has shown time and again that when the stakes are highest, Americans deliver. Forty-five years ago, we answered President Kennedy’s challenge to make it to the moon. Today, we must answer the call to make our country safer, stronger and more secure. Our economy, national security and environment depend on it. A new generation of leadership is ready to answer the call.