Alexander: Tonight, Pres. Obama Should Focus on Cleanup, Not Misuse “Crisis” to Pass Nat’l Energy Tax

Says Bipartisan Clean Energy Plan Should Include Electric Cars and Trucks, Nuclear Power and Energy Research and Development

Posted on June 15, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate in advance of President Obama’s address this evening on the Gulf oil leak. Video of the speech can be found here and the full text here

  • “I would like to suggest what I hope that the president does and does not do tonight, because the entire nation’s attention is focused on the tragic spill.”
  • Things I hope the president does not do:
    • Number one: I hope the president stays focused and doesn’t follow the advice of the White House chief of staff, who has so often been quoted as saying, ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’ This is a crisis, but don’t try to mislead the American people into thinking that the cure for the oil spill is a new national energy tax that drives jobs overseas looking for cheap energy. The so-called cap-and-trade national energy tax has nothing to do with cleaning up this oil spill.”
    • Number two, I would hope that the president doesn’t destroy the rest of the Gulf Coast economy.  The senators from Louisiana have both spoken eloquently on the livelihood of so many in that area.  We don’t stop flying after a terrible airplane accident, and we’re not going to stop offshore drilling after a tragic spill such as this one.  What we need to do is to find out why it happened and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  Thirty percent of the oil and twenty-five percent of the natural gas we produce in the United States comes from thousands of wells in the Gulf of Mexico.  If we were to shut them down, natural gas prices, home heating, gasoline prices all would skyrocket and we would rely more on tankers from overseas that have a worse safety record than American offshore oil drillers.”
    • Number three, I hope that the president won’t recommend spending money from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund on something other than cleaning oil spills . . . I think Americans might be looking at Washington and wondering, ‘What is this?  You mean to say I’m paying a higher gasoline tax in effect to go into a fund to clean up oil spills and the Congress is thinking about spending that money on something other than cleaning up oil spills?’  The answer is [those Americans would be] exactly right.  The proposal that’s before the Senate today would raise from eight cents to 41 cents the per-barrel fee on oil that’s supposed to be used to clean up oil spills – and the proposal would spend it on more government . . . I hope the president remembers that it is called the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and if we want to re-earn the trust of the American people, we would spend oil spill cleanup money on cleaning up oil spills.”
    • Number four, and finally, I hope the president does not pretend that renewable electricity has anything to do with reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  Already I see the ads for the windmills that the big corporations are putting out.  Let’s think about renewable electricity for just a minute.  We’re talking about oil in the Gulf.  We use oil for transportation, not to create electricity.  Renewable electricity—wind, solar and biomass—creates electricity, which we don’t need more of for transportation [because there is sufficient unused capacity at night to charge electric cars and trucks].  So a clean energy program that is a ‘National Windmill Policy’ or a ‘National Solar Energy Policy’ or a ‘National Biomass Policy’ may be useful for the country in some ways, but it has nothing to do with reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”
  • Things I hope the president does do:
    • “I hope the President stays focused on cleaning up the oil spill and taking care of those who have been harmed.  We need a plan to fix the problem.  We need accountability for the regulation of energy production.  We need to ask the question: where is the President's plan?  And where are the people and the equipment necessary to implement the President's plan to clean up an oil spill?”
    • “There are three things that I would hope the President would talk about that have bipartisan support: for fuel, electric cars and trucks; for electricity, nuclear power; energy research and development for solar, carbon recapture, batteries, nuclear recycling, and clean biofuels.”
  • “Tonight the job is clean up the spill, get the job done, plug the hole and help people who are hurt.”


# # #