Alexander on Reid Energy Bill: Last-Minute Bill Written in Secret with Little Debate and No Amendments Sounds Like Health Care All Over Again

Says Moratorium on Offshore Exploration Would Mean Higher Prices, Lost Jobs, More Dependence on Foreign Oil and Leaky Tankers

Posted on July 27, 2010


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate:


  • “We hear that maybe this afternoon, the Majority Leader will propose an energy bill.  It’s being proposed in a way that has become all too familiar here.  It’s being written in secret, offered at the last minute.  There will be time for little debate: we have one or two days at most to work on this bill, given the need to consider the president’s nomination of Ms. Kagan.  And apparently, there will be no amendments.  So, last minute, written in secret, little debate, and no amendments on a bill that addresses a big issue.  That sounds a lot like what happened at Christmas with the health care bill.”


  • “We’ve had a clear consensus on how to have cheap, clean energy.  Republicans have for years said, ‘Why don’t we build 100 new nuclear plants? That’s 70 percent of our carbon-free electricity.  Why don’t we set as a goal electrifying half our cars and trucks?  That is the single best way to reduce the use of oil, especially from foreign countries.  Why don’t we double clean-energy research and development to reduce the price of solar power by a factor of four, which is what we need to do in order to be able to put solar panels on our rooftops and supplement the energy we need.’  We haven’t had bills like that . . . Instead the other side has been focused on two bad ideas.  One, a national energy tax in the middle of a recession. Second, a Renewable Electricity Standard which basically boils down to the requirement to have everybody build 50-story wind turbines to try to produce electricity across the country.”


  • “What will happen if we were to in effect end offshore exploration of natural gas and oil?  It means we’d be depending more on oil from overseas.  We use twenty million barrels of petroleum product a day, and unless we get really busy with electric cars, we’re still going to be using twenty million a day.  It will probably mean higher prices since about a third of our domestically produced natural gas and oil comes from the Gulf of Mexico.  It would mean lost jobs in large amounts.  But that is precisely what unlimited liability for oil spills would do – end domestic offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.  According to a study by I.H.S. Global Insight on July 22nd, if we eliminate the small independent oil producers from the Gulf, the job loss would be 300,000 over the next ten years.  In addition to depending more on foreign oil, higher prices, lost jobs, it also means we’d depend on leaky tankers to bring that foreign oil over to the United States so we could use it.  That’s a bad idea as well.”


  • “There is a better way to approach the problem of dealing with the oil spill that was offered by Senator McConnell and other Republicans last week.  Instead of ending offshore exploration for natural gas and oil, which is what unlimited liability requirements in effect would do, it would fashion a proposal much like the proposal we use for the 104 nuclear power reactors we have operating in this country.  They operate under a law called the Price-Anderson Act.  Price-Anderson is an industry-funded insurance program that spreads the liability for any nuclear accident among all 104 nuclear reactors . . . Instead of saying unlimited liability, which sounds good but had problems, it would employ a risk-based approach and give the president the responsibility to establish liability limits for offshore facilities by taking into account risk-based factors, such as the depth of the water.


  • “The 1.6 million of us who fly daily wouldn’t stop flying after a tragic airplane crash.  We’d find out what happened and do our best to make it safe. And we can’t stop drilling after a tragic oil spill unless we want to rely more on foreign oil, run our prices up, turn our oil drilling over to a few big oil companies and turn more oil hauling over to more leaky tankers.  I hope that instead of the proposal we’ve been hearing about, we can focus on the clean-energy, low-cost consensus that Republicans have advocated and the president has proposed as well—nuclear power, electric cars, energy research and development, and clean air.”


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