WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.),Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following prepared remarks at a hearing entitled “Clean Energy Policies that Reduce our Dependence on Oil:”
Rep. Markey at the hearing along with (from left to right) Fred Smith, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, FedEx Corporation, Robert Diamond, Former Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Security Fellow, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Truman National Security Project, Jason Wolf, Vice President of North America, Better Place
“Consumers today spend more than half a billion dollars a day on foreign oil. That is half our trade deficit. Between 2001 and 2008 when gasoline increased from $1.46 to $3.27 a gallon, the average household’s annual energy costs increased by almost $2000 dollars – slightly more than the average tax cut provided during the same period. These gas dollars go straight to OPEC and some of them wind up in the hands of terrorists.
“We have spent too long resisting efforts to reduce our dependence on oil. As Tom Friedman of the New York Times puts it, ‘the price of oil and the path of freedom run in opposite directions.’
“Some oil payments find their way to Iran, to fund its nuclear program, and other payments help fund teachings that perpetuate hate against Americans.
“But until recently, we were on the path of ever-increasing oil dependence. As you can see from the red line, in 2007, the Department of Energy projected increasing levels of oil consumption far into the future. These are based on the Bush Administration’s oil-friendly policies.
“With Democrats in control of Congress, we moved quickly to end this dangerous cycle. Enacting the first mandated fuel economy provisions in 32 years was a huge first step. President Obama accelerated their implementation with a 35.5 mile per gallon standard by 2016. Combined with the renewable fuels standard and Recovery Act measures, you can see from the blue line that we have frozen our levels of oil consumption for the foreseeable future.
“But we can, and must, do more.
“The EPA has modeled what is technologically possible from a range of clean energy policies like those in Waxman-Markey and you can see from the green line that we could save more than all of the oil we currently import from OPEC – as much as 4 - 7 million barrels per day more than what we’ve already accomplished.
“We must continue down the path to further reducing our oil dependence. The Waxman-Markey bill includes $20 billion dollars and other measures to deploy plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles and has other provisions to help save oil.
“Now, I am sure we will be told; “No, you can’t. It will cost too much. It can’t be done.”
“But let me remind you – the automobile industry delivered that very same message for nearly a decade. They said the technology didn’t exist, that we’d all have to drive tiny little go-karts if we raised fuel economy standards, and that the industry would suffer. Meanwhile, other countries innovated, the US bled manufacturing jobs, and some automakers closed facility after facility, in part because we didn’t raise standards quickly enough for them to compete.
“A recent study found that by transitioning to electric vehicles, we could create 1.9 million new jobs by 2030, we could improve our trade deficit by $127 billion dollars a year, and the typical U.S. household would pocket almost $4000 extra dollars in gasoline saved and other benefits.
“But if we do not act, we will prevent a generation of Americans from competing in the largest economic growth opportunity of the 21st century. The 2 million new clean energy jobs that would be created in America under Waxman-Markey will be created overseas. And we will simply trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Chinese solar panels, Korean batteries, and German wind turbines.
“To those who say “it can’t be done”, I say, look to the clean energy entrepreneurs like A123, Better Place, or Boston Power who are proving that “yes, it CAN.” By charting this new path toward an energy independent future, we will one day be able to tell OPEC that we don’t need their oil any more than we need their sand.
“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.”
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