February 1, 2006- If We're "Addicted to Oil", Why Don't We Change the Policy?

Washington, D.C. --  In response to President Bush’s remarks on national energy policy during last night’s State of the Union Address, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today issued the following statement:

“Last night President Bush belatedly acknowledged that ‘America is addicted to oil,’ but for the past five years his Administration has pursued policies which have effectively subsidized the oil company ‘pushers’ who have fed this addiction with tax breaks and other federal subsidies and his speech last night was nothing more than hollow promises and empty rhetoric that totally belies the Administration’s record

In 2000, before this President took office, we were already addicted to oil – our depenendence on imported oil had risen to 55 percent.  Today, after four years of the Bush presidency, that addiction has risen to 64 percent. We are reliant on imported oil at the rate of 13.5 million barrels a day. That is his record

“In 2001, the Cheney Energy Task Force met secretly with the big oil and gas companies to craft a national energy plan that proposed a smorgasbord of tax breaks, deregulation, free drilling rights on many public lands, and special exemptions from environmental laws.  Over the next four years, the Bush Administration proceeded to implement the administrative recommendations of the Cheney Task Force, while pushing Congress to enact legislation to implement the remaining recommendations.  Throughout this period, the Bush-Cheney Administration spurned critics and Democrats who pointed out that its energy plan was sharply tilted towards the big oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear industries, that it failed to invest enough in alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, failed to do enough to promote rapid deployment of energy efficient technologies, and failed to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil from the Middle East.

“In August 2005, the Republican-controlled Congress finally enacted the Bush energy bill.  While Republicans touted this new legislation’s benefits, it has become apparent to most observers that the Republican energy bill does virtually nothing to wean America from its oil addiction or reduce our dependence on imported oil. It was driven by a futile desire to drill our way to energy independence. Moreover, this Republican bill gave nearly $8 billion dollars in tax breaks to the big oil companies to pad their record profits and allowed for them to drill on the public lands without paying any fees. In the aftermath of enactment of this bill, consumers have seen gasoline prices and home heating prices reach new highs, while oil company profits soar to heights never previously achieved by any corporation in history.

“In his 2006 State of the Union Address, the President noted that his Administration had spent roughly $10 billion over the last five years on energy research, and he proposed to increase that spending by 22 percent as part of an effort to replace 75% of Middle East oil imports by 2025.  The President’s proposal is an historic failure.  The $10 billion that the U.S. spent on innovative energy research since 2001 represents roughly the same amount that ExxonMobil earned in profits in just a single quarter last year.  If America is to wean its addiction to oil, we should double renewables, efficiency, and alternative energy research over the next five years.  To propose a $5 million increase in wind energy research, a $65 million increase in solar research, hydrogen by $53 million at a time when a single oil company earns $10 billion in just one quarter is a joke.

“The Bush Administration has also short-changed energy efficiency.  It has opposed all efforts to mandate tougher efficiency standards for cars and SUVs.  It has failed to call for a repeal of the tax deduction for energy inefficient Hummers. At the same time, the Administration has woefully mismanaged the nation’s appliance efficiency standards program.  It sought to roll back efficiency standards for central air conditioning units, only to have that effort overturned in the courts.  It has failed to comply with statutory deadlines for issuing other standards, so that today the Energy Department is reported to be late in issuing standards for 30 covered products.  Some of these overdue standards will not become effective until 2016.

“Democrats have proposed an Innovation Agenda that would create an Advanced Research Projects Agency within DOE that would aim at galvanizing efforts to rid America from its oil addiction.   Our goal is to eliminate America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil in a decade, not merely cut it by 75% over the next 20 years.  Democrats have also been calling rapid deployment of alternative fuel vehicles that can run on ethanol produced not just from corn, but from sugar cane, wood, grasses and urban wastes such as paper pulp.  Yesterday, I introduced legislation that would mandate that all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in America be capable of running on alternative fuels within ten years.  If the President is really serious about supporting a move beyond a petroleum-based economy, he should endorse this bill at once. American consumers who are bearing the crush of soaring gas prices and a home heating crisis deserve more than empty rhetoric – they deserve real action.

“In addition, I believe that America is ready for even more dramatic action to end America’s addiction to foreign oil.  We need to increase the Fuel Economy of our cars and SUVs to 34 miles per gallon over the next 10 years, with further increases up to 40 miles per gallon to follow.   We should also mandate that 25% of all residential and commercial electricity be generated by renewable sources by 2020.”

Anatomy of an Addiction

President Bush has announced, in the fifth year of his presidency, that the country is “addicted to oil.”  Let’s take a look at the Bush record of treating this addiction:


  2002   2003 2004   2005  2006

Oil Imports Rising
(million b/d)   

 10.5  11.2  12.1  13.2  
Foreign Oil Dependence Rising
(percent)
 53.4  56.1  58.3  64.0  
Oil Prices Rising
($/barrel on January 31)
 19.08  33.51  33.05  48.20  68.35
 Gasoline Price Soaring
($/gal Maximum Weekly Avg.)
 1.42  1.69  2.02  3.03  

Source: Energy Information Administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2006


 

CONTACT: Tara McGuiness
Jeff Duncan
202.225.2836