John Kerry: Three New Bold Ideas for Energy Independence and Global Climate Change
t r u t h o u t | Statement
Monday 26 June 2006
Today, in a speech at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, John Kerry introduced a bold new plan to achieve energy independence and combat global climate change. Kerry's plan challenges America to accept three big ideas to win energy independence and meet the ten year challenge of combating global climate change.
A fact sheet on the Kerry Energy Plan is below.
Below are Kerry's remarks as prepared for delivery:
Our Energy Challenge
Senator John Kerry
Monday 26 June 2006
Here in Faneuil Hall, America's first great gathering ground of free speech and dissent, we came together two months ago and nearly two and a half centuries after the voices of patriots were first heard within these walls.
We came together to affirm that the patriotism of 2006, no less than the patriotism of 1776, demands that we speak truth to power - that for love of country, we must end a war in Iraq that kills too many of our sons and daughters, betraying both our national interests and our ideals.
Last week, in the Senate, we stood against appeals to politics and pride and demanded a date to bring our troops home. We did that because that's the way you get Iraqis to stand up for Iraq and fight a more effective war on terror.
We defied the White House tactics of fear and smear. Presidents and Republican politicians may be concerned about losing votes or losing face or losing legacies. We told the truth because we are more concerned about young Americans and Iraqi civilians losing their lives. And I guarantee you, our success would bring less loss of life, less expenditure of dollars, and it would make America safer.
I say "we" because even though our resolution only won 13 votes this time, I know every minute of the debate you were there with us - there with Russ Feingold, there with Ted Kennedy and there with us as we voted our beliefs and yours - that a policy based on deception and filled with blunders is no excuse for its own perpetuation.
But while we lost that roll call, I guarantee we will win the judgment of history because Washington is wrong and Americans are right, and we must set a new course in Iraq.
Yet our challenge is not just to end this war, it is to prevent the next one. The arrogance of ideology and the willful ignorance of the intelligence led us into a war of choice in Iraq. Now we must act so that at some future date America will never have to fight for its economic security because we are permanently held hostage to foreign oil.
We must make the hard choices - about alternative energy and clean coal, conservation and fuel efficiency - that will free our future from the dominance of big oil and yesterday's fossil fuels, a dominance that in the era of global warming threatens the future itself.
So I come here again to Faneuil Hall, which is also the cradle of American independence, to set out a strategy for energy independence. To propose specific steps for an energy revolution as far-reaching as the industrial revolution. And to oppose the procrastination, the Washington evasion and the Cheney-run secret task forces by and for big oil.
How insulting and ridiculous it is to be told that the solution to our problems is to drill in and destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that would yield a few months of oil when we are already importing 60 percent of our oil and climbing? God only gave us 3% of the world's oil reserves. There is simply no way to drill our way out of our problem. We have to invent our way out.
To do that, we also have to invent our way out of the politics of greed and empty posturing that has worsened our dependence and denied the undeniable and potentially disastrous effects of global warming.
Not long ago, in the face of record gas prices, a volatile Middle East, and hostile rhetoric from a fundamentalist regime in Iran, a President of the United States asked "Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?"
His name was Jimmy Carter - and that steamy summer of 1979 seems as familiar today as the question he raised then. Almost twenty seven years later we face another summer of record gas prices, raging violence across a volatile Middle East, renewed rhetoric of hate from a fundamentalist regime in Tehran. Our national neglect has made the quarter of a century since then what Winston Churchill called "years the locust has eaten." Today we endure another summer of record gas prices; we witness the violence raging across a volatile Middle East; and we hear the rhetoric of hate from a hostile government in Tehran.
George W. Bush now says that "America is addicted to oil." His preferred policy has been to feed the addiction; his attitude on greenhouse gases is to let them increase; his energy alternatives are token; again and again his approach to crisis is to denigrate the environment. Mr. President, the people know the truth: America is not addicted to oil because it wants to be. Washington is addicted to oil because that's the way powerful interests want it to be.
And it has been this way ever since President Nixon announced a national goal that by 1980, "the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need." President Ford extended the deadline: energy independence by 1985. Come 1985 President Reagan was promising to "ensure that our people and our economy are never again held hostage by the whim of any country or cartel."
The bottom line - whenever we face an energy crisis, talk of energy independence becomes the common currency of the American political dialogue. We have Apollo projects and Manhattan Projects for alternative fuels; summits and conferences and energy expos. And then, as the price of oil falls or supplies increase or a war is put behind us, the sense of urgency evaporates.
Too often our leaders in both parties have done what's easy, turned their backs on hard realities and great possibilities. Renewables, efficiency breakthroughs, clean technologies have been marginalized in the face of self-interested forces.
In these lost years, we could have created millions of new jobs, opened up vast new markets, improved the health of our citizens, slowed global warming, saved the taxpayers money, earned the respect of the world, and significantly strengthened our long term security. Instead America's energy strategy has been rhetorical, not real.
For evidence, look no further than the fake energy bill Congress enacted over bipartisan objections - a monstrosity with no guiding national goal, no tough decisions, no change in priorities - just a logrolling, back-scratching collection of subsidies for any industry with the clout to get a seat at the table and a share of the pork. A few good ideas, a lot of bad ideas and ugly ideas - Washington smiled equally upon all of them.
I don't know how to say it more plainly: Washington's energy policy is as real as their claims of Mission Accomplished in Iraq. But it is also the latest chapter in the long story in both parties politics at its worst - ducking the difficult choices, giving into the big contributors, substituting words for deeds, postponing the reckoning until the day after tomorrow. If you offend no one, you change nothing. The world is changing and now the reckoning is real.
Last Thursday, Brian Williams opened the nightly news with a stark statement: "Top climate scientists are saying with a high level of confidence that the earth is the hottest it has been in 400 years." NBC's science correspondent reported that global warming may lead to "rising sea levels, heavy rains in some areas, drought in others, and an increase in severe weather, including hurricanes." Was there room to argue? Well, as the NBC story concluded "you can [always] make a debate if you can find one scientist who says the earth is flat and have him debate it against everybody else."
Well, Washington is full of "flat-earth" politicians. No matter how the evidence has mounted over two decades - the melting of the arctic ice cap, rising sea levels, extreme weather - the flat earth caucus can't even see what is on the horizon. In the Congress they've even trotted out the author of Jurassic Park as an expert witness to argue that climate change is fiction. This is Stone Age science.
Here's the bottom line: within the next decade, if we don't deal with global warming, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with global catastrophe. It is time to stop debating fiction writers, oil executives and flat-earth politicians, and actually take on the other mortal threat to America after terrorism, which, because of our oil dependence, is a decisive front in the war on terrorism.
We can't respond to climate change, and we can't wage and win a real war on terror if we don't at last take bold, real steps towards energy independence. For too long, we have allowed fundamental problems in the Middle East to fester by signaling corrupt Arab regimes that we don't care what they do so long as they keep the oil flowing.
So, energy independence is more than an important economic priority; it is an indispensable element of our national security. Our reliance on oil not only props up decaying and dictatorial regimes, but those that tolerate and sustain terrorist groups. Any long-term strategy for winning the war on terror must be matched with a determined effort to reduce our dependence on petroleum. It demands an international response, linked to the rapid emergence of new energy technologies, in order to ensure that emerging economies don't become the new enablers of Middle East autocrats. Make no mistake, our long term mission in the war on terror depends on long term energy independence. We must end the empire of oil.
For some, it may be hard to conceive of a world where fossil fuels, and especially petroleum, are not the dominant sources of fuel.
In fact, we've been here before. One hundred and fifty years ago in Massachusetts, in New Bedford and Nantucket, no one could conceive of a future that didn't depend on whale oil. But until recently, America's history has been to drive technology, transform marketplaces, and invent a future never imagined before. In America, making the impossible possible has been a credo and a way of life. In the 1930s only 10 percent of rural America had electricity. Utilities refused to wire rural counties because homes were too far apart. To bring electricity to all Americans, Congress provided more than $5 billion to finance rural electrification. By the 1950s, there was hardly a corner of America that was still dark. Across our history we've successfully moved from wood to coal, coal to oil, oil to a mix of oil, gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric. Now it's time to move to solar, wind, biomass, fuel cells, clean coal, and other wonders of American ingenuity, and I believe Washington must lead the marketplace in the right direction.
Today there is as compelling a national interest to address the security and environmental threats of fossil fuels as there is to defeat radical, extreme Islamists and global terror. Our soldiers shouldn't be the only ones to sacrifice in this war. We must all be soldiers, and we must all welcome some sacrifice in that service.
As individuals, the change can be as simple as replacing traditional light bulbs with efficient fluorescents. In our communities we should require that new buildings include lights that turn off when people leave the room. We should follow the lead of Tokyo and their energy efficient escalators that shut off when they aren't being used. There are literally thousands of things to be done, too few of which we are being asked to do.
Each of us can do something. And together all of us can insist on leaders who secure our energy independence, not ones who barter it away. We wouldn't elect a candidate who said terrorism wasn't a threat. We wouldn't tolerate a candidate for national office who didn't say he was committed to capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden. But for too long we've tolerated those who treat the threat of energy insecurity and the truth of global climate change as an inconvenient myth. Well, from now on, every American who walks into a polling place can and should vote to kick out anyone who stands in the way of energy independence.
But it is also time to put Washington to the test. Time to tell powerful interests that the old era has ended and so have their easy arrangements. Then instead of empty slogans and long laundry lists of bite-sized ideas that tinker at the edges of outdated policy, we can embark on revolutions that will put our energy future in our own hands and put global climate change at the top of the national agenda where it belongs.
Today I want to focus on the three big steps that are imperative to addressing global warming and transitioning to dependence on homegrown sources of energy. First, I believe we need to establish an oil goal and implement an aggressive set of policies to reach it. Second, I believe we must immediately expand the availability, production, and distribution of renewable fuels to run our cars. And third, we need to get serious about climate change and take measures to freeze and reverse our greenhouse gas emissions.
To start: We must establish mandates for reducing US oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2015 - an amount equivalent to the oil we currently import from the Persian Gulf.
Yes, I said mandate - and I said it because we have lost too much time for voluntary measures to be put to the test. And we can't just set a mandate - we have to provide incentives to businesses and industry to make the mandate achievable.
We must significantly ramp up our production of Flex Fuel Vehicles. They run on alternative fuels, like E85, a blend of 85 percent ethyl alcohol - a home-grown, domestic, completely renewable source of fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline.
Other countries already know something we don't. Actually they've been doing something we won't - something influential interests don't want us to do. Thirty years ago when Brazil faced an energy crisis they got serious about alternative fuels. Relying on new stocks of homegrown fuels in addition to its own oil production, this year Brazil will achieve energy independence. If Brazil can do it, why can't we? If a developing country can go from 90 percent dependence on foreign oil to zero percent dependence in three decades, then we - the most powerful, creative, industrial country on Earth - we can change the destructive course we're on.
Today, in this country, only six million vehicles - just 10 percent of all those on the road - can be fueled by E85, and less than one percent of the service stations have even a single E85 pump. To change that we must require - not just recommend - that an increasing percentage of new cars can run on E85 and that by 2020 all new cars will have the capacity to run on E85. 20/20: that's not just a vision, that's a real program to jumpstart energy independence.
But building these cars doesn't get you very far if there is nowhere for Americans to them fill up. What a Washington solution it would be if we built flex fuel cars but you couldn't buy the fuel - talk about a bridge to nowhere. We need to immediately expand our investment in E85 infrastructure. Mandate that 10 percent of all major oil company filling stations offer at least one ethanol pump by 2010. And to deploy this technology quickly, provide financial incentives to both independent and retail chains to install the new pumps. Just think - we can put ethanol pumps in every single gas station in America for what we spend in Iraq in just one week. I don't think there's a Member of Congress who will want to tell their constituents they didn't think breaking our dependence on oil was worth as much as one week in Iraq. When the energy spending bill comes before the Senate, I will offer an amendment to get over 1800 E85 pumps across the country in the next year alone, and with your help we'll make the Congress vote yes or no - choose the status quo or choose America's energy future.
To ensure we have enough ethanol to meet our demands, we must also invest in the kind of ethanol produced from plant wastes and energy crops like switchgrass. And we must set a goal of having 30 percent of our fuels come from biofuels by 2020. Believe me, if we're spending 2 billion in Iraq in one week, we can commit $2 billion in funding for cellulosic biofuels over the next ten years!
Energy efficiency can be a powerful weapon in the arsenal of our democracy and is as indispensable as armor and munitions. We have to combat the threat to soldiers that comes not just from gun barrels but from oil barrels. We should all be incensed that we are in effect financing both sides in the war on terror every time we fill up our tanks. We can't keep asking American troops to risk the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq if those of us on the homefront aren't ready to make even the smallest sacrifice to help them.
I remember sitting with a top CEO from the auto industry in the spring of 2003. He'd come to see me to talk about automobile efficiency standards. I asked him why the American auto industry seemed unwilling to build more fuel efficient cars. He told me that the American consumer wouldn't buy a more fuel efficient car. He asked me, "Why in the world would we change everything to build more fuel efficient vehicles when no one wants them?" Three years later as the demand for hybrids and high mileage vehicles soars, the Japanese are there in the market and our own companies are struggling to catch up and even survive.
With leadership in Washington through a combination of incentives, grants and standards, we can and must at last revolutionize the way we drive.
We must no longer be afraid of the third rail of energy policy - fuel economy standards. Fuel efficiency standards have been essentially unchanged since 1980. Think about that. Jimmy Carter was President, my daughters were playing Atari and wearing leg-warmers, apartheid was a way of life in South Africa, and America was tuning in to find out who shot J.R. Since then, because Washington stood still, captive to powerful interests, the average efficiency of vehicles has actually declined. The United States can't have a serious policy for oil security until we leave the 1980's behind - entering the 21st century by demanding a major increase in the fuel economy of our cars.
Massachusetts and California have led the way cutting CO2 emissions from cars, leading the way for more efficient cars in these states. But state action alone cannot meet this national challenge. Washington must do its job, too. We need to establish a federal standard for controlling carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks. If the entire country did what Massachusetts and California are already doing, we could raise fuel efficiency by 40 percent.
Building the cars of the future - fuel-efficient, advanced-technology vehicles - will require automakers and their suppliers to retool their factories. I believe the federal government has a responsibility to help them remain competitive. Tax credits will help support the necessary investments, make the new technologies cost effective, and create jobs for the workers who will build the cars of the future and help consumers buy them. We should commit $3 billion to this effort in tax credits over the next five years - tax credits that will not only help reduce oil dependence but which will pay for themselves through tax revenue generated by the growth and productivity that follow.
But like all the funding in my proposal, let's not leave it subject to the whims of Congress and an army of appropriators. We need to create a new security and conservation trust fund to guarantee the resources to move the nation towards energy independence. This isn't a matter of capacity, it's a matter of willpower. We have the money, the question is whether we have the right priorities. Just by rolling back the tax breaks for big oil which even President Bush opposes, and by renegotiating oil leases, we can invest in a fund for energy security.
Instead of a tax code that works for the K Street lobbyists, let's provide an aggressive set of tax incentives and grants to ensure that by 2020, 20 percent of all passenger cars and trucks on the road will be fuel efficient, low emissions hybrid vehicles. Sure, hybrid vehicles are more expensive today. But they don't have to be if we put a little presidential muscle behind them. The doors of college were only open to the rich and powerful until President Lincoln pioneered a system of Land Grant Colleges that gave us UMass and URI and the University of Connecticut. After World War II, highways and roads were underfunded by local governments and some were unusable until President Eisenhower pushed through a national highway system. You want hybrid vehicles out on those highways? Make it affordable for Americans to buy American hybrids - because that's a hell of a lot better than subsidizing Saudi sheiks who look the other way while madrassas teach kids hatred and violence.
Here's another bottom-line: Good energy policy is also fundamental to coping with global climate change.
In 1992, I was part of the Senate delegation to the Rio Earth Summit. I was continuing an interest sparked when I lead efforts in the eighties to deal with acid rain - efforts that culminated in our creating a Cap and Trade system for emissions and making it part of the Clean Air Act in 1990. I believe that George Herbert Walker Bush - Bush "41" - can be proud that he was a President Bush who signed into law bills to help us reduce pollution.
The story since then is not just a disappointment - it is a flagrant, dangerous, arrogant disavowal of science at the behest of the powerful. It is a damning story of public irresponsibility and private profiteering. Those who have encouraged, facilitated and acquiesced in it will go down in history as modern day robber barons who sold out future generations for their own selfish gain. We need to use this November to throw the robber barons and their cronies out of the Congress and put the peoples' interests back in.
Each year since 1992, the science has become more certain. What was theory in some areas is now proven fact. Scientific models have become more sophisticated and more accurate. Across the world scientists and national leaders - except ours - have spoken out and acted decisively. Only the United States stands out as a flat earth holdout for inaction. When confronted by scientific facts, leaders must not change the facts to suit their politics; whether the issue is global warming, stem cell research, or Iraq, leaders must tell people the truth.
In the last month Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" has brought the science to millions of Americans in a dramatic and persuasive way. Al was an early leader and a visionary on climate change - and if he had not just been elected but been inaugurated as President, America today would be the world's leading advocate, not the world's leading opponent of climate change.
The question now - even more than it has been for the last years - is not whether climate change is happening but what are we going to do about it? No, I don't mean how does the political system moan and groan and adopt makeshift responses. I mean what are we really going to do? How do we turn this danger into opportunity? How do we meet a challenge of epic proportions with an epic American response?
Well we have to start by ending the bizarre disconnect of American politics. Real crises stare us in the face, screaming for solution. But non-existent, contrived ones replace the real ones on the agenda of a Congress that wants to change the political climate instead of dealing with climate change. They remain bent on dividing the country with flag burning and gay bashing amendments to the Constitution when we should be strengthening the country with a determined attack on global climate change.
Compare that kind of craven politics, to last week's announcement by the nation's leading climate scientists - a shocking new report that revealed that the earth's temperature is at a 2,000 year high. The scientists said - let me just read it to you - that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia" and they also stated that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."
Unless we deal with global warming boldly and quickly our world will undergo a string of terrible events in both the Atlantic and the Pacific far worse than Hurricane Katrina.
Never before have so many people lived so close to the coasts: More than a hundred million people worldwide live within three feet of sea level. Some of the world's greatest cities like - New York, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Tokyo - are at risk.
So we need a plan that actually does what the science tells us we have to do to. That's why I will be introducing in the Senate the most far-reaching proposal in our history. Nothing else will protect our security and our world. And I believe that anyone who knows the urgency of this global challenge, would be fighting to make this our national policy. And that is what I'm going to do.
It will stop and reverse US emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. I propose establishing an aggressive economy wide cap and trade program to reverse emissions growth starting in 2010. After that, we will progress to more rapid reductions and end at 65 percent below 2000 emissions by the year 2050.
At the same time, we cannot be reckless about the economic impacts. We must ensure American businesses remain competitive with the rest of the world. To achieve that goal, my plan will provide the tools to help the economy transition to new clean energy technologies, protect workers and affected communities, and protect companies and consumers from energy cost shocks. We will provide tax incentives for good behavior and increased funding for research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies. And I believe we should double the federal government funding for research and development to support private sector energy research, demonstration, and deployment.
The US is the world's single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but the US alone cannot solve the challenge of climate change. It is going to take action from other countries - - both developed and developing. We must re-engage in discussions with the international community and work together to plan a path forward. It's a global problem and it's going to require a global solution.
We have big challenges to solve - and a whole host of people in Washington who don't know how to tackle them, and a whole cast of political consultants who will counsel their candidates not even to try.
That's where you come in. You need to push the curve. You need to shake things up.
A Saudi Arabian oil minister and a founder of OPEC once said, "That the Stone Age came to an end not for a lack of stones, and the oil age will end, but not for a lack of oil." We are not about to run out of oil, but the consequences of endless dependence on oil are too great, too profound, and too dangerous for our nation. Rather than have our energy policy be the last big mistake of the 20th century, we can and must create a policy that is the first great breakthrough of the 21st century.
So for the second time in our history let's declare and win our independence. This time not from foreign rule but from foreign oil. If we are as Lincoln said the "last best hope of Earth," let's stop being the denier of global warming that endangers the Earth. Let's give our people back the truth, and let's give the world back its future.
Three Big New Ideas to Achieve Energy Independence and Combat Global Climate Change
America's oil dependence and contributions to global climate change are endangering our national security, our economy, and our environment. America consumes one-quarter of the world's total oil, but has less than 3 percent of its known reserves. Currently, we import about 60 percent of our oil, making us dangerously dependent on a precarious energy source which is vital to our economy and way of life. According to the Energy Information Administration, US oil consumption is projected to grow significantly over the next two decades, forcing us to rely on imports for nearly 70 percent of our oil by 2025, and increasing our dependence on some of the most unstable regions in the world. America also contributes about 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions but comprises only 5 percent of the world's population.
Senator Kerry knows we cannot win the war on terror and get serious about global climate change and energy security, if we do not take bold steps to actually break our oil addiction. Talk is not enough. A safer, more secure energy future is well within our reach. The imperative has never been greater to reshape the future of our energy supply and energy use. First, Kerry will establish an oil savings goal and implement an aggressive set of policies to reach it. Second, he believes we must immediately expand the availability of renewable fuels to run our cars. And third, he believes we need to get serious about climate change and take measures to freeze and reverse our greenhouse gas emissions.
(1) Reverse and Stop Emissions that Cause Global Warming
Climate change is caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that trap the sun's heat and cause the planet to heat up. Climate change poses a growing threat to our national and economic security - and to the planet our children and grandchildren will inherit. Last week, the National Academy of Science concluded that the Northern Hemisphere was the warmest it has been in 2,000 years and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."
Kerry Plan: Science tells us that we face a grave risk of potentially devastating impacts if global temperatures increase by even more than a few degrees. Senator Kerry will introduce the most comprehensive legislation yet put before Congress to slow, stop and reverse greenhouse gas emissions. His plan sets greenhouse gas emissions targets that science suggests will keep temperatures below the danger point. The level of emissions is frozen in 2010 and then gradually declines each year to 65 percent below 2000 emissions levels by 2050. The bill achieves these targets through a flexible, economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions. It includes measures to advance technology and reduce emissions through clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency in the transportation, industrial and residential sectors.
The US is the world's single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but the US alone cannot solve the challenge of global climate change. It is going to take action from other countries - - both developed and developing. The Kerry proposal includes a resolution expressing the urgent need for President Bush to re-engage in international climate negotiations.
(2) Mandates for Reducing Oil Consumption
The United States is saddled with rising prices for gasoline, escalating uncertainty in energy markets, and increasing oil imports in the foreseeable future. These stubborn facts will not change without an aggressive policy response that promotes both radically increased energy efficiency in our vehicle fleet and a rapid shift to greater use of alternative renewable fuels. The imperative - and the opportunity - has never been greater to reshape the future of our energy supply .
Setting Oil Savings as an Urgent Priority
The biggest flaw with the energy bill the president signed into law last summer, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, is that it does virtually nothing to reduce US oil use, despite the fact that about 60 percent of oil is now imported and the percentage is projected to steadily rise.
- Senator Kerry's plan will set mandatory targets for reducing US oil use by 2.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2015.
A. Transportation: Transitioning from Oil Dependence to Renewable Fuels
The transportation sector consumes more than two-thirds of the oil we use, accounting for 13 million barrels of oil per day, and roughly a third of our greenhouse gas emissions. We can reduce our oil dependence by transforming our transportation sector: improving the efficiency of our vehicles, making more clean and super-efficient vehicles that are affordable, and that can run on renewable fuels.
Promoting the Development of Super-Efficient Vehicles
Over the past 20 years, automakers have used advancements in technology to add more than 800 pounds to the average vehicle and to nearly double horsepower, while fuel economy has slipped. Today we have the technology to preserve or improve the current size, utility, performance, and safety characteristics of our vehicles, while at the same time increasing fuel economy. And over the next 20 years, hybrid technology - including hybrids that run on clean, alternative fuels - and plug-in hybrids, can deliver even greater gains in fuel economy. In the short-term, we need to take steps to ensure that there are more of all of these types of vehicles on the road.
- Strengthen CAFE. We must raise our federal fuel economy standards. America has already proven that such strides are possible. Fuel economy for new passenger cars nearly doubled between 1975 - when standards were first adopted - and their peak in 1988, while fuel economy for new light trucks increased by 50 percent. But the rules for passenger cars haven't changed since 1985, and the average mileage of our new cars and trucks today is at its lowest level in 20 years. Increased fuel economy standards would also bring significant reductions in global warming pollution.
- Accelerate the Conversion of American Vehicles to Flexible Fuel Technology. Flexible fuel vehicles can run on higher blends of ethanol, which helps displace petroleum. The Kerry plan mandates that by 2020, 100% of cars can run on flex fuels.
- Tax Credits to Convert Factories to Build the Cars of the Future. A recent study by the University of Michigan found that unless US automakers move faster to build hybrids, thousands of jobs could be lost. Producing fuel-efficient, advanced-technology vehicles will require automakers and their suppliers to retool their factories. Hybrid vehicles rely on advanced equipment such as battery packs, electric motors and generators, and electronic power controllers - components that currently come from factories in Japan and Europe. Tax credits will help manufacturers make capital investments necessary to retool their factories, increase the cost-effectiveness of advanced technologies, and stimulate job growth in the production of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. Senator Kerry's plan will provide a total of $3 billion over the next five years in consumer and manufacturer tax credits to spur these changes.
- Close the SUV Loophole. Under current tax policy, the government grants massive tax breaks to purchasers of SUVs. The original intent of the provision was to increase capital investments by farmers and other small business owners who rely on light-trucks or vans. When this provision was added to the tax code, luxury passenger SUVs were not the market force they have become, and it appeared a good way to help small businesses. Over time, however, this provision has developed into a loophole big enough to drive a 6,000-pound SUV through. The Kerry proposal will eliminate the loophole that allows the law to be misused by more accurately defining "passenger vehicles" and "work vehicles."
Promoting Biofuels and Infrastructure
To reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we must ensure an adequate supply of advanced technology vehicles and an adequate supply of fuel to power them. Recently-passed energy legislation included a number of provisions that should be rapidly implemented and fully funded to expand investment in alternative fuels. There are more vehicles on the road that can run on biofuels. Now we must remove the barriers to ethanol and other biofuels at fueling stations across the country. And, we need to build facilities to make ethanol from switchgrass and other waste products, in addition to corn, so we can ensure that 30 percent of our fuels are biofuels by 2020.
- Mandate Ethanol Pumps at Gas Stations. Today, there are 6 million flex fuel vehicles on the road, but less than one percent of the nation's fueling stations have E85 pumps. Kerry will ensure that 18,000 gas stations owned or branded by a major oil company offer at least one ethanol pump by 2010. And he plans to offer an amendment to the energy spending bill later this year to help us move towards that goal. The Kerry plan will also provide incentives to independent and retail chain owners to install clean alternative fueling pumps.
- Keep Ethanol Competitive with Oil. Kerry believes that we should take steps to ensure that there is a market for ethanol, even if the price of oil falls dramatically. The Kerry plan would make the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax credit (VEETC) variable with the price of oil to ensure that if oil prices drop, investment in ethanol does not. Kerry's proposal would vary the credit from $0.40 at current prices up to $0.80, instead of the current $0.51 credit as oil prices fluctuate from $70 to $30 per gallon.
- Invest in Cellulosic Ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol has the potential to substantially reduce our consumption of gasoline. Unlike traditional ethanol, which is made from grains such as corn, wheat or soybeans, cellulosic ethanol can be produced from a great diversity of biomass, and a technological breakthrough could lead to widespread use of cellulosic ethanol to fuel our vehicles. The Kerry plan will increase the cellulosic ethanol production incentives to $2 billion over 10 years.
B. Enhancing Domestic Energy Supply
Promoting Renewable Energy
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have implemented market-based Renewable Energy Portfolio programs that require utilities to gradually increase the portion of electricity produced from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar energy. A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that under the Energy Information Administration's 2004 gas price forecast, a renewable standard of 20 percent by 2020 would save $26.6 billion and that commercial and industrial customers would be the biggest winners.
- National Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. Kerry's proposal will direct the Department of Energy to seek an aggressive federal renewable energy purchase requirement and to establish a national Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard of 20 percent by 2020.
C. Increasing Energy Efficiency
In addition to developing new sources of energy, we must make better use of available energy. New technological advances in appliances, energy grid systems, and buildings can boost productivity, create jobs, improve the reliability and safety of the energy infrastructure, and make dramatic inroads in reducing air pollution. Energy efficiency investments are crucial for meeting both our near-term and long-term energy needs.
Setting Stronger Efficiency Standards for Buildings and Appliances
- Increase Federal Government Energy Efficiency. The Kerry plan will mandate that the government decrease energy usage through efficiency and conservation measures to achieve a reduction in federal energy consumption of 25% by 2025.
- New 'Model' Efficiency Standards. The Kerry plan will require the Department of Energy to develop national "model standards" to make new buildings at least 30 percent more energy efficient and update appliance efficiency standards and standards for manufactured homes, which account for almost one-third of new housing construction. The Kerry plan will also require that updated standards be reevaluated every five years for most appliances to determine whether the standards need to be strengthened.
- National Standards for Utilities. The Kerry plan will direct the Department of Energy to establish national standards requiring utilities to obtain, each year, one percent of their energy supplies through energy efficiency improvements at customer facilities. These savings would accumulate each year through 2025.
(3) Developing Energy Technologies for the Future
- Senator Kerry will double federal government funding for energy research and development; increase incentives for private sector energy research, development, demonstration, and early deployment (ERD); expand investment in cooperative international ERD initiatives and facilitate greater coordination among relevant federal agencies.
- Establish a new Energy Security and Conservation Trust Fund. Reducing our dependence on oil and building a future of clean and abundant energy are urgent national priorities. Our political system, however, does not treat them that way. To assure that the nation is on a track to reduce oil dependence, Kerry is once again calling for the creation of an Energy Security and Conservation Trust Fund capitalized by rolling back tax breaks for big oil. The revenues will be dedicated to accelerating the commercialization of technologies that will reduce America's dangerous dependence on oil. The Trust Fund will allocate $20 billion over the next decade to reduce oil dependence and create a cleaner and more reliable energy future.