March 11, 2012

U.S. Energy Policy Sen. Leahy Correspondence

March 11, 2011
Dear Sen. Leahy,

Thanks for keeping me informed about your Senate votes and views on energy policy.

I respectfully disagree with your anti-fossil fuel stance. It's abundantly clear that oil, gas and coal will remain the primary energy sources in this country in our children's and grandchildren's lifetimes.

Advocating for more costly renewables that, if implemented with today's expensive and relatively inefficient technologies, will raise the energy bill for Vermont and the nation is an unsound trade-off while we seek an economic recovery. In my view, the promise of 'green jobs' is more political rhetoric than reality.

We have abundant supplies of fossil fuels on this continent and to deny their use is not in the best interests of this nation. The real technological advances have been in the oil and gas industries which accounts for the recent dramatic increase in domestic oil and natural gas production.  In the US, the oil and gas extraction sector grew at a rate of 4.5 per cent in 2011 compared to an overall GDP growth rate of 1.7 per cent. With a multiplier effect of ~3:1, that means this sector created 150,000 jobs. The sector’s highly skilled workforce is also well-paid compared to other sectors. That's a good thing but your policies would slow down that growth.

If you advocate that renewables will positively affect climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, then please let us know what the average global temperature should be, how much it will cost the world to get there, and what is our 'fair share.' Otherwise, you're simply whistling in the wind apparently for political rather than practical reasons.

If you're truly concerned about reducing CO2 emissions, we should build more nuclear power plants and you should persuade Sen. Reid that Yucca Mountain is a necessary repository for wastes. But an even better solution is recycling used nuclear materials where France has shown the way.

So, to sum up. Your views diverge from mine on energy policy and it's time we stop throwing subsidy dollars around rather than encouraging investments in a sound energy infrastructure, including the Keystone pipeline project.

Where we do agree is that efficiency has the best near term pay-off to reduce the nation's energy bill.


David Usher

On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 17:08, Senator Leahy  wrote:

Dear Mr. Usher:

Because of your interest in the debate on national energy policy and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil refined from dirty tar sands in Canada, I thought you would want to know of the latest developments on Capitol Hill.  Yesterday the Senate defeated two Keystone-related amendments to the bill to reauthorize federal highway system investments, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2011.  These amendments – misleadingly described by their proponents as a remedy to the current run-up of fuel prices -- would have short-circuited the review and approval process to fast-track the Keystone XL pipeline.  Both would have halted any further environmental impact studies, despite the fact that the route around a critical aquifer in Nebraska has yet to be identified.  I voted against both of these amendments, and I am glad to be able to report that both of them failed. 

Instead of focusing on the short-term jobs from the Keystone XL pipeline, we should be investing in sustainable energy sources that create long-term jobs in the emerging renewable energy economy in areas like manufacturing, transmission, research and development.  For our national security, the health of our environment, our family budgets and the strong economy we want and need, we must reduce our dependence not only on foreign oil, but on all fossil fuels.  For decades we have been putting too many eggs in the fossil fuels energy basket, to our detriment. 

At a time when domestic oil production is at its highest in almost a decade and foreign oil imports are at their lowest in 16 years, it is clear that speculation and world markets are driving up the price of oil.  We must forge and implement energy solutions and policies that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by increasing fuel efficiency, developing renewable energy sources and curbing abuses by speculators who are unnecessarily driving up oil prices for their own short-term profits.  The answer is not pipelines and more of the same flawed choices that sacrifice our health, our safety, our environment and our future economic vitality.


United States Senator
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