Joe Biden on Energy & Oil
Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)
A: We have. In his inaugural address, the president said, "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations." In the very beginning, we decided that we had to move on this. And we thought, cap-and-trade. But it got shut down, even when we had a Democratic Congress. So from that point on, the president has been trying to figure out how he can use his executive authority to make some real changes.
Q: Despite the congressional opposition, do you feel the Obama administration has made inroads in the climate fight?
A: The thing I'm proudest of that we were able to get done in the first term was the Recovery Act. It had $90 billion in clean-energy programs. We had a lot of money going into research and development, and also tax credits for wind and solar energy.
A: The truth is, right now, no, because we know it will go nowhere. Look, one of the things we are doing, and the president is asking me to kind of get ahead of here, is that we have a real chance, both in this hemisphere and with China, to enter into joint ventures on renewable energy and on cleaner-burning natural gas. Let me give you an example: The Chinese are building something like one new coal-fired plant a week. The Chinese have figured out that they have a giant environmental problem. Folks in Beijing, some days, literally can't breathe. So we have a great opportunity here to figure out how we can not only begin to wean ourselves off of carbon-based fuels but wean the world off of them too. It's just a gigantic opportunity, and it produces a boatload of jobs. There are going to be 600,000 new jobs out there in the gas industry over the next 10 to 12 years.
President Obama is committed to do that. And he is going to have an interlocutor in John Kerry. There is no one in my country who has been, over the period of time he's been in the Senate, more concerned with or knowledgeable about the issues relating to global warming.
The solar company Solyndra was one of those companies that was shown the money at the beginning of Obama's presidency, as it was a recipient of the stimulus under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the time, Solyndra was touted as the model to follow by the Administration for its green energy economy.
Joe Biden said that the loan guarantee to Solyndra was an "unprecedented investment this Administration is making in renewable energy and exactly what the Recovery Act is all about."
Now Solyndra has completely collapsed and gone bankrupt; it is clear that the President's policies of "showing the money" has meant throwing the money away. In the end, Solyndra is more than just a bankrupt company: it is a metaphor for the failure of Obama's war on affordable energy and American fossil fuel jobs.
BIDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely we do. We call for setting hard targets.
Q: On clean coal?
BIDEN: My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology. A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it wonít be as dirty, it will be clean.
PALIN: As governor of the nationís only Arctic state, Alaska feels & sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that itís real. Iím not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for manís activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet. But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I donít want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?
BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think itís clearly manmade. If you donít understand what the cause is, itís virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. Thatís the cause. Thatís why the polar icecap is melting.
PALIN: I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. Weíve got to reduce emissions. John McCain is right there with an ďall of the aboveĒ approach to deal with climate change impacts. As we rely more on other countries that donít care as much about the climate as we do, weíre allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for. Itís all the more reason that we have an ďall of the aboveĒ approach, tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet
A: I see a role for nuclear, but first you've got to deal with the security as well as the safety concerns. I'd be spending a whole hell of a lot of money trying to figure out how to reconfigure the spent fuel into reusable fuel. I would not invest in [growing our nuclear power capacity in its current form], but I would invest in sorting out the storage and waste problems.
There are two things wrong with this statement. One, it took two months, not a ďmoment,Ē for the price of a barrel of oil to increase by $18. The price per barrel was $80.31 on Sept. 26, the date of the Senate resolution. It wasnít until Nov. 19 that it went up as much as Biden says, to $99.16.
The second problem is that connecting the increase in the price of oil to the declaration on the Revolutionary Guard is a rather stunning post-hoc fallacy. Thereís no evidence that something like the Senate resolution would have anything approaching such a dramatic effect on the price of oil. Some would expect [SOME] impact from Bushís sabre-rattling [but] risky financial maneuvers by high-stakes speculators may be having a bigger effect.
We also have legislation in requiring we invest $100 million a year for the next couple of years in order to be able to find lithium battery technology to be able to power our cars.
We also have legislation talking about capping emissions. Cap them now; not wait. Cap them where they are now. Timeís running out.
But you have to be willing to make multi-billion dollar investments over the next 10 years and set hard goals in order to be able to get to the point where we are no longer dependent.
Over the years, I had occasionally listened to Biden's discussions of energy and realized he had not changed. He still seemed opposed to sensible innovations, from clean coal to nuclear energy to responsible new directional drilling techniques in places like ANWR. On one issue after another, Obama's VP choice was loaded with government experience but still seemed to have no understanding of logical steps we could take to capitalize on American energy resources.
Despite the positive elements of this legislation, the main sticking point is whether temporary extensions of tax relief should be offset with permanent tax increases elsewhere. The White House issued a statement recommending a Presidential veto of this bill in its current form. [Vote NAY to] allow the Senate to work its will and pass legislation that can be quickly signed by the President.
But what happens with the DeMint motion, he gives China and India a veto power over what we should be doing. Imagine saying we are not going to do anything about human rights until China acts. Why would we give up our chance to take the mantle of leadership and finally grab hold of this issue? I cannot look into the eyes of my grandchildren and tell them: Sorry, I am giving over my proxy to China & India, and I can't do anything about it.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This legislation seeks to end the unwarranted tax breaks & subsidies which have been lavished on Big Oil over the last several years, at a time of record prices at the gas pump and record oil industry profits. Big Oil is hitting the American taxpayer not once, not twice, but three times. They are hitting them at the pump, they are hitting them through the Tax Code, and they are hitting them with royalty holidays put into oil in 1995 and again in 2005.
It is time to vote for the integrity of America's resources, to vote for the end of corporate welfare, to vote for a new era in the management of our public energy resources.
Opponents support voting NO because:
I am wearing this red shirt today, because this shirt is the color of the bill that we are debating, communist red. It is a taking. It will go to court, and it should be decided in court.
This bill will increase the competitive edge of foreign oil imported to this country. If the problem is foreign oil, why increase taxes and make it harder to produce American oil and gas? That makes no sense. We should insert taxes on all foreign oil imported. That would raise your money for renewable resources. But what we are doing here today is taxing our domestic oil. We are raising dollars supposedly for renewable resources, yet we are still burning fossil fuels.
Status: Bill passed Bill passed, 65-27
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
It just seems logical that we ask the Corps of Engineers to include in their analyses, judgments about the potential impact of global climate change. All this amendment seeks to do, as a matter of common sense, is to ask the Army Corps of Engineers to factor climate change into their future plans. Secondly, we are making a statement here to finally recognize the reality of what is happening with respect to climate change.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
The same people today who are saying we are all going to die from global warming, just back in the middle 1970s were saying another ice age is coming and we are all going to die. Which way do you want it?
If a surge of anthropogenic gases--this CO2, methane, or whatever it is--were causing a warming period, then around 1945 we would have a warming period because in the middle 1940s we had the greatest increase in greenhouse gases. But what happened? It did not precipitate a warming period.
Peer reviewed evidence shows that the sun has actually been driving the temperature change. You don't have to be a scientist to know that the Sun can have something to do with climate change.
Implementing Kyoto would reduce the average annual household income nearly $2,700, at a time when the cost of all goods would rise sharply.
Mr. President: A recent federal court decision regarding energy efficient air conditioners is a significant victory for consumers, for the environment, and for our nation's energy future. We respectfully request that you do not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District (Natural Resources Defense Council et al v. Abraham, Docket 01-4102) affirmed that central air conditioners sold beginning in 2006 must be at least 30% more energy efficient than those available today.
Air conditioners are a necessary modern convenience but are also major users of electricity. On hot days, cooling homes and businesses is the largest category of electricity demand. Requiring air conditioners to be as energy efficient as possible will begin to reduce the stress on the electricity generation and transmission network and decrease the likelihood of blackouts that many regions of the country experience during warm weather conditions.
Air conditioners that meet the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating 13 standard will provide benefits for consumers, the environment, and the nation. The SEER 13 standard will alleviate the need for additional electricity production and transmission resulting in as many as 48 fewer power plants required by 2020. This standard will also result in less harmful air pollution being emitted into the atmosphere. Moreover, by 2020 power plant emissions of carbon dioxide will be 2.5 million tons lower as a result, and emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides will also be held down resulting in cleaner air and healthier citizens.
Finally, the higher standard can be expected to save businesses and residential consumers $1 billion per year in lower electricity bills. Lower electricity bills will recover the slightly higher purchase cost for the more efficient air conditioners in less than 18 months.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to provide for a program of scientific research on abrupt climate change, to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the US by establishing a market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances, to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the US and reduce dependence upon foreign oil, and ensure benefits to consumers from the trading in such allowances.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This bill is designed to begin a meaningful and shared effort among the emission-producing sectors of our country to address the world's greatest environmental challenge--climate change.
The National Academy of Sciences reported, "temperatures are, in fact, rising." The overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is real, that it is happening as we speak.
Terrible things are happening at the poles, which will have global implications. Amplified global warming, rising sea levels, and potential alterations in ocean circulation patterns are among the global concerns.
The International Climate Change Task Force recommended that "all developed countries introduce mandatory cap-and-trade systems for carbon emissions and construct them to allow for future integration into a single global market." That is already being done in Europe as we speak, which is the substance of this legislation.
If we do not move on this issue, our children and grandchildren are going to pay an incredibly heavy price because this crisis is upon us, only we do not see its visible aspects in all of its enormity. We have done relatively nothing besides gather additional data and make reports. That is what the US national policy is today: gather information and make reports. I would argue that is a pretty heavy burden to lay on future generations of Americans.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; never came to a vote.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to increase fuel economy standards for automobiles.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: At a time when the energy and security stakes couldn't be higher, CAFE standards have been stagnant. In fact, because of a long-standing deadlock in Washington, CAFE standards that initially increased so quickly have remained stagnant for the last 20 years.
Since 1985, efforts to raise the CAFE standard have been stymied by opponents who have argued that Congress does not possess the expertise to set specific benchmarks.
To attempt to break this two-decade-long deadlock and start the US on the path towards energy independence, we introduce the Fuel Economy Reform Act of 2006. This bill would set a new course by establishing regular, continual, and incremental progress in miles per gallon, targeting 4% annually, but preserving NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) expertise and flexibility on how to meet those targets.
Under this system, if the 4% annualized improvement occurs over ten years, this bill would save 20 billion gallons of gasoline per year. If gasoline is just $2.50 per gallon, consumers will save $50 billion at the pump in 2018. By 2018, we would be cutting global warming pollution by 220 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent gases.
In order to enable domestic manufacturers to develop advanced-technology vehicles, this legislation provides tax incentives to retool parts and assembly plants. This will strengthen the US auto industry by allowing it to compete with foreign hybrid and other fuel efficient vehicles. It is our expectation that NHTSA will use its enhanced authority to bring greater market-based flexibility into CAFE compliance by allowing the banking and trading of credits among all vehicle types and between manufacturers.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Finance; never came to a vote.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CAF scores as follows:
The Campaign for America's Future (CAF) is a center for ideas and action that works to build an enduring majority for progressive change. The Campaign advances a progressive economic agenda and a vision of the future that works for the many, not simply the few. The Campaign is leading the fight for America's priorities--against privatization of Social Security, for investment in energy independence, good jobs and a sustainable economy, for an ethical and accountable Congress and for high quality public education.
About the CAF report, "Energy Independence: Record vs. Rhetoric":
Energy independence has surfaced as a defining issue in the current elections. Are most candidates and both parties truly committed? To help distinguish the demonstrated level of support for homegrown, clean energy alternatives, we examined the voting records of current U.S. Representatives and Senators on bills vital to promoting those interests. Key pieces of legislation included goals for independence, and subsidies for the development of alternatives compared to subsidies for drilling and digging. We then compared votes on these issues with campaign contributions from major oil interests. The results show strong inverse correlations between political contributions from big oil and votes for energy independence.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, DESIGNATION OF PORTION OF ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AS WILDERNESS.
The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 is amended by adding at the end the following:
Designation of Certain Land as Wilderness- Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska comprising approximately 1,559,538 acres, as generally depicted on a map entitled 'Arctic National Wildlife Refuge--1002 Area. Alternative E--Wilderness Designation, October 28, 1991' and available for inspection in the offices of the Secretary, is designated as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System under the Wilderness Act'.
A bill to permit California and other States to effectively control greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, and for other purposes. Amends the Clean Air Act to approve the application of the state of California for a waiver of federal preemption of its motor vehicle emission standards.
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