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Tom Harkin on Energy & Oil

Democratic Jr Senator (IA)


Convert the nation’s vehicle fleet to flex-fuel vehicles

America’s energy future lies in the corn and soybean fields of Iowa and the Midwest. Senators Harkin & Lugar introduced the American Fuels Act of 2007, to rapidly increase the production, distribution, and consumption of renewable fuels. Bush has promise in every single State of the Union address of his presidency to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Every year there has been very little follow-through. For six straight years our dependence has increased, not decreased. We cannot wait any longe to pass legislation to develop real renewable fuel alternatives. We need to rapidly develop the technology to produce cellulose-based ethanol from corn stover, switchgrass, wood chips, and other forms of biomass. We need to create a distribution network to get all that ethanol to consumers. We need to convert the nation’s vehicle fleet to flex-fuel vehicles capable of using blends higher than the 10-percent ethanol blend widely available now. The Harkin-Lugar legislation would accomplish those goals.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.tomharkin.com , Aug 18, 2008

Develop cellulosic ethanol, wind, and solar

Reed advocated for drilling for more American oil to bring down the price of gasoline and create jobs. “My opponent has no desire to drill for oil--none. His plan is simply to tax production and expand government,” Reed said. “That will never put one dro of fuel in your tank. My plan is to drill here, drill now and drill often.”

Reed said domestic oil sources would help in the meantime while alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power are developed into a more viable means of energy. Reed also urged energy conservation, but said that should come from individual responsibility, not from a government mandate.

In contrast, Harkin argued drilling on the intercontinental shelf is expensive and would do little to immediately bring down oil prices. Instead, he argued for developing technologies such as an electric-powered car and cellulosic ethanol in addition to developing wind and solar energy. “We need an energy program that doesn’t just chase the last barrel of oil,” Harkin said.

Source: 2008 Iowa Senate debate reported in Des Moines Globe Gazette , Aug 13, 2008

Rapidly increase renewable fuels from corn and soybean

America’s energy future lies in the corn and soybean fields of Iowa and the Midwest, not in the oil fields of the Middle East. That’s why earlier this month; Senator Harkin and Senator Lugar introduced the American Fuels Act of 2007, to rapidly increase the production, distribution, and consumption of renewable fuels, from corn stover, switchgrass, wood chips, and other forms of biomass. At the same time, we need to create a distribution network to get all that ethanol to consumers.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.tomharkin.com, “Issues” , Mar 2, 2008

Voted NO on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Congressional Summary:To prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change. The Clean Air Act is amended by adding a section entitled, "No Regulation of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases". In this section, the term 'greenhouse gas' means any of the following:
  1. Water vapor
  2. Carbon dioxide
  3. Methane
  4. Nitrous oxide
  5. Sulfur hexafluoride
  6. Hydrofluorocarbons
  7. Perfluorocarbons
  8. Any other substance subject to, or proposed to be subject to regulation to address climate change.
The definition of the term 'air pollutant' does not include a greenhouse gas, except for purposes of addressing concerns other than climate change.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Sen. McConnell, R-KY]: The White House is trying to impose a backdoor national energy tax through the EPA. It is a strange way to respond to rising gas prices. But it is perfectly consistent with the current Energy Secretary's previously stated desire to get gas prices in the US up to where they are in Europe.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Sen. Lautenberg, D-NJ]:We hear the message that has been going around: Let's get rid of the EPA's ability to regulate. Who are they to tell us what businesses can do? Thank goodness that in this democratic society in which we live, there are rules and regulations to keep us as a civilized nation. The Supreme Court and scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency agreed that the Clean Air Act is a tool we must use to stop dangerous pollution. This amendment, it is very clear, favors one group--the business community. The Republican tea party politicians say: "Just ignore the Supreme Court. Ignore the scientists. We know better." They want to reward the polluters by crippling EPA's ability to enforce the Clean Air Act.
Status: Failed 50-50 (3/5

Reference: Energy Tax Prevention Act; Bill Am183 to S.49 ; vote number 11-SV054 on Apr 6, 2011

Voted NO on protecting middle-income taxpayers from a national energy tax.