Bill Nelson on Energy & Oil

Democratic Sr Senator (FL)


Federal MMS was asleep at the wheel with BP oil spill

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Wall Street Journal described the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the government agency that oversees offshore drilling, this way: it "doesn't write or implement most safety regulations, having gradually shifted such responsibilities to the oil industry itself." Bill Nelson summed it up: "If MMS wasn't asleep at the wheel, it sure was letting Big Oil do most of the driving."

The problem isn't a shortage of regulations. It's the way we've allowed the regulated to game the system. The federal government has entire agencies dedicated to overseeing offshore drilling.

Over the last decade, the MMS expressed concerns about the safety of off-shore oil rigs and warned oil companies about the need to have backup safety equipment of the kind that could have prevented the Gulf spill. But, in the face of aggressive lobbying from the oil industry, the agency crossed its fingers, and hoped that the industry would voluntarily police itself.

Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p.136-139 , Sep 2, 2010

We can’t drill, drill, drill our way to oil independence

Q: Both of you agreed to allow oil drilling, at a distance, off Florida’s coast. Should we drill elsewhere, or wean America off of oil?

HARRIS: There are a number of alternatives to drilling in the Gulf, including wind and solar and biofuels. But very importantly, if we don’t want to drill in the Gulf, there’s an enormous opportunity to drill in ANWR. It’s the equivalent to having a football field and putting a postage stamp in the middle of it. That would supply the equivalent of 29 years of energy to Florida. Unfortunately, my opponent continues to vote against exciting opportunities like that.

NELSON: The problem with folks who want to drill, drill, drill is that the US only has 3% of the world’s oil reserves but consumes 25% of the world’s oil production. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to understand you can’t drill your way out of the problem. You’ve got to go to the alternative sources, such as ethanol. Hybrids. Plug-in hybrids. Utilizing more conservation.

Source: FL 2006 Senate Debate moderated by PBS’ Linda O’Brien , Oct 23, 2006

Supports spending resources to stop Global Warming

No one state or nation can solve the problem of global warming by itself. But we each can do our part, including local governments and individual citizens.

As individuals, we each can help by reducing energy consumption in our homes, purchasing energy-efficient lighting, appliances and automobiles, and taking other steps to curb the pollution that contributes to global warming.

Source: Remarks at Public Interest Environmental Conf., 3/22/97 , Sep 20, 2000

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 YES on protecting middle-income taxpayers from a national energy tax.