Time for Action On Energy

I just wanted to drop by The Democratic Daily to give all of you an update on the energy bill. To no one’s surprise, the Republicans are throwing sand in the gears and trying to block any meaningful progress. The energy bill, as it stands, is not nearly strong enough, so there are a number of amendments that must be adopted to give us a bill that actually gets us started on that path of dealing with our energy crisis and our climate crisis.

When we tried to bring up the Bingaman amendment last night that requires the use of alternative energy sources, the Republicans in the Senate simply refused to vote up-or-down on it, essentially demanding that the amendment get 60 votes to even be considered. They were trying to put everything on hold and block progress. The procedural details of what they’re doing and our responses gets pretty arcane pretty quickly, but, as I type this, we’re locked in a battle to move all of this forward.

It’s amazing to me that some people still refuse to see the gravity of the situation staring us in the face, with the best science telling us we may only have a decade to act before the climate crisis reaches a dangerous tipping point. But there are the same interests throwing up the same roadblocks. Take CAFE standards – I and many others are demanding that the standards be raised to 35 mpg by the end of the next decade, with light trucks and SUVs included in that and other mandatory requirements for medium and heavy trucks. And we want to close the loopholes that allow automakers to miss even those targets. But the Bush Administration has written to Congress that they are opposed to ANY numerical requirement in the statute. Think about that for a moment … they say they want fuel economy to get better, but they don’t want to put any numeric requirements about what that means. And they want medium and heavy trucks exempted from even that!

Another area where I’m pushing is to require that at least 20% of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. This has been a part of my energy plan since 2002, and I mentioned this over and over (and over) during the campaign in 2004. There has been significant support for this change now in Congress, but there are still the powerful interests arrayed against it.

Dogmatic refusal to consider new approaches to this crisis can have such enormous consequences, it boggles the mind how people can do it.

There’s been some articles and talk indicating the big fights were going to be over some of the same tired issues of the past — but that’s not entirely true. Sure, there is once again a proposal to drill in ANWR – and we once again will strongly fight that. But overall, there are significant steps being taken, and now there’s a leadership in the Congress that wants action on this. In addition to the CAFÉ standards, I’m fighting to get more conservation and efficiency throughout the economy, and we have a bill pending to make the Capitol complex green, so that the federal government can be a model of how to make workplaces environmentally friendly not a glaring example of “do as I say not as I do” politics. While I strongly oppose any bills promoting coal-to-liquid technology, I’m also fighting to make our most widely used electrical generating fuel, coal, cleaner with carbon capture and sequestration pilot projects and research funding. And I’m working to ban the building of any new coal-fired plants without that technology.

All of these proposals have significant support in Congress, and, unlike in the last couple of Congresses, the leadership is behind my efforts to get real votes on these issues and force some change.

But I’ve learned starting way back when I was working as an activist on the first Earth Day that environmental change doesn’t happen without a lot of activism from Americans. There are too many monied interests defending the status quo because they think it makes them more money. They don’t want to upset their old balance sheets by embracing the new economy and the prosperity that will flow from abundant clean energy.

There are lots of business people who do recognize that and many sectors of our economy are already leaping ahead of the federal government on these questions. (Fred Smith of Fed Ex testifies today in front of my committee about the importance of raising fuel economy standards.) But the entrenched interests (especially Big Oil) still hold sway with many in Congress. So the activism of ordinary Americans is desperately needed to tip the scales decisively in favor of a new direction. Call your Senators today and tell them that you want a new direction. Tell them that you want CAFE standards raised, that you want at least 20% of our energy to be from renewable resources, that you want significant action on energy policy.

Thanks for your time. Being in the thick of all of the floor fights, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to respond to any comments today, but I’ll try, and I’ll at least read through them all at the end of the day.

Cross posted on the Daily Kos.

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21 Responses to Time for Action On Energy

  1. Thank you so much for the update Senator Kerry. The Republicans are acting just as we imagined the energy hogs and thugs would. How do those people sleep at night?

  2. JK

    As always you are ahead of the curve and pushing for what is right. A pleasure to have you here today amidst your very busy schedule!

  3. Pingback: John Kerry: It’s Time for Action on Energy « Michael P.F. van der Galiën

  4. Michaelvdg says:

    Senator Kerry, I hope you’ll be able to answer this question: recently, Rudy Giuliani said that he believes America should start a gigantic program to fight global warming and to become energy independent (he compared it to the program to put a man on the moon). Can we, therefore, hope that the Republicans will grow more towards your view on this particular issue?

    What do you think the likelihood of such a change in the Republican Party is and will you try to hold Giuliani to his words / reach out to him, if so, how?

  5. Pingback: John Frenchy Kerry Wants Action On Energy : Simply Conservative

  6. John Kerry says:


    I welcome all efforts to fight global warming from anyone. My bill is a bipartisan bill (with Olympia Snowe), so I know there are some Republicans who believe in action on this, in fact Newt Gingrich seems to be moving in that direction, but they’re vast outnumbered by the flat-earth caucus on this issue.

    Trust me, I’ve debated Jim Inhofe on this – the widespread denial of the science hasn’t abated. I’ll wait to see some action before I comment any further.

    Even George Bush has said some things about dealing with global climate change, but then his Administration turns around and promises to veto anything that would move us forward.

  7. ironxl84 says:

    What a great pleasure to read a post by John Kerry!

    Those of us old enough to remember may recall a time when the USA nearly shifted it’s attitudes regarding energy usage and efficiency.

    We were almost right there then, but then Reagan got elected and with that election, any who promoted being “green” were looked upon as a fringe element, “tree huggers”, etc.

    Now here we are so many years later with gas guzzling SUV’s dominating the highways, and engaging in wars in the Middle East.

    Maybe this time around the US will get it right – before we destroy the planet with ignorance.


  8. Pingback: John Kerry: It’s Time for Action on Energy » The Moderate Voice

  9. Darrell Prows says:

    Senator Kerry: It’s amazing to me that Congress is still at the point of bandaids and half measures on this vitally important issue. I took “ecology” during the sixties, and did the hippie thing a little, etc. We invented recycling and conservation. We were even on the alternative energy bandwagon already. Now we look up forty years later and the society has only completed the first ten miles of a hundred mile journey. You were there and know exactly what I’m talking about.

    The Capital Building has been taken over by dinosaurs, and it’s not clear where we can go to find dinosaur exterminators. Given the mindset of the place, I can understand why even your proposals are watered down. You got some folks over there who would have a stroke if they ever really tried to get their minds around the enormity of the situation. More subsidies for nuclear power, for god sake!

    People are pessimistic, and I’m not sure that you can find a way to tell us why we shouldn’t be.

    Thank you for your time.

  10. Michaelvdg says:

    Senator Kerry,

    thank you for the rapid response. I agree completely of course: some of them talk the talk, but it’s time for those people to walk the walk as well and to take their party with them (on their path towards cleaner energy / energy independence / etc.).

  11. C Stanley says:

    Senator Kerry,
    I find myself wondering if more progress might be made on energy policy if the focus is taken off of global warming and put instead on other reasons for ending our dependency on oil. It would seem that politically, more support would result from such an approach because some of the loudest voices that dissent from global warming warnings are often people who would be likely to see the advantages to energy independence as it relates to our foreign policy. And although some citizens pay more attention to issues of air quality than others, there really isn’t a constituency that truly would oppose cleaner air (with the possible exception of those who are closely aligned with certain industries- and even they probably do want cleaner air when they put on their ‘citizen’ hats).

    Is this something that you and Senator Snowe have considered, to change the emphasis of the argument and try leaving the contentiousness over AGW behind for the sake of broadening support for your proposals?

    I also wonder if you could comment on the argument against raising CAFE standards which says that safety would be sacrificed in order to meet the criteria for lower emissions.

  12. Thank you very much for stopping by, Senator.

    When do you suppose that the “special interests” are going to notice that our dependence on foreign oil (specificially) is taking us down an inevitable path of confrontation — towards an endless round of resource wars? (cf. Gulf War I).

    What kind of “special interest” is that?

  13. Sandy says:

    Thank you Senator. I think we all continue to be flummoxed at how people can deny what’s right before their very eyes. 49% still have a good view of the Republican Party. *sigh*

    I suppose I should take this opportunity to draw your attention to the wave projects off the Oregon Coast. There are several proposals and we need to make sure we get the right ones put in. The one in my town is a huge monstrosity of a project, while other systems float on top of the water. The important thing is to consider output, cost and environment; but that is hard to do when truth is such a rarity these days. I hope you will work with Senator Wyden in getting the correct information to coastal citizens.

    BTW, we all know Teresa has some secret potion that enables the both of you to function on no sleep. That is why we continue to pile these herculean projects on your shoulders – yes we do think you can save the planet from environmental calamity, end war and poverty, and cure cancer, all by next Tuesday. 🙂

  14. C Stanley

    Good points. I’ll make sure that the Senator sees your comment.

    Kerry frequently speaks on the need to break our dependency on big oil. I think Global Warming is getting a lot more attention and though it still is a contentious issue for some, we’re making headway on getting bi-partisan support for making changes, as Kerry noted.

    There’s more on the Kerry/Snowe bill here:

    Kerry recently gave a speech at the national Press Club on Global Warming and the addiction ot oil that might be of interest to you as well: http://blog.thedemocraticdaily.com/?p=5957

    And here’s a post from a over a year ago about breaking the dependency on big oil:http://blog.thedemocraticdaily.com/?p=1930

    And finally, welcome to The Dem Daily.

  15. C Stanley says:

    Thanks, Pamela, I’ll check out those links.

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  17. BlueWashington says:


    As we all know, there are too many Republicans in the Senate. I’ve read about the days when LBJ was Majority Leader and led a caucus of something like 65 – WOW! That’s a nice number to shoot for.
    I know you have your own campaign to work on next year, but will have any programs/activities to help other Dems into the Senate?
    As was stated above, we can go after after the plan another way – threw a backdoor; describing the problem in another light (i.e. see the movie, ‘Amazing Grace’, how Britain first started to outlawed slavery – very crafty).
    Anyway, it’s nice to see some bi-partisan interest in the Global Warming problem, but when the rubber hits the road, it plan seems we need more Dems in the Senate.

    Thanks for your efforts Senator.

  18. ironxl84 says:

    Speaking of Energy…

    Has anyone seen this?


    I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten more mainstream media attention!


  19. Hughes says:

    Senator Kerry, first let me applaud your use of the blogosphere to reach out to voters. It’s great to see our elected representatives actively engaged in online debate. And second, I do some work with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and would encourage you to support the Pryor-Bond-Levin-Voinovich Amendment, which, as you know, raises standards for passenger cars to at least 36 miles per gallon average by 2022 with light trucks increasing to at least 30 mpg by 2025. We believe that these goals are aggressive yet achievable and are a big step in the right direction. If anyone would like more information, please visit our website at http://www.drivecongress.com.

  20. Ginny Cotts says:

    Sandy Says:
    June 14th, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I think she’s got it! 😆

    Ok, Senator, we know you are not Luke Skywalker, Aragorn or Dumbledore. You sure seem to have a lot of answers and ideas we like.

    I want to emphatically agree with C Stanley’s comments at 1:28 pm. The environmental issues go far beyond global warming and the others are just as important if not more so. I was very impressed with Jared Diamond’s Collapse because he gave so much historical evidence for man made environmental problems causing the collapse of civilizations in the past, while other nations overcame their problems and are still functioning. I found the book fascinating rather than dry or difficult, and very hopeful.

    The concept that I think he makes clear, that has been the center of Al Gore’s efforts, as well as yours and Teresa’s, is that this effort must be both bottom up and top down. Those of us at the grassroots have to be involved in many ways, first and foremost by putting pressure on Congress to get some effective legislation passed.

    Your insights and information regarding the procedural issues in the Senate are very helpful for activists to be more effective.

    Thanks for the tremendous energy, effort and leadership you continue to give to this country.

  21. Ginny Cotts says:

    I am putting this up again in case you didn’t check it out the first time. Thanks to Tom for putting it in here. This is awesome.

    ironxl84 Says:
    June 15th, 2007 at 7:14 am
    Speaking of Energy…

    Has anyone seen this?


    Yet another example of how people working outside their area of expertise can come up with major breakthroughs the professionals had not even thought of. Mostly by sheer chance.

    To think that we could be running our vehicles on saltwater is not only a shock, it reinforces how stupidly the oil industry has clung to their profits rather than move the technology in a direction that benefits all of us.

    At least in the information age, it will be hard for them to go buy the idea and bury it so they can keep drilling for oil money.

    I also saw a video a month or so ago on a French father/son development of a car that runs on compressed air.

    Someday, the last car I buy will run off of air or water?