The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Caucus Commends Landrieu, Lincoln, Pryor & Corker on Plan to Reduce Gas Prices

Posted on August 04, 2008 at 01:23 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus commends Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) for leading a group of ten Senators in unveiling a bipartisan, sweeping energy proposal to reduce gas prices, lessen our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and strengthen America’s economy.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus has long endorsed the emphasis on expanded use of renewable fuels and conservation that are two of the important parts of the plan. Regarding efforts to expand production, we agree with their practical, bipartisan approach that what we need is a comprehensive package where both parties are willing to make reasonable compromises. We would encourage the Presidential campaigns of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain to also be flexible and cooperative enough to come up with a comprehensive plan to reduce energy costs, rather than seeing it as a way to score partisan political points for one side or the other.

We are glad that four Delta Senators–Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee were among the leaders of this bipartisan group.

While all regions of America are badly damaged by the skyrocketing energy costs, it is a fact that a relatively impoverished region like the Delta is harmed even more, because our many lower-income families pay a larger percentage of their income for gas. Moreover, the lengthy distances that many people have to travel in the vast, rural Delta also drive up our costs.

The Group of five Republican and five Democratic Senators working for the comprehensive energy package include Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

While everybody might not agree with every detail of their plan, they are fundamentally on the right track in taking this bipartisan, practical approach in tackling the outrageously high gas prices.

The comprehensive New Energy Reform Act of 2008, - better known as “New ERA” - lays the groundwork to transition the nation’s motor vehicle fleets to fuels other than gasoline and diesel. To ease gas prices in the interim, the proposal includes significant conservation provisions, consumer tax credits, and responsible measures to increase domestic production.

The Senators welcomed the news that Senate leaders would adopt the group’s proposal to convene next month a summit of energy experts in an effort to develop a plan for securing America’s energy independence.

Below is a detailed descrpition of the New Energy Reform Act:

New Energy Reform Act of 2008: Roadmap to a Secure Energy Future

Overview Knowing that the rising cost of energy is the number one issue facing Americans today, ten Senators from both sides of the aisle have come together to present a proposal to reduce gas prices, lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and strengthen our economy. The New Era legislation represents a true compromise, incorporating common sense ideas.

The purpose of the legislation is to transition our economy – particularly the surface transportation sector – to run off alternative fuels other than gasoline and diesel. The legislation dedicates at least $20 billion in the next ten years to this important endeavor.

To ease gas prices in the interim, the New Era bill includes significant conservation provisions and targeted, responsible measures to increase our domestic production of traditional fuel sources. Any new domestically produced resources must stay in the United States. The bill will also establish a National Commission on Comprehensive Energy Policy to identify critical “inhibitors and prohibiters” to the goals established in the bill and to make recommendations to Congress on policies to overcome these obstacles as well as to address related matters such as carbon capture and storage, nuclear and renewable energy, and the need for upgrading and transitioning the national grid and other energy infrastructure.

The New Era bill contains three main components: • An intensive effort to transition vehicles to non-petroleum based fuels;

• a robust federal commitment to conservation and energy efficiency; and

• targeted, responsible domestic production of energy resources.

Converting Cars and Trucks to Non-Oil Fuel Sources to Regain Energy Independence

The New Era legislation funds a $20 billion “Apollo Project” like effort to support the goal of transitioning 85% of America’s new motor vehicles to non- petroleum-based fuels within 20 years. To accelerate this transition, the legislation includes:

• $7.5 billion for R&D focused on the major technological barriers to alternative fuel vehicles, such as advanced batteries;

• $7.5 billion to help U.S. automakers and parts makers re-tool and re-equip to become the world leader in making alternative fuel vehicles;

• Consumer tax credits of up to $7,500 per vehicle to incentivize Americans to purchase advanced alternative fuel vehicles (those that run primarily on non-petroleum fuels) and up to $2,500 to retrofit existing vehicles with advanced alternative fuel engines.

Enhancing Conservation To ease gas prices and protect our environment during the transition, the proposal includes a significant federal commitment to promoting conservation and efficiency. These include:

• Extending renewable energy, carbon mitigation and energy conservation and efficiency tax incentives, including the production tax credit, through 2012 to create greater certainty and spur greater investment;

• New consumer tax credits of up to $2,500 to purchase highly fuel efficient vehicles, to help Americans reduce their annual gas costs and reduce oil imports;

• Extending and expanding the $2,500 tax credit for hybrid electric vehicles;

• $500 million for R&D into new materials and other innovations to improve vehicle fuel efficiency;

• $2.5 billion in R,D&D on next generation biofuels and infrastructure;

• Tax incentives for the installation of alternative fueling stations, pipelines and other infrastructure;

• Expanding transmission capacity for power from renewable sources;

• New dedicated funding for the weatherization assistance program.

Responsible, Targeted Domestic Energy Production To help meet our energy needs until our economy transitions to advanced alternative fuel vehicles, the New Era bill increases domestic energy production in environmentally responsible ways. The legislation:

• Provides a CO2 sequestration credit for use in enhanced oil recovery to increase production from existing oil wells while reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

• Opens additional acreage in the Gulf of Mexico for leasing (in consultation with the Defense Department to ensure that drilling is done in a manner consistent with national security) and allows Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia to opt in to leasing off their shores. Retains an environmental buffer zone extending 50 miles offshore where new oil production will not be allowed. Requires all new production to be used domestically. Creates a commission to make recommendations to Congress on future areas that should be considered for leasing. Provides for appropriate revenue sharing for states that allow leasing off their shores;

• Provides grants and loan guarantees for the development of coal-to-liquid fuel plants with carbon capture capability. Plants must have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions below those of the petroleum fuels they are replacing;

• Supports nuclear energy by increasing staff at the NRC, providing workforce training, accelerating depreciation for nuclear plants, and supporting R&D on spent fuel recycling to reduce nuclear waste.

Speculation The Group decided to focus on increasing supply and reducing demand and will await the mid-September report of the CFTC to consider this subject.

Offsets The $84 billion in investments in conservation and efficiency in the New Era bill will be fully offset with loophole closers and other revenues. Approximately $30 billion will come from new revenues from the oil and gas industry through such measures as modifying the Section 199 manufacturing deduction for oil and natural gas production and other appropriate measures to ensure that the federal government receives its fair share of revenue from Gulf of Mexico leases. Remaining offsets will be finalized in consultation with the Finance Committee after accounting for interaction effects with other pending legislation.

For another view on energy policy, look at the proposals put forth by Sen. Barack Obama:

  • Enact a Windfall Profits Tax to Provide a $1,000 Emergency Energy Rebate to American Families.
  • Obama and Biden support enacting a windfall profits tax on excessive oil company profits to give American families an immediate $1,000 emergency energy rebate to help families pay rising bills. This relief would be a down payment on the Obama-Biden long-term plan to provide middle-class families with at least $1,000 per year in permanent tax relief.
  • Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation. Barack Obama and Joe Biden support closing energy industry market loopholes and increase transparency to prevent traders from unfairly lining their pockets, while driving up oil prices at the expense of the American people.
  • Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices. With oil prices doubling in the past year, Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we have an economic emergency that requires a limited, responsible swap of light oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) for heavy crude oil to help bring down prices at the pump.

« Return to New Energy for America Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years

  • Increase Fuel Economy Standards. Obama and Biden will increase fuel economy standards 4 percent per year while providing $4 billion for domestic automakers to retool their manufacturing facilities in America to produce these vehicles.
  • Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015. These vehicles can get up to 150 miles per gallon. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we should work to ensure these cars are built here in America, instead of factories overseas.
  • Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
  • Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Obama and Biden will establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to reduce the carbon in our fuels 10 percent by 2020. Obama and Biden will also require 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels to be phased into our fuel supply by 2030.
  • A “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases. Obama and Biden will require oil companies to develop the 68 million acres of land (over 40 million of which are offshore) which they have already leased and are not drilling on.