Jeff Merkley on Energy & Oil
Democratic Jr Senator (OR)
A: Yes. I support such caps. Although such caps are only one of numerous initiatives that we must launch related to global climate change. Tackling global climate change is a major theme in my campaign for the US Senate.
Q: Do you support U.S. participation in binding international climate agreements?
A: Yes. Global climate change is a huge issue. If the world continues on its current path of increased carbon loading of the atmosphere, the temperature of the planet could go up 5-9 degrees in just the next 50 years, with catastrophic consequences. Moving off of this path will require an unprecedented level of international collaboration and commitment.
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 required)
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R, SC): The climate change proposal that was in the President's budget would create a massive tax increase on anybody who uses energy, and that would be every American middle-class family, which already has a tough time getting by. This [amendment creates a procedure to block] any bill that would raise the cost of energy on our middle-class families who are struggling to get by. I ask the Senate to rally around this concept. We can deal with climate change without passing a $3,000-per-household energy tax on the families of America who are having a hard time paying their bills.
Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.
Sec. 202 is amended by inserting at the end the following: "The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget shall not revise the allocations in this resolution if the legislation is reported from any committee pursuant to sec. 310 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974."
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R, SC): This idea to most people of a debate about reconciliation probably is mind-numbing and not very interesting. But there is a process in the Congress where you can take legislation and basically put it on a fast track. It is subject to 50 votes.
The whole idea of the Senate kind of cooling things down has served the country well. In that regard, to end debate you need 60 votes. If 41 Senators are opposed to a piece of legislation, strongly enough to come to the floor every day and talk about it, that legislation doesn't go anywhere. If you took climate change and health care, two very controversial, big-ticket items, and put them on the reconciliation track, you would basically be doing a lot of damage to the role of the Senate in a constitutional democracy.
Senator Byrd, who is one of the smartest people to ever serve in the Senate about rules and parliamentary aspects of the Senate, said that to put climate change and health care reform in reconciliation is like "a freight train through Congress" and is "an outrage that must be resisted." Senator Conrad said: "I don't believe reconciliation was ever intended for this purpose."
I think both of them are right. Under the law, you cannot put Social Security into reconciliation because we know how controversial and difficult that is. I come here in support of the Johanns amendment that rejects that idea.
Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.
Security in Energy and Manufacturing Act of 2011 or the SEAM Act of 2011 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to expand the qualifying advanced energy project credit by allocating in 2011 $5 billion of grants or tax credit amounts to manufacturers of goods and components (other than for assembly of components) in the US that are used in alternative energy projects.
[Explanatory note from americanprogress.org]:
The SEAM Act provides financial assistance to US manufacturing companies that want to retool their factories for the clean energy economy. By promoting growth of the manufacturing sector, this legislation has the potential to create badly needed jobs that can put Americans back to work.
The SEAM Act goes a step beyond just providing more funding. It amends the existing terms of the funding to increase its effectiveness. The new Manufacturing Tax Credit would prioritize funding for companies that provide supplies over those that assemble goods. Drawing this distinction helps target support for companies that need it most. There's another benefit to supporting supply companies over assembly companies. Both types of companies promote economic development, but workers in the supply chain, such as tool and die workers, welders, and machinists, are generally paid more than workers in the assembly chain.
In addition to being an effective tool for economic recovery, the SEAM Act provides an example of a well-designed tax expenditure. More than 60% of federal support for the energy industry is now delivered via "tax expenditures"--government spending programs that deliver subsidies through the tax code via special tax credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and preferential rates--and a recent hearing in Congress indicates that this trend is likely to continue. Problem is, many of these tax expenditures are questionable at best.
Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should establish a national goal of more than 50 percent clean and carbon free electricity by 2030 for the purposes of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, growing our economy, increasing our shared prosperity, improving public health, and preserving our national security.
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