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U.S. Senate for Oregon: Jeff Merkley Calls For Dramatic Shift in Energy Policy

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Energy policy is critical to America's future. Energy is the key to our policies for national security, the economy and our environment. But right now we are a long way from getting it right.

Three recent events--the passage of a watered down energy bill, the Environmental Protection Agency's ruling against state regulation of tailpipe emissions, and failed US leadership at the UN climate conference in Bali - show how far we have to go.

The stakes are high and there is much to be done. Driving changes in our energy policy is one of the major reasons that I'm running for the U.S. Senate in Oregon. We must have leaders who will fight to bring America's energy policy into the 21st century.

Our dependence on foreign oil is a serious threat to our national security. We have formulated our foreign policy and military strategies around access to oil. But the cost of this approach is substantial. It distorts every other foreign policy objective. And the expense of military infrastructure and engagements to support access to oil are a substantial burden on our national budget.

Buying foreign oil is a massive drain of our economic resources. Spending a billion dollars a day on foreign oil adds significantly to our trade deficit, undermining the strength of the dollar. Think about the living-wage jobs that would be created from spending a billion dollars a day on domestically-generated alternative energy and bio-fuels!

Our energy policy is contributing to environmental calamity. Most of our energy policy has been dedicated to continuing to burn fossil fuels. We must shift our effort to discontinuing the burning of fossil fuels for one simple reason - the carbon loading of the atmosphere is threatening our planet. Unless we move away from carbon in the next decade, it will be much more difficult to slow and reverse global warming. We can't wait any longer.

As Oregon House Speaker, I helped my state develop one of the most progressive energy strategies in the nation. And energy policy is a central theme in my U.S. Senate campaign in Oregon.

As U.S. Senator, the first part of my climate change plan is to make historic investments in renewable energy, which includes setting a 25% renewable energy national standard by 2025. We'll get there by investing in clean energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-fuels. We'll pay for it by closing tax loopholes for big oil companies. I also strongly support increasing the fuel economy standards for cars driven in the U.S. to 35 miles per gallon.

The second part of my plan
involves a reduction in carbon emissions. This begins with my full support of the Boxer-Sanders Bill S.309 which calls for an 80% reduction in climate change causing pollutants by 2050. In addition, I will work with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to pass the "Reducing Demand through Electricity Grid Intelligence Act." This bill will encourage the development of a nationwide intelligent energy grid system through the broader use of new technologies. It will also improve energy efficiency and save customers money on their electricity bills.

Part three of my plan offers incentives to cities for the reduction of climate change emissions. Taking a cue from the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection agreement, I will push for policies and programs that meet or beat reducing global warming pollution levels to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. I will also work for clear timetables and emissions limits and flexible, market-based systems of tradable allowances among emitting industries. This part of my plan also includes incentives for cities to encourage tree planting for increased shading and to absorb CO2.

Finally, part four calls for significant investment in research for conservation, alternative energy and carbon capture/storage. My plan outlines an increase in efficiency for cooling, heating and lighting appliances by 25 percent. We must also have an investment in carbon capture storage systems which capture CO2 and store it in the ground at coal- and natural-gas-fired plants. We also need to increase solar power by 700 times current capacity, and wind power by 50 times current capacity. Investments in bio-fuel research (with an emphasis on cellulosic ethanol and crops that have a complete bio-fuel support cycle) is also a necessity.

Envision with me: 15 years from now the United States is free from dependence on foreign oil. Our national security decisions are no longer driven by our need for fossil fuels. Our economy thrives with new jobs created through the use of innovative and renewable energy sources. And our planet begins to reverse the slide to global climate change.

If you're ready for leadership that will end dependence on foreign oil, strengthen our economy by investing in bio-fuels and alternative energy, and tackle global climate change, I'd love to have you join my campaign. Get involved today by visiting JeffMerkley.com.