• Sen. Richard Lugar's Remarks on Energy Security at Christian Coalition Event

    March 16,2011, 07:47 AM

    by Jim Ball

    In an earlier post I told of an important event on energy independence by the Christian Coalition held yesterday on Capitol Hill. One of the keynote speakers was Sen. Richard Lugar. I've included the text of his speech as prepared in its entirety below.

    It is a great pleasure to join you today for this important discussion on energy, faith, and family. I want to thank Roberta Combs for her invitation and for her personal leadership and advocacy that solving our energy crisis is fundamental to ensuring the security, economy, and well-being of all Americans.

    Hoosiers and Americans feel the pain of our foreign oil addiction each day at the gas pump. This morning at the Phillips 66 station at the corner of Ohio and East Streets in Indianapolis, regular unleaded gas cost $3.65 per gallon. The situation for consumers could get worse if costly oil stokes inflation, driving up the cost of consumer goods and food. For many Americans, and especially for the nearly 1 in 10 Hoosiers without a job, high pump prices require difficult choices between what they can and cannot provide to their families, churches, and communities.

    Rising oil prices also threaten job growth and economic recovery. In the first three quarters of 2010, Americans sent approximately $927 million per day overseas for oil. The figure will be even higher when updated reports arrive. That steady outflow is money that cannot be reinvested in American productivity and jobs. In general, every 10 percent increase in the price of oil cuts about a quarter of one percent off global GDP. That amount may not send the world into recession, but it would be a major setback to job creation.

    One group of Americans that feels the consequences of foreign oil dependence even more than motorists is our military and civilian personnel serving overseas. They and their families have endured long deployments to the Middle East on missions that are connected to maintaining the stability of that oil producing region. But despite the strategic risks of our dependence, the United States is importing more oil now than we were prior to September 11, 2001. This is especially concerning when you consider that some of the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on oil each year are diverted to governments and groups that do not wish us well. Governments rich in oil from Iran to Venezuela are emboldened or insulated by their dominant position in oil markets. For example, we continue to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program, yet other nations are hesitant to endanger their access to Iran's oil and natural gas supplies. In many oil rich countries, revenues are used to entrench corruption and authoritarianism even as citizens live in dire poverty.

    The problem of our foreign oil dependence is especially severe now because global demand is once again surging and at the same time production from conventional oilfields is dropping faster than expected. This puts a squeeze on the amount of oil that producers could put on the market but are holding back, which is essential for preventing market volatility. Violence in Libya dramatically demonstrates that Americans are directly affected by events far beyond our borders.

    Recently, Saudi Arabia announced that it is increasing production to calm oil markets. We welcome what relief this can bring to rising prices. But Americans understand that we should not have to depend on the good will of rulers in the Middle East.

    Ending our dangerous over-reliance on oil imports necessitates greater use of domestic resources, improved efficiency, and strong international cooperation. I am working to reverse the Obama administration's de facto prohibition on new oil drilling, promote new forms of liquid fuels such as from Indiana biomass and coal, and encourage dramatic increases in vehicle fuel efficiency. I also am working to improve reliability and transparency in global markets by encouraging diversified supply routes and increased trade with reliable suppliers such as Canada. Transition will take time, but that is all the more reason to work quickly and assertively. In a world of tight oil supplies, every barrel produced or saved is important for America's security and prosperity.

    The energy plan I introduced last year would have cut foreign oil imports by 40 percent by 2030. I am revising this plan to find even more gains.

    As a legislator, it is my duty and privilege to address fundamental challenges to American society such as energy security. As a Christian, I join you in recognizing that we have a duty to be good stewards of the Earth that has been given to us. I recall working with my father Marvin and brother Tom on our 604 acre family farm in Marion County. When we were boys, Tom and I put our savings into planting wheat that was subsequently destroyed by a flood. Loss of our investment was a good business lesson. Our Dad built a higher and longer levee that prevented future floods. But it also was a profound testament that the resources provided by God's Earth cannot be taken for granted.

    When we care for the Earth, it provides in abundance. How we use and generate energy is critical to stewardship.

    Thank you for the opportunity to join with you in fellowship today, and I look forward to our conversation.

    The Rev. Jim Ball is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Christian Coalition Announces Major Initiative on Energy at Capitol Hill Gathering

    March 16,2011, 07:20 AM

    by Jim Ball

    Yesterday our colleagues and friends with the Christian Coalition of America held an important briefing on Capitol Hill for their grassroots leaders and invited guests focused on the importance of energy for families and our responsibility as stewards. Roberta Combs, President of the Christian Coalition, announced a major initiative by the group to build support for energy independence. We heartily welcome their efforts and look forward to continuing to work together to be better stewards of our energy resources.

    Here are some excerpts from a Greenwire story by Sarah Abruzzese published on the NYTimes website on yesterday's event.

    The Christian Coalition of America came to Capitol Hill today, not to proselytize or discuss issues like abortion or gay marriage, but to talk about the United States' energy policy and the need to end the country's dependence on foreign oil.

    The conservative group often comes to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues with lawmakers, but the "Capitol Hill Roundtable Discussion on Energy" marked the first time the group has focused on energy issues with members of Congress.

    The group founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson has traditionally focused on social issues but has broadened its reach in recent years to include the environment and related topics.

    Announcing the event, the coalition said in a statement, "We believe that there needs to be a conservative discussion on a national energy policy that speaks to the values of energy independence, national security, prosperity, family and stewardship. That is why we are sponsoring this discussion."

    Among the speakers was Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) -- a target of conservatives as he prepares to run for a seventh term next year. He told the assembled group of more than 50 people that "solving our energy crisis is fundamental to ensuring the security, economy and well-being of all Americans."

    Larry Schweiger, the president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, lauded the president and CEO of the Christian Coalition, Roberta Combs, for taking a stance that is unusual in the conservative community. Schweiger noted that energy independence is a "family value as well as an issue of faith." ...

    Other speakers who addressed the group were C. Boyden Gray, who was a U.S. special envoy, White House special counsel and ambassador to the European Union under Republican administrations; Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); Sen. Richard Burr (S.C.); and Rear Adm. John Nathman, the retired former commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command ...

    Gray spoke about the perils the nuclear industry is facing as well as the unrest in the Middle East that is negatively affecting gas prices.

    "The solution to it is not going to be found in 'Drill, baby, drill,'" Gray said, "because the increase in U.S. production is not going to be big enough to impact the price."

    Meanwhile, Burr promised that legislation he has crafted with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) will be introduced soon that focuses on promoting multiple forms of energy, including nuclear.

    That is not to say that the country has not been "impacted by what has happened over the weekend, the tragedies in Japan," he said -- only that it will take time to figure out exactly what happened.

    Gray said the best way is to find a solution to the energy shortage that is not linked to the price of oil and that the country must develop products that are not "held hostage" to events in the Middle East.

    He went on to say that "rising oil prices also threaten job growth and economic recovery."

    In a forthcoming blog I will post Sen. Lugar's speech in its entirety.

    The Rev. Jim Ball is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • EPA Administrator Jackson Successfully Defends Views Before House Committee

    February 10,2011, 15:01 PM
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

    by Jim Ball

    I have just finished watching the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Administrator Lisa Jackson, successfully defend the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases at a hearing of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee. I hope the Committee will post up video of Administrator Jackson's appearance and I urge anyone who can to watch some or all of it to do so. (We'll post a link if/when it becomes available.)

    I think any fair-minded individual who watched the hearing would come away grateful that a person of Administrator Jackson's gifts, abilities, and temperament was heading up the EPA. I also think that she successfully: (1) defended the need for regulations to protect human health, (2) explained that the EPA was doing what the Supreme Court said the Clean Air Act (CAA) required the EPA to do, and (3) explained that the EPA had taken economic consequences into consideration in promulgating the various GHG rules. Indeed, she successfully made the case that it would actually benefit the overall economy.

    The stated purpose of the hearing, according to the Chair of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, Rep. Whitfield (R-KY) was as follows:

    "Today's hearing will focus on a greenhouse gas (GHG) rulemaking within the Environmental Protection Agency that many of us believe attempts to address an issue properly within the purview of the Congress, and legislation that would restore the proper balance to decision-making affecting it."

    The draft legislation referred to by Chairman Whitfield is the Upton-Whitfield-Inhofe Energy Tax Prevention Act, which according to today's hearing would prevent the EPA from regulating GHGs. While EEN agrees with Congressman Whitfield that the best public policy approach would be a new law passed by Congress, we oppose any efforts to roll back the authority of the EPA to regulate global warming pollution absent such legislation. If Congress wants to pass a law that would actually have our country play its proper role in overcoming global warming, terrific. But a do-nothing stance is not acceptable. From what I heard at the hearing, the Upton-Whitfield-Inhofe bill is a do-nothing approach

    Rev. Jim Ball is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Sen Lugar Could Be A Key Leader in a Clean Energy Future

    January 27,2011, 17:23 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is one of the most respected Senators in our country, and such respect is well-deserved. He has long toiled in areas that are vital to America's well-being yet don't get much attention or appreciation, such as his great work with former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) to secure the nuclear weapons programs of the former Soviet Union once the Cold War ended. These great efforts have helped to keep America and the rest of the world safe.

    Continuing in the tradition of Senator-Statesman, Sen. Lugar gave an important speech at the Clean Economy Summit on how America can create a clean energy future and move towards energy independence. While we don't agree with everything Sen. Lugar said, there is much to appreciate in the speech.

    One of his first important points is that while America has begun to wake up to what needs to happen, we have not yet begun to act in a serious and meaningful way:

    "Although Americans and their leaders are embracing the idea of changing our energy destiny, we have not committed ourselves to the action steps required to achieve an alternative future ... If our economy is crippled by an oil embargo, if terrorists succeed in disrupting our oil lifeline, or if we slide into a war because oil wealth has emboldened anti-American regimes, it will not matter that before disaster struck, the American public and its leaders only began to gain an understanding of our vulnerability."

    As the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    After noting that both President Bush and President Obama have failed to create a bold, bi-partisan approach to weaning us off our addiction to oil (as President Bush put it) and the creation of a clean energy future, Sen Lugar states:

    "I believe it is possible to revitalize energy security as a bipartisan issue. To do this, the President and leaders in Congress should explore the most fertile ground for cooperation " overcoming U.S. oil dependence. There is little disagreement that our oil dependence is a major threat to our economy and security. A disruption of oil supplies due to war, political instability, terrorism, embargo or other causes is one of the most troubling and likely short-term threats to our economy. Rising gasoline prices give Americans a visible reminder of this on a weekly basis."

    Sen Lugar wanted to see a clear statement to this effect in President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday. While the President didn't address oil dependence explicitly, he did put forward a goal of having 80% of America's electricity come from clean sources by 2035.

    We agree with both President Obama's goal for a clean energy future and Sen. Lugar's goal of overcoming oil dependence. And when you look at the energy bill that Sen. Lugar introduced in the last Congress, his Practical Energy Plan, it has policies to do both, including one similar to the Clean Energy Standard that the President and others like Sen Lindsay Graham (R-SC) have been talking about.

    (As an aside, Sen Lugar's bill from last year was actually called the "Practical Energy and Climate Plan," but in his speech on Monday he dropped the word "Climate." In his speech he was also critical of past efforts on climate. We'll agree to disagree and let bygones be bygones.)

    Our question of Sen Lugar is this: who will bring along enough of his fellow Republicans to achieve these goals of overcoming oil dependence AND having 80% of our electricity come from clean energy sources?

    Another question to Sen Lugar: will your Practical Energy Plan introduced in this Congress once again have a Clean Energy Standard?

    We certainly hope so, and are ready to join Sen Lugar and the President to achieve both of these goals.

    Sen. Lugar has achieved great things with little fanfare in his career. We hope both he and President Obama will work together on these vital goals, and that both will help to bring along their parties to do what's best for America.

    Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Quick Numbers-Crunching of the President's Clean Energy Proposal

    January 26,2011, 09:00 AM

    by Jim Ball

    Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations has done some quick crunching of the numbers to compare President Obama's goal of 80% of electricity coming from clean energy by 2035 announced last night in his State of the Union speech.

    By Levi's calculation, this would generate more clean energy than last year's proposed legislation by Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman (74% by 2035). It would also have carbon's price per ton at around $90 in 2035, which would be a healthy price signal.

    If a Clean Energy Standard that achieved 80% by 2035 were to pass Congress this session (a very big if), it would be a major step forward in overcoming global warming and helping our country create a clean energy future. It's not all we need to be doing. But it would be very important.

    Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Obama's State of the Union Highlights Clean Energy

    January 26,2011, 06:40 AM

    by Jim Ball

    Last night President Obama gave his State of the Union speech. His basic theme was summed up in this phrase: "The future is ours to win." He went on to say, "But to get there, we can't just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, 'The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.' Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age."

    We agree.

    We were pleased to see that the first thing he said we needed to invest in as a country to win the future was clean energy. Here's an extended excerpt:

    "This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -" (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

    Already, we're seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert's words, "We reinvented ourselves."

    That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. We're not just handing out money. We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo projects of our time.

    At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. (Applause.)

    We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. (Applause.) I don't know if -- I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. (Laughter.) So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.

    Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. (Applause.)

    Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all -- and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen. (Applause.)"

    The President's call to have 80% of our electricity come from clean energy sources by 2035 was a pleasant surprise. And we think paying for the innovation to get us there by using subsidies we currently give to oil companies is exactly right.

    Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

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