I'm running for the US Senate here in New Hampshire. What follows is adapted from a statement I made at a press conference yesterday and the q&a section that followed.
If we needed confirmation that we have lost control of our energy future, we got it on Tuesday. President Bush was in Saudi Arabia trying to convince King Abdullah to help out our economy by increasing oil production. According the report I read, the response was "lukewarm." Clearly, we need to take back control of our future by ending our dependence on foreign oil. Yesterday, I presented a plan to do just that-- and it appears below. I would be interested in your comments.
As you all know, our country is facing tremendous challenges.
Today, men and women from New Hampshire are risking their lives for us in Iraq. They are fighting to protect America's interests in the Mideast, and to protect our access to foreign oil.
Today, our nation's economy is being hard hit by oil prices, which have more than doubled since 2003, but our fight for energy independence is woefully under-funded.
Today, we are all living in a world where the polar ice caps are melting.
We need leadership in Washington that will address these challenges. I am running for the Senate because I believe we must protect America by going on the offensive and taking positive action to protect our nation's security -- and our future.
I'm writing today because I am proposing that one of our first actions be to start a National Security Levy on oil. The National Security Levy will be phased in slowly and will include a price floor to keep oil prices stable.
First and foremost, the National Security Levy is designed to make America stronger and the economy less vulnerable to disruptions in foreign energy supplies.
Right now, every time we fill up our cars, we're sending money to foreign countries -- where roughly 60 percent of the more than 20 million barrels of oil we use everyday is produced. It's like they're taxing us, for their benefit.
Some of those countries, like Canada, are close allies, but others aren't. And whenever we put a gallon of gas in our cars, we're using our hard-earned dollars to help fund foreign oil producers in the Mideast, in Russia, and elsewhere.
Moreover, OPEC and other oil-producing countries have been able to lower and raise oil prices like puppeteers pulling the strings. Alternative energy companies have often failed when oil prices were low; American consumers - especially lower-income citizens - have been stretched almost to the breaking point when prices spike.
It's time to put a stop to this.
The National Security Levy will move us toward energy independence and secure the future of our country for our children.
Here's how it will work: the National Security Levy will be a fee on all oil consumption in the United States - combined with a price floor that guarantees oil will not sink below a certain price.
The National Security Levy will be phased in slowly so that consumers will not face a sudden price shock.
The National Security Levy will be variable and it will depend upon the world price of oil.
If the world price of oil falls, the National Security Levy will be increased, so that the price in the US remains above a certain established floor. This means that alternative energy producers won't be wiped out by temporary declines in world oil prices, as happened in the 1980s; they'll know that the price of oil in the US would not be allowed to fall below the floor price.
If, however, the price of world oil spikes dramatically, then the National Security Levy would be suspended during the spike.
As this National Security Levy takes effect, it will generate revenue. I propose that this money be used in two ways.
• Part should be given as a rebate to working families to compensate for the increased energy costs.
• The rest should be used to help finance an Apollo Program for Energy that will move the United States rapidly into the lead in alternative energy technology and stimulate the economy.
The National Security Levy will allow us to make essential investments in energy technology. We'll be able to invest larger amounts when the U.S. economy is benefiting from low oil prices; and smaller amounts when oil prices are high. With this vitally important funding, we'll be able to develop the technology we need to get off of foreign oil - and on to renewable alternatives.
We know we need to end our addiction to oil. It's a national security issue, an economic issue, and an environmental issue.
It's a national security issue because -- for more than twenty years-- our policy has been that access to Persian Gulf oil is a vital national security interest of the United States and must be defended. This is the biggest subsidy we provide for oil and gas use, and this cost is not just in dollars. We can't truly disengage from the Persian Gulf until we change this policy. We should be saying that: moving to renewable alternatives is a vital security interest of the United States.
It's an economic issue because in the future do we want to be importing solar power systems and wind machines and other technology from overseas or making them here? The solar cell was invented here in the United States, but now Japan and Germany lead in using this technology. We can't continue this trend of outsourcing technological development. We have a great tradition of Yankee ingenuity here - let's use it.
Lastly, it's an environmental issue because we are experimenting with the Earth's climate and --- as research about our shrinking icecaps tells us -- the outcome of this experiment could be tragic. We need to change what we are doing.
But you might ask, if a National Security Levy on oil is such a great idea, why isn't it already in place? Well, the basic idea isn't new, but according to conventional wisdom a serious proposal like this is politically unacceptable.
I believe that for too long the politicians in Washington have underestimated the will and determination of the American people. I believe that Americans are ready to change, ready to make a commitment to our future, and ready to work to make that future a reality.
And I believe that what is truly unacceptable is to have American servicemen and women risking their lives overseas -- in part to protect our access to oil -- and yet not do everything we can here in New Hampshire and across the country to end our dependence on foreign oil. We need to take positive action to protect our nation's security and our future.
Over the coming months, I will travel throughout the state asking NH citizens to join me in making the National Security Levy a priority for America--because today we have a clear choice to make. We can either devote ever-increasing resources to defending our access to oil overseas as our dependency on foreign sources increases -- and deal with the effects of global warming as we burn this oil.
Or we can use our technical and scientific skills to make the transition to renewable alternatives - and fund this vital transition with a new National Security Levy.
Rather than sending billions of dollars overseas to buy energy, we could buy that energy here in the United States in our new Energy Economy.
But we can't go slowly. Every delay just increases our vulnerability and the price we will have to pay in the future.
It is time for us to move on: the days of easy oil are over, but the days of American leadership in alternative energy are just beginning.
I would be interested to hear your comments.