Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Text of Sen. Coleman's e-mail on ANWR drilling

Posted by Craig Westover | 1:00 AM |  

The following memo was sent to a Minnesota constituent of Sen. Coleman in response to a question about drilling for oil in the Alaska national Wildlife Refuge. My comments are here.

"Thank you for contacting me concerning oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

"You should know I supported an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Resolution which prevented consideration of oil exploration in ANWR as part of the budget process.

"Yet, while I supported this amendment, I believe the ANWR debate is a detour from the road we ought to be traveling if we want to maximize environmental protection, energy independence, and economic development dividends. I strongly believe the road leading to these dividends is renewable energy, including ethanol, biodiesel, wind, and even livestock waste.

"Bipartisan legislation that I have cosponsored with Senator Daschle, would require an increasing portion of our U.S. energy supply to be met by renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel. I have also been working to make sure that my legislation is included in the energy bill. One study suggests that our legislation would displace more than 1.6 billion barrels of oil at a crucial time when foreign oil imports account for 56 percent of domestic oil consumption – a figure expected to climb to a staggering 70 percent in the future unless things change. The same study indicates that our legislation would also reduce the nation’s trade deficit by more than $34 billion, increase our gross domestic product by $156 billion, create more than 214,000 new jobs, expand household income by an additional $51.7 billion, and increase net farm income by $6 billion annually. With fourteen ethanol plants already having more than a half billion dollars in positive economic impact on Minnesota, imagine the impact on our State alone under this legislation.

"In short, renewable fuels offer a lot of promise – a promise I want to help become a reality. I understand that those who support oil exploration in ANWR see it as an opportunity for economic development and energy independence, while those who oppose oil exploration in ANWR see it as important to environmental protection. Yet, while I support the important objectives of both sides, I happen to see renewable fuels and renewable energy as the optimal and most relevant way to advance all three.

"In any event, you should know that the energy bill ultimately agreed to last fall by a House-Senate conference committee does not include ANWR drilling and doubles the nation’s use of renewable fuels. On November 18, 2003 the House of Representatives approved the energy bill conference report with a bipartisan vote of 246-180. Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, the Senate has not been able to shut off debate and have an up or down vote on the bill.

"After months of debate, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced a new version of the energy bill (S. 2095) on February 12. You should know that this version of the energy bill does not include ANWR drilling. I am pleased that S. 2095 retains important provisions that would encourage the use of renewable fuels and that it maintains a loan guarantee for clean coal technology in Minnesota. In addition, I am pleased that S. 2095 would not provide product liability protection to producers of fuel oxygenates such as methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) have indicated that the energy bill is a top priority for 2004 and expect to consider this legislation soon. Please know that I will continue to work for passage of a comprehensive energy bill.

"Thank you once again for taking the time to contact me. I value your input very much. If I can be of further assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me."