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RI Senator Reed on evergy policies and cap and trade

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posted on Aug, 2 2009 @ 11:18 AM
I recently wrote to U.S Senator Jack Reed D-RI about energy policies and cap and trade. It took about a week and at that point i didn't expect anythig to come of it, like usual. But I did get a letter back. Heres what he wrote if anyone is interested in reading it. It didn't much answer my questions but it did give me some other things to search about.

Knowing of your interest in our nation’s energy policy, I write to provide you with an update on this vitally important issue.

Americans are paying a high price because of our dependence on oil. Price spikes and volatility have weighed down the national economy and hit consumers in Rhode Island especially hard. This situation is all the more distressing in light of the current economic downturn and the enormous record profits of the oil companies over the last eight years. There are steps that we should take in the short-term to gain better control of energy prices and help low-income consumers, but we must also fundamentally reshape our national energy policy by increasing the efficiency of our energy consumption and the creation and deployment of alternative and renewable sources of energy.

In the short-term, we should require greater disclosure and oversight of speculative energy trading activity. Some experts have said that such “speculation” was responsible for over 25 percent of the record high oil prices reached in the summer of 2008. With that factor in mind, during the 110th Congress I cosponsored two bills to help address these problems (S. 3268, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act, and S. 3044, the Consumer-First Energy Act). Unfortunately, both were filibustered. However, I am pleased that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), under the leadership of the new Administration, is now examining different methods for reducing harmful speculation by hedge funds and other traders in markets for oil, natural gas, and other energy products.

We must also do more to increase our nation’s energy independence over the long term, a goal that the 111th Congress has already made significant strides to achieve. For instance, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), which was signed into law on February 17, 2009, included approximately $67 billion to increase our energy efficiency and develop new sources of clean, green, domestic energy. Among many other investments, this law included: a three year extension of the renewable energy production tax credit; $4.5 billion to modernize our electricity grid and deploy “Smart Grid” technology; $2.5 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; and $2 billion in grants for the development of advanced battery manufacturing. It also designated over $58 million in funding for Rhode Island’s state-administered energy programs, including $20 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program, (WAP) $23.9 million for the State Energy Program, and $14.5 million for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. In addition to creating thousands of new jobs, these investments will create a better foundation for our nation’s energy policy for years to come. Indeed, this funding has already jump started our nation’s green energy economy, which had been idling for far too long.

You also may be interested to learn that I voted for passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 1105), which was signed into law on March 11, 2009. This law built on the progress made by H.R. 1, providing $1.93 billion to the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $200 million for the weatherization assistance program, $273 million for the vehicle technology improvements program, $175 million to the DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program, and $44 million for geothermal energy research and development. This law also contains funding that I secured for renewable energy projects in Rhode Island including: $1.4 million for the University of Rhode Island’s research on the genetic improvement of switchgrass to increase its utility as a biofuel; and more than $650,000 for the Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Council’s (CRMC) Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) to ensure state and federal consistency when siting wind turbines in waters off the Rhode Island coast.

Additionally, during the 110th Congress, I voted for the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). Among other significant provisions, this law requires all cars and light trucks to get 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020 and it increases investment into the research and development of advanced biofuels (those that are not derived from corn starch). I am pleased that the Obama Administration, working in concert with the automakers in Detroit, announced newer, even more aggressive standards for model years 2012-2016, which will ultimately require an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016. It is projected that by the year 2020, the 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency required by EISA and the President’s standards could save over 2 million barrels of oil every day -- nearly the entire amount of oil that we import from the Persian Gulf.

I also recognize the disproportionate effect of high energy costs on our nation’s low-income households. As such, as the co-chair of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition, I spearhead a national effort annually to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help provide a crucial safety net for our nation’s low-income households. You may be interested to learn that H.R. 2638, the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on September 30, 2008, provides the full $5.1 billion we requested for LIHEAP in FY09. Of this amount, $38 million is going to struggling Rhode Islanders to help heat their homes through the cold winter months.

Lastly, I lead a yearly effort to increase funding for energy efficiency programs that help low-income families weatherize their homes; assist states to improve their energy efficiency; and work with industries to develop and use more efficient technologies so that manufacturers can increase productivity and competitiveness while reducing environmental impacts. Since its inception, WAP has helped more than 87,000 Rhode Islanders insulate their homes, saving them over 101 million gallons of heating oil. On average, weatherization reduces heating bills by 32% and overall energy bills by about $350 per year at current prices.

Like you, I understand the hardship for Rhode Islanders caused by high gas and home energy prices, particularly during these difficult economic times. Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to fight for a better and more comprehensive energy policy.

Again, thank you for contacting me, and do not hesitate to write, call, or visit my website,, in the future for information regarding this or any other matter.


Jack Reed
United States Senator

[edit on 2-8-2009 by PjZ101]

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