Rhetoric Meets Reality: Senators Have Chance to Pair past Positions with Action

Today, Allied Progress expanded its campaign opposing the repeal or weakening of the crude oil export ban to include lawmakers in five additional states: Colorado, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, and New Mexico.

#KeepTheBanFor 40 years, the crude oil export ban has mostly forbidden big oil companies from shipping American crude oil to other countries. The policy has protected American consumers, kept good-paying refinery jobs here in the United States, and set America on a path toward energy independence.

Big oil, however, is hard at work encouraging Congress to repeal the ban. Such a move would pad the bottom line of oil companies while also strengthening the economies of foreign countries like China. Unfortunately, the American people would not fare as well by such a change in policy. Experts estimate lifting the ban could raise gas prices by as much as 14.5 cents per gallon, cost thousands of American jobs, and hold our national security and energy independence hostage to foreign oil suppliers in the Middle East.

The Senators examined below have taken a variety of public positions on issues closely tied to the ban, from American energy independence to gas and heating oil prices. This document details some of those positions providing these legislators with an opportunity to match their rhetoric with reality by opposing any effort to repeal or weaken the crude oil export ban.

ACHIEVING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

Colorado’s Senators Have Been Advocates for American Energy Independence:

  • Sen. Bennet said he thinks “it makes absolutely no sense for this country to have an energy policy that requires us to send billions of dollars a week to the Persian Gulf to buy oil, and that is the energy policy of the United States right now.” In 2011 he said, “we ought to break our addiction to foreign oil, especially oil that we…[import] from the Persian Gulf.” He continued, “I believe we need to move beyond rhetoric on this question and start to think about solutions to this problem.” (La Junta Tribune-Democrat, 03/31/11; Bennet Senate Office YouTube Channel, Accessed 08/25/15)
  • Sen. Gardner also remarked that “the United States is entering a new phase of energy history, and the nation is at the cusp of energy independence as we continue to produce our own secure supply of energy.” (Gardner Senate Office Website, Accessed 08/25/15)

Maine’s Senators Deeply Concerned About American (and Maine) Energy Independence

  • Sen. Collins, based on public statements, also appears to be concerned about energy independence. In 2005 she said, “I think we should set a goal of energy independence for our country, and we should [move ourselves away] from our dangerous dependence on Middle East oil.” In 2008 she said in a television ad, “we need to increase energy exploration to end dependence on Middle East Oil.” (Collins Campaign Ad, 2008; and The Bowdoin Orient, 12/09/05)
  • Sen. King wants to reduce Maine’s reliance on oil. He said, “this is the big picture: 80% of Maine’s energy comes from oil and none of Maine’s oil comes from Maine. It’s 100% imported. Natural gas: 100% imported. We are extraordinarily dependent on a resource over which we have no control, either in terms of supply or price.” He also said, “for every $1 increase in gasoline and home heating oil…almost $1 billion evaporates from the Maine economy – it’s as if our income tax were doubled, but we got nothing for it.” He concluded, “we need to use less energy and get it from sources other than oil.” (Portland Press Herald, 06/05/11, and Green Energy Maine YouTube Channel, Accessed 08/25/15)

Montana’s Senators Worried About American Reliance on Foreign Oil

  • Sen. Tester, according to a 2006 campaign ad, thinks, “it’s wrong now for America to have to rely on foreign oil.” He has been an advocate for lower gas prices and energy independence. (Great Falls Tribune, 02/20/13; Tester Campaign Ad, 2012; YouTube, Accessed 08/25/15; and Jon Tester, Press Release, 06/10/08)
  • Sen. Daines claims to be concerned about energy independence and energy prices. “I support an all-of-the-above approach to securing American energy independence,” he said. “‘We need policies today that ensure that we have stable and lower energy prices in the future,’” and “‘we must never forget the dependency we still have on imported oil,’ Daines said. ‘We’re just 10 years away from energy independence.’” (Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 07/04/13, and Daines Senate Office Website, Accessed 08/25/15)

New Hampshire’s Senators Don’t Want the U.S. Dependent on Others for Oil

  • Sen. Ayotte says she “believes America’s existing energy policy is severely flawed and must be replaced with a forward-looking plan that reduces our dependence on foreign energy sources.” (Ayotte Senate Office Website, Accessed 08/25/15)

New Mexico’s Senators Support Drive for American Energy Independence

  • Sen. Udall has said he supports energy independence, energy security, and keeping gas prices down. (Amarillo Globe-News, 11/09/99, and The Santa Fe New Mexican, 03/04/06)
  • Sen. Heinrich has made speeches about increasing America’s energy independence. (Heinrich Senate Office YouTube Channel, Accessed 08/25/15, Clip 1, Clip 2)

INCREASED GAS PRICES

Colorado Gas Prices Are Much Higher Than National Average – Senator Gardner In Particular, Has Expressed Concern With the Price of Gas

  • On August 15, 2015, it was reported, “Colorado gas prices are now 12 cents more a gallon than the national average, rising 4 cents in the past week, according to AAA.” (Greely Tribune, 08/15/15)

Senator Collins Once Supported Legislation Requiring Super-Majority To Enact Laws that Could Increase Gas Prices

  • Sen. Collins appears to be concerned about gas prices. On June 20, 2007, she voted for an amendment to H.R. 6, which would “require 60 votes for passage of any legislation that would raise gas prices.” On March 13, 2008, she voted for an amendment to S.Con.Res. 70, which would “create a point of order against bills that would raise gasoline prices,” thereby making it more difficult to pass such bills. (Senate Vote 217, 2007, Senate Vote 72, 2008, Congressional Quarterly Today, 06/20/07, and Environment and Energy Daily, 03/14/08)

INCREASED COST OF HEATING OIL

Mainers Are Deeply Impacted by the Cost of Heating Oil – Sen. Collins Underscores Her Work to Make Heating Oil Affordable

  • “Maine is the most petroleum dependent state for home heating, spending more on residential petroleum per capita than any state in the United States. Maine also has the largest percent of its population heating with heating oil than any other state. This combination leaves the state vulnerable to volatile prices, a problem that worsens as the temperatures drop.” (Governor’s Energy Office, Access 08/25/15)
  • According to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, “which distributes food to pantries and soup kitchens across the state,” many Maine families “find themselves having to choose – do I pay for heating oil this month or do I buy food.” The food bank cited a survey that showed that “56 percent of clients who use Good Shepherd’s network of food pantries reported having to choose between paying for heat and paying for food.” (Kennebec Journal, 01/24/14)
  • Sen. Collins underscores her commitment to affordable heating oil for low income Mainers on the issues section of her website, claiming she is “one of the strongest supporters of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the Senate” where she “has worked to secure federal funding for this critical safety net program.” The website goes on to note, “Maine has some of the oldest housing stock in the country, and more than 80 percent of the homes in our state use home heating oil. As a result of rising prices, we have seen how dangerous it is for senior citizens and low-income families when LIHEAP is not sufficiently funded. Senator Collins will continue working to help ensure sufficient LIHEAP funding is available.” (Collins Senate Office Website, Accessed 08/31/15)

New Hampshire is Among the Most Dependent States on Heating Oil – Senators Shaheen and Ayotte Are Understandably Concerned with the Price of Heating Oil

  • “Because of its old housing stock, New Hampshire is more dependent on oil heat than any state except Maine and Vermont, according to the Energy Information Administration, with 58 percent of homes using it,” and “the price of residential heating oil and propane [there] has more than doubled since 2000.” (The New York Times, 01/08/08, and Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, 01/12/15)
  • Senators Shaheen and Ayotte appear to be quite concerned about the cost of heating for the people of New Hampshire. In a joint press release they called for the immediate release of federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to reduce the cost of home heating oil and natural gas for New Hampshire residents in 2014. (Ayotte/Shaheen, Joint Press Release, 01/24/14)

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