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Senate Proceeding on May 18th, 2011 :: 0:56:55 to 1:08:40
Total video length: 8 hours 32 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

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Lamar Alexander

0:56:41 to 0:57:01( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: be four hours of debate equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. madam president, we've been debating tax subsidies to the five big oil companies. we've eliminated -- we've limited it to just the five big oil companies even though many

Lamar Alexander

0:56:55 to 1:08:40( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

0:57:02 to 0:57:22( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: of the tax breaks or tax credits or deductions they receive are the same tax credits that every other big company receives: starbucks, microsoft, caterpillar, google, hollywood film producers and many other, many of the other credits look a lot like the r&d tax credit or

Lamar Alexander

0:57:23 to 0:57:43( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: other tax credits that all american businesses receive. well, i'm one senator who is very intrigued with the idea of looking at all of the tax breaks in the tax code. there are about $1.2 trillion a year that we spend on, we call them tax expenditures, and we spend them on tax breaks we

Lamar Alexander

0:57:44 to 0:58:05( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: think are desirable. i'm ready to look at all of them and use the money to reduce the tax rate and/or reduce the federal debt. but if we're going to talk about energy subsidies, tax subsidies, we ought to talk about all energy subsidies.

Lamar Alexander

0:58:06 to 0:58:28( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: senator john cornyn of texas has asked the congressional research service to do just this. it's an excellent study, and i commend senator cornyn for -- for asking for it. this is some of what it finds. according to the report, fossil fuels contribute about 78% of our energy production in 2009

Lamar Alexander

0:58:29 to 0:58:49( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: and receive about 13% of the federal tax support for energy. however, during that same time, 10.6% of our energy production was from renewables and 77.7% of our energy tax subsidies went to renewables. so if we are to compare the

Lamar Alexander

0:58:50 to 0:59:12( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: substantive unit per energy, estimated federal support per million b.t.u. of fossil fuels was four cents, while support for renewable was $1.97 per million b.t.u. so federal subsidies for renewables were almost 50 times as great per unit of energy as

Lamar Alexander

0:59:13 to 0:59:33( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: federal subsidies for fossil fuels. and this would be the story because included within renewables is hydroelectric power. most people think of renewables as ethanol or solar or wind. so at least 50 times as great per unit of energy is the

Lamar Alexander

0:59:34 to 0:59:55( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: federal taxpayer support for renewable energy compared with fossil fuel energy. so why aren't we including in our debate subsidies for all renewables? specifically, if we're talking about big oil, why don't we talk about big wind? the senate seems an appropriate place to talk about big wind.

Lamar Alexander

0:59:56 to 1:00:17( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: the energy policy act of 1992 created what's called the production tax credit for energy produced using renewable resources. most of this money has gone to subsidize big wind. it's a policy that was supposed to last a few years. it's lasted two decades. today, the production tax credit

Lamar Alexander

1:00:18 to 1:00:39( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: for wind gives 2.1 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind electricity produced by a wind turbine during the first ten years of operation. let's put this into a context that's current. the new shepards wind flat farm in oregon will have 338 of these wind turbines, produce enough power to run approximately 250,000 homes and will cost the

Lamar Alexander

1:00:40 to 1:01:00( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: american taxpayer about about $57 million a year in subsidies for that electricity produced. if we allocated the tax credit per home, taxpayers will be paying $2,300 over the next ten years for each of the homes served by the flat -- shepards

Lamar Alexander

1:01:01 to 1:01:21( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: flat wind farm in oregon. this doesn't even take into account the fact that that $1.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to this project means that big wind will have its risk of default also financed by the taxpayer. fossil fuel companies don't have that advantage. nuclear power companies don't have that advantage, even though

Lamar Alexander

1:01:22 to 1:01:42( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: their electricity is completely clean. no -- no sulfur, no knit row general, no mercury, no carbon. if the wind farm in oregon had to pay the risk of default up front as a fee, it would cost another $130 million. that's money out of the pockets of taxpayers. the total cost of the wind

Lamar Alexander

1:01:43 to 1:02:03( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: production tax credit over the next ten years will cost the american taxpayers more than than $26 billion. let me say that again. american taxpayers are subsidizing big wind over the next ten years by more than than $26 billion.

Lamar Alexander

1:02:04 to 1:02:24( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: in fact, the tax breaks for the five big oil companies that we have been debating on the floor this week actually cost less than all of the money that we give to big wind. the tax breaks for the big oil companies amount to about about $21 billion over ten years. according to the energy

Lamar Alexander

1:02:25 to 1:02:45( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: information administration in 2007, big wind receives an an $18.82 subsidy per megawatt hour, 25 times as much per megawatt hour as subsidies for all other forms of electricity combined. but wind is about the least efficient means of energy production we have. it accounts for just about 2% of our electricity.

Lamar Alexander

1:02:46 to 1:03:08( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: it's available only when the wind blows, which is about a third of the time. tennessee valley authority says it is reliable, even less than that, meaning you can have it when you need it. wind farms take up a huge amount of space. turbines are 50 stories high. their flashing lights can be seen for 20 miles. an unbroken line of turbines

Lamar Alexander

1:03:09 to 1:03:29( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: along the 21-mile appalachian highway would produce no more electricity than four nuclear reactors on four square miles of land. wind is generally strongest and land is available where the electricity isn't needed, so we have thousands of miles of new transmission lines proposed to get the energy from where it's produced to where it needs to go. those often go through conservation areas.

Lamar Alexander

1:03:30 to 1:03:51( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: according to the national academy of sciences, wind power is more expensive than other forms of electricity such as coal, nuclear, biomass, geothermal, natural gas. we haven't even talked about the fact that these farms only last about 20 years. the question is who is going to take them down. wind farms kill a lot of birds

Lamar Alexander

1:03:52 to 1:04:12( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: according to the american bird conservancy. they can interfere with radar systems. many of them who live near them say they are very noisy. i ask the question, if wind has all these drawbacks, is it mature technology and receives subsidies greater than any other form of energy per unit of actual energy produced, why are we subsidizing it with billions of dollars and not including it

Lamar Alexander

1:04:13 to 1:04:33( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: in this debate? why are we talking about big oil and not talking about big wind? i believe there are appropriate uses of temporary incentives and subsidies to help jump-start innovation and the development of new technology such as jump-starting electric cars or natural gas fleets of trucks or

Lamar Alexander

1:04:34 to 1:04:56( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: loan guarantees for nuclear power plants. as long as these are short term. i believe research and development is an appropriate role for the federal government, whether it's in recycling used nuclear fuel or finding alternative bowel fuels making crops we don't eat. i believe it's entirely appropriate for there to be research for offshore wind farms, which we don't know as

Lamar Alexander

1:04:57 to 1:05:18( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: much about and which might actually prove to be a useful supplement in the northeast. but my point is if we're going to debate subsidies to big oil, we ought to be debating all the energy subsidies, including those who big wind. there's a difference between the republican and the democratic plan for $4 gasoline and high energy prices. the democratic plan basically

Lamar Alexander

1:05:19 to 1:05:40( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: wants -- their cure for high prices is to raise the prices. they want to tax energy more. that makes energy cost more. republicans want to find more american energy and use less american energy. you might sum it up this way. republicans want to find more and use less. democrats want to find less and

Lamar Alexander

1:05:41 to 1:06:01( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: tax more. the democratic plan, according to senator schumer of new york, was never intended to talk about lowering gas prices. senator reid agreed, senator baucus agreed, senator landrieu agreed, senator begich agreed. why aren't we talking about trying to find a way to lower gasoline prices when they are $4 a gallon and going up?

Lamar Alexander

1:06:02 to 1:06:22( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: the republican plan is very specific. find more american oil and more american natural gas, you find that offshore where 30% of our oil and 25% of our natural gas is produced. you find it on federal lands and you find it in alaska. and then the other part of our equation is use less.

Lamar Alexander

1:06:23 to 1:06:43( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: we have some agreement with the obama administration on some of these ideas. there are a number of them. jump-start electric cars. senator merkley and i have a bill that is before the energy committee tomorrow to do that. i believe electrifying our cars and trucks is the single best way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. there is legislation to

Lamar Alexander

1:06:44 to 1:07:04( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: jump-start natural gas for trucks, biofuels from crops we don't eat, fuel efficiency. all of these are various ways to use less. senator thune and senator barrasso performed a service by setting straight the record to show that the united states produces a lot of oil. we're actually the third largest oil producer in the world.

Lamar Alexander

1:07:05 to 1:07:25( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: so i ask this question. if less libyan oil helps raise gasoline prices -- which it did -- then more american oil should help lower gasoline prices. at least for every dollar of american oil we drill is one less dollar that we send overseas. so, madam president, the

Lamar Alexander

1:07:26 to 1:07:46( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: republican plan is to find more american oil and natural gas and to use less. and my suggestion is if we're going to be talking about tax subsidies for big oil, let's talk about tax subsidies for all energy. the senate floor seems an especially appropriate place if we're going to talk about big

Lamar Alexander

1:07:47 to 1:08:05( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: oil also to talk about tax subsidies for big wind. i thank the yield the floor. and notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.

Lamar Alexander

1:08:15 to 1:08:35( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: quorum call: a senator: madam president? the presficer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum. i see the senator from kansas. i ask unanimous consent to include in the record following my remarks the report from the congressional research service to senator john cornyn of texas,

Lamar Alexander

1:08:36 to 1:08:41( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: dated may 16, referred in my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection.

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