OPINION: Ending Addiction to Oil Will Strengthen National Security, Reduce Energy Costs

By House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer

Last October, an independent task force of the Council on Foreign Relations - which included John Deutsch, the former Director of Central Intelligence, and James Schleisinger, the former Secretary of the Departments of Defense and Energy - warned: 'The lack of sustained attention to energy issues is undercutting U.S. foreign policy and U.S. national security.'

Indeed, in his State of the Union Address in 2006, President Bush acknowledged: 'America is addicted to oil.'

However, simply recognizing our addiction - and its nexus to our national security and future prosperity - is insufficient. We must take bold action to break that addiction.

Thus today, this new Democratic majority demonstrates its commitment to moving our nation toward energy independence with this comprehensive package of proposals.

Specifically, we will reduce our dependence on foreign oil - and thereby strengthen our national security - by making the largest investment in homegrown biofuels in history.

For example, we will:

* Provide grants and tax incentives to boost the number of e-85 ethanol pumps;

* Assist our farmers in purchasing renewable energy systems,

* Provide long-term incentives for companies to invest in renewable energy, and ramp up our research efforts.

And, to pay for our energy incentives, we will repeal $16 billion in taxpayer subsidies for oil companies and gas companies.

Furthermore, our proposals seek to reduce energy costs for consumers by promoting greater efficiency and smarter technology.

Our package includes new efficiency standards for appliances - which, when implemented, will remove 8.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2030.

We will encourage the development and production of advanced technology vehicles, and the next generation of vehicle batteries and plug-in hybrids.

And, it's long past time that we exercise some common-sense and close the 'Hummer tax loophole.' Instead, we will establish a $4,000 plug-in hybrid tax credit that encourages the production of advanced technology vehicles.

Thirty years ago, during an unprecedented national energy crisis, President Carter said: 'With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes.'

Too often our nation has failed to make the hard decisions needed to move toward energy independence - which makes it even more essential that we do so now.

The measures we outline today will strengthen our national security, boost our economy, create more jobs and protect our environment.

We must seize the initiative. We must act. And, that is precisely what we will do in July when we begin to consider these measures on the House Floor.

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