Below is the transcript of Saturday's Democratic radio address, delivered by Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
REP. JOE DONNELLY: Good morning. This is Congressman Joe Donnelly of Indiana's Second Congressional District. Today it is my pleasure to talk to you about a few of Congress' recent accomplishments on an issue that I believe will help define the future of our nation: energy independence and energy security.
Like many Americans across the nation, the people of northern Indiana have felt the negative effects of an energy policy that favored big oil companies at the expense of working families and businesses.
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In the last six months, oil prices have increased by $25 a barrel to a record high of $102 this past week. In fact, in the past two weeks, the nationwide average for a gallon of gas increased 17 cents to $3.15 per gallon. For working families trying to make ends meet and for businesses working to strengthen our economy, this is a recipe for stress and struggle.
However, not everyone is feeling the squeeze. Thanks in large part to a number of tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies, the world's five largest oil companies each reported record-high profits for 2007.
At a time when America is confronted by political instability around the world, our nation continues to rely on foreign sources of oil for nearly 65 percent of our supply. There is no way around it — our current energy policy is bad for working families, bad for the American economy and a threat to our national security.
In order to address these challenges, the New Direction Congress has made energy independence and energy security a top priority. This past year, Congress passed and the president signed landmark legislation to increase fuel efficiency standards, produce 36 billion gallons of homegrown bio-fuels by 2022 and promote energy efficiency in our buildings, homes and appliances.
This past Wednesday, the House took another significant step by passing the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, which will help ensure that our tax code is equitable and reflects our national priority of energy independence.
This legislation would repeal a number of the most costly and unnecessary tax subsidies benefiting large oil companies and instead reinvest that $18 billion into providing incentives for the use and production of renewable energy.
Specifically, the legislation would invest more than $8 billion in clean, renewable energy incentives for electricity produced from sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower.
In addition, the bill includes $2 billion for clean, renewable energy bonds to assist electric cooperatives and public electric providers to utilize renewable energy sources. Equally important, these technologies will lead to a demand for newly manufactured products and a growth of a quickly emerging green industry, creating hundreds of thousands of highly skilled, well-paying jobs.
The bill also provides tax incentives to help homeowners and businesses cut energy costs by investing in energy efficient products and properties, and it encourages American manufacturers to develop affordable appliances that would promote energy efficiency improvements in our homes and businesses.
For rural communities, like those in my Indiana district, this bill contains tax incentives for the production of biodiesel and a new generation of biofuels, including fuels produced from domestic, non-food products such as switch grass and corn stover. And in order to bring these fuels to market, the bill included tax credits for the installation of new E-85 ethanol pumps.
While these are positive first steps, we must remember that a successful solution requires a diverse portfolio of energy sources. My home state of Indiana currently relies on coal for nearly 94 percent of its energy generation.
While we must work to bring this number down, this fact serves as a powerful reminder that we must also pursue advances in clean technologies that allow us to continue to use our nation's most abundant and affordable sources of energy.
By investing in clean coal technologies and carbon sequestration, I am hopeful we will be able to fully harness the energy potential of American coal while also respecting the health and the sanctity of our environment.
History shows us that the American people can achieve anything we put our minds to, and I can think of few challenges greater than our nation's need for energy independence. The benefits of energy independence go beyond leaving our children a cleaner environment. By relying on American ingenuity and not oil country dictators, we would create new jobs and make our country more secure.
I am confident that through the continued actions of this Congress and with your help, a clean, sustainable energy policy for America will become a reality.
This is Congressman Joe Donnelly. Thanks so much for listening.