Merkley and Snowe Introduce Bipartisan Energy Security Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As President Obama discussed strategies to reduce American dependence on foreign oil Wednesday, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation that sets a goal of ending America’s dependence on overseas oil by 2030.  The Energy Security Act of 2011 would establish a National Energy Security Council charged with keeping the nation’s focus on this goal even as presidential administrations change.  The Council would report directly to the President to establish specific targets and oversee and coordinate federal programs to reduce oil consumption.  

“America’s addiction to foreign oil is a severe threat looming over our nation’s economic and national security – and that threat is growing larger every year,” Senator Merkley said.  “By continuing to place our energy security in the hands of nations that don’t have our best interests in mind, we leave American families and businesses vulnerable to spikes in gas prices and a severing of the nation’s fuel supply.  Establishing a National Energy Security Council will elevate oil independence from rhetoric to policy, putting America on the road to greater security and a stronger economy.”

“It is imperative we achieve energy independence, especially as gas prices continue to rise while tumult ensues in oil-rich regions of the world,” said Senator Snowe.  “Make no mistake, our government has failed to develop a concrete energy policy that reflects the value independence brings to our economy and our security.  Focusing on reducing our dependence on foreign oil will elevate the urgency of this national discussion and ensure we develop a long-term plan to achieve results for the American people.”

Every American President since Richard Nixon has called for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, yet oil imports have continued to rise.  To achieve the aggressive goal of eliminating America’s dependence on overseas oil in the next 20 years, the Energy Security Act of 2011 would have the President and the National Energy Security Council develop a national oil independence plan that would include a timetable for achieving oil independence and provide recommendations to Congress for legislation that would reduce oil consumption and promote oil independence.  The council would be made up of top national experts on energy, the economy, and the environmental implications of energy, as well as the Secretaries of Energy, Transportation, Treasury, Commerce, and Defense, and the Administrator of the EPA.  It would be housed within the White House and is modeled on the National Economic Council.