Thank you. Thanks everyone for coming. I'm here today to talk about the serious choice that the people of Minnesota will face this November.
Our country can continue down the road of failed policies that Washington has brought us with the gas prices up towards $3 a gallon, with global warming on the rise, with a 60% increase in health care premiums in the last 6 years, with tuition costs up 80% at the University of Minnesota and a war with no end in sight.
Or they can choose a new direction, a path that puts the concerns of Minnesotans ahead of the the big oil companies and ahead of the big drug companies, and takes us on a new path that harnesses the energy and the innovative spirit that has made America great.
Last week I talked about what you do when you are in the woods and you get lost, you use a compass and if you don't have a compass you follow the North Star.
Well many people in Washington have been led astray by the Exxons, and the Enrons, and the Halliburtons, and I think they need a moral compass. The only problem is they’re using the congressional compass which only points in one direction and that’s towards W, as in George W. When I’m your senator, I won't be following the Lone Star, I'll be following the North Star.
Today we’re going to talk about two divergent paths in the area of Energy. There are two paths: one is the status quo Lone Star direction and one is a new alternative path that puts the people of this state in front of the big oil companies and is grounded in science and in new jobs for this state.
Just yesterday morning on the Sunday Morning talk shows John Hofmeister, the President of Shell Oil was on television saying that he thinks “energy independence is going too far.”
Energy independence might be too far for an Energy giant like Shell, and energy independence is clearly too far for the crowd in charge in Washington, but most Americans think we haven’t gone far enough along the path of energy independence.
Talk is Cheap in Washington, but in Minnesota the Price of Gas Isn't
The leaders in Washington have coddled the Energy Giants of the last century, ignored the dangers of our dependence on foreign oil, and increased global warming. Just recently they started to "talk" about what we need to do, but the bottom line is: they've let this happen.
With big oil contributing $75 million to the leadership in charge in Washington since 2000-my opponent has personally received $84,000 from the oil and gas industry- oil and gas lobbyists have been writing our laws, and they’ve been running our environmental policies, and this is where it’s taken us:
Minnesota families are paying record prices for gas. Washington has given nearly $30 billion in tax breaks to energy companies that are reaping record profits. And when they found out that Exxon had had a record profit year brought in $36 billion- their CEO retiring made $400 million last year -they couldn’t even take back some of those oil giveaways. They could’ve given them back to the people who are paying these record bills. They could’ve invested them in energy independence. But instead they decided to keep them and to give them to the people who are reaping those record profits.
You get what you pay for and Americans are paying the price for this failed energy policy.
This is what this lone star path has brought us:
Americans shelled out over $200 billion more on energy last year. That’s a 25% increase.
We’re spending over $200,000 a minute on foreign oil. That’s about a third of our trade deficit.
And global warming is on the rise, with enormous consequences for our world and for our economy. The glaciers are melting in Glacier National Park; we had the hottest record year in history in this country just last year; We’ve seen record storms all across this world. The answer from the Administration? Put a guy in charge of the environmental policy at the White House, who is lobbying for the oil industry, and then when he gets caught trying to doctor a scientific report on global warming, get him a job over at Exxon Mobil. That’s their answer.
It's Time for a New Direction
It's time for a new path, and there is a new direction.
You need to know something about me and that is that I believe in science. I believe in technology and I believe in progress through science. This is a state that brought the world the post-it note and the pacemaker, and our next challenge is the new frontier of energy independence.
This is the state that made world smile when doctors and nurses sent home two healthy babies from the Mayo Clinic just a few weeks ago. And when I talk to doctors in Rochester and I talk to farmers out in Benson and I talk to workers in Duluth. They believe in science, and they believe in technology. They believe that there is a better way in the area of energy. They want us to be investing in the farmers and the workers of the Midwest, and not the oil cartels of the Mideast.
They believe we can turn the corner on the devastating effects of global warming, but the problem is this: You heard that old saying: you dance with the one who brung you? Well these guys in Washington have been two-stepping with Texas tycoons; they’ve been dancing with the people that gave them the contributions that brought them to Washington and as a result they’ve done nothing in energy, and this is what we’re seeing.
I think they could learn some lessons from the people of this state. Maybe they could go and visit the wind turbines in southwestern Minnesota, or the ethanol plant in Benson, or maybe we just need to send some different people to Washington who have the guts to put the teeth in the law to get something done (I'm kind of partial to the second idea), but what we know what we need is a new direction and a new path.
Here's the new direction:
First of all we need to put national renewable standards in place for fuel. I've suggested 10% standard by 2010 and 20% standard by 2020. Here I’m talking about ethanol, biodiesel, biomass. We have done so much in our state. They need to learn some lessons from us, but we need to go beyond there if we’re really going to make a change in our national energy policy.
We need to put a national electricity standard in place. I’ve suggested again 10% by 2010 and 20% by 2020. There is no reason we can’t do this with the wind that we have across the prairies. Denmark’s already headed up to 25%. I believe we can do this. That standard of 20% would bring 5000 new jobs into Minnesota alone in the wind industry.
We need to raise the fuel economy standard for new cars. This will give us more miles per gallon; it’ll be cheaper for our drivers and it’ll also be better for our environment. I've suggested 33 mpg by the year 2010 for a start. When you look at what other countries are doing, they’re much higher than we are. We can do this. Scientists support this, and we’re talking here about 33 miles per gallon. It would save our drivers a lot of money and reduce global warming.
Third we need to strengthen- fourth we need to strengthen tax incentives for both the manufacture and purchase of hybrid vehicles and flexible-fuel vehicles.
We need to also require oil companies to pay the price for gas gouging and require them to pay into renewable energy research funds if they don't do it themselves.
We need to make Energy Science a major part of our national school curriculum and create a national Manhattan project style focus on energy development. If we could put a man on the moon, we can do this. If the country of Brazil is fuel self-sufficient, there is no reason we can’t be.
Finally, we need to adopt legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions to the 2000 level by 2010; and to the 1990 level by 2020.
There's one direction--the status quo, staying with the folks who’s gotten us into this mess increasing foreign oil dependency, increasing global warming, higher gas prices. Much of the same.
Then there’s the other path-the North Star direction, a new alternative which is grounded in science, which is grounded in progress, and which means new jobs for our state.
The people of this state will decide, and I believe that they want to see a new direction. As General Omar Bradley said back in 1948, it is time that we steered by the stars, not by the lights of each passing ship. Thank you, and I’m ready to answer any questions.