U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) had harsh words Monday about President George W. Bush’s announcement that morning that he had lifted an executive ban on offshore oil drilling and encouraging Congress to do likewise. Biden, in the backdrop of Cape Henlopen State Park, said lifting the ban would make no difference in gas prices and is a step in the wrong direction as a nation.
“It’s pathetic that the president made that announcement today,” said Biden. “It’s a big deal. By the time the offshore leases produce one drop of oil, turbines will be powering 50,000 homes with renewable clean energy,” he noted, gesturing to toward the nearby planned site for Bluewater Wind’s offshore wind farm. “This can be a perfect example to the rest of the nation of renewable energy.”
The recent agreement between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power for the purchase of a portion of the proposed capacity of the wind farm off Rehoboth Beach has finally moved that project a step forward toward becoming the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
“The paradigm is to shift away from our dependence on oil,” said Biden. “This is the single most consequential action. Gas was $2.86 a year ago. So, for a family with two incomes earning $60,000 a year, that’s $3,600 more money a year to go the same amount of miles in the same vehicle — $3,600 after taxes literally alters your life. It is life-changing and affects what you can do. It affects food, prescriptions drugs. It’s a big deal. But I don’t have to tell you that.”
Biden took the opportunity to thank state Rep. Pete Schwatrzkopf for sponsoring legislation supporting the wind farm and he noted the ability to attract tourists to the site with the beauty of the area’s natural resources and Cape Henlopen State Park as a backdrop. He spoke of the wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth Beach as a step in the right direction.
“That change is to be part of a significant shift. The community has decided it is in its best interests,” said Biden, to consider renewable energy. “And that took a lot of courage.”
H noted that 5.1 million barrels of oil are already produced in the U.S. each day and that 32 U.S. states and federally-controlled areas in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of the Alaska produce oil. “But, we consume 20 million barrels per day or 7.6 billion per year.”
Biden said re-opening offshore areas for oil exploration won’t make a significant dent in that kind of demand.
“Even if we drilled if every available source, the U.S. would still need to import about 50 percent of its oil consumption,” Biden emphasized. “When Jimmy Carter left office, it was only 30 percent.”
Moreover, Biden said, existing federal leases to oil companies for drilling and exploration offshore are not being fully utilized as it is.
“There are 7,000-plus leases in that water out there, over 68 million acres they already control,” he noted. “People think we’d be drilling for the first time. Only on 20 percent are they drilling, and 80 percent are already available for leasing.”
“What’s giving more leases going to do?” he asked. “The cynic in me says it’s going to affect their bottom line. It will not affect the price you pay. If they started tomorrow, it would be 10 years before they got a drop of oil. There would be no impact until 2030. It’s not policy. It’s politics. The price is dictated by global demand.”
Biden said the nation’s oil resources simply aren’t big enough to meet booming demand, severely limiting how much impact any level of exploration and drilling can make on the prices at the gas pump.
“We don’t control enough to make a difference,” he said. “We have 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserve and have 4 percent of the world’s population, and we consume 25 percent of all oil. It is an absolute sham that we can affect the price.”
Biden said his plans call for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and shifting away from fossil fuels altogether. Those plans include increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles; investing in new super-efficient technology; increasing the use of renewable fuels; increasing the amount of farm-grown fuel in the nation’s fuel supply; investing in new technology; increasing the use of renewable energy; requiring the federal government to be more energy efficient by setting renewable energy requirements; and encouraging Americans to use energy-efficient hybrid and highly efficient diesel cars, and renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.
Among those initiatives is Biden’s $50 billion five-year “Apollo Project,” designed to address climate change through energy policy. To the naysayers who say the nation can’t afford it, his answer was simple. “We can’t afford not to afford it.”
“I know I am idealistic. But I am not naïve,” said Biden. “I’ve been in the Senate longer than all but four senators, but there are still 44 senators that are older than me,” he joked.
“When have the American people ever let their country down?” he asked. “It’s not that the American people aren’t willing. I am absolutely positive that we can transform the face of this country. It’s a win-win. It is not beyond our capacity. We can all of this and more.”
For more information on Biden’s initiatives and energy policy, visit http://biden.senate.gov online.