Transcript: Jay Inslee, Energy Bill. Dec 6th 2007

Thom and Congressman Jay Inslee discussed the Energy Bill currently before the House.

Thom Hartmann interviews Congressman Jay Inslee, 06 December 2007

[Thom]: And greetings my friends, patriots, lovers of democracy, truth and justice, believers in peace, freedom and the American way...

On the other hand, the American people, and, frankly, Bush, I mean, Bush was out here going 'We're addicted to oil', the American people are very concerned about the fact that every time you fill up your car, you know, if you're driving, what's the old bumper sticker, 'if you're driving alone, you're driving with Osama'? Every time you fill up your car, a portion of that money is going to go to Saudi Arabia, who's going to give a portion of that money to the Wahhabist madrassas who are going to teach the Osama bin Laden line. Our dependence on Middle Eastern oil is not only a geopolitical problem and an economic problem, but it is also a security problem in a very real way. And so the Democrats in Congress decided to do something about it, actually did something about it.

Jay Inslee is with us. He represents Washington State's first district and he's on the line. Congressman Jay Inslee, welcome to the program.

[Inslee]: Yeah, thanks for having me. Thanks for your interest in this.

[Thom]: Yeah, this is a big deal. The Energy Bill here that, well give us the thumbnail sketch of this thing.

[Inslee]: Well basically, you know, you started the show, your intro is you stand for truth, freedom and the American way, and this is freedom, this is an attempt to have freedom from Middle Eastern oil because we know the security concerns of funding the regions in the Mid East, and we'd rather, you know, frankly spend our money and get our fuel from middle western farmers rather than Middle Eastern sheiks; so that's freedom.

And the American way part of it is that our way of solving problems is to use our heads and innovate and do technological solutions. We're the world's most technologically advanced country and we believe, we Democrats believe, and I hope a few Republicans, that we are just as smart, just as confident as when Kennedy said we should go to the moon in 10 years. And that's why we think we need a project that's similar in scope and ambition as the original Apollo project. And this bill today is going to do some very, very strong things.

First it's going to, for the first time in 30 years, improve our auto efficiency standards. This is long, long overdue. And we know that we can wean ourselves off of foreign oil if we in fact insist that the manufacturers provide us with efficient cars, and so raise the standard from 25 to 35 miles per gallon.

Second, the bill will provide that 15% of our electricity by 2020 will come from a combination of clean, renewable sources; wind, solar, thermal, solar photo voltaic, enhanced geothermal, wave power, and efficiency where we can conserve energy and not waste it. This is a very important piece to drive investment into these new technologies that are not fossil fuel based.

Third, we're going to have a whole slew of guarantees to Americans that the equipment that we use is going to be up to snuff technologically. So we have standards that will reduce the energy use in our lighting by 70%, standards that will make our heating and cooling equipment much more effective to save energy.

Fourth we have some requirements that we'll move forward in our buildings and our building codes, because that's where 30, 40% of our energy is used and consequently our CO2 is coming. So we're going to make our homes and businesses, and help people make sure their homes are up to snuff, to not waste energy. This new report saying that we can reduce our energy usage 50%, 50% over the next decade and a half compared to what we otherwise would use just by doing commonsense things like using energy efficient lighting, and the insulation in your homes. And this is going to help home owners in that regard.

And fifth, it is going to pay for this. And this is really important. You know, we Democrats, we've had it with, you know...

[Thom]: Borrow and spend politics?

[Inslee]: Putting everything on our kids' credit cards, right?

[Thom]: Yeah.

[Inslee]: So we're paying for it. And the way we're paying for this is we're reeling back in about $13 billion of tax breaks that were given to the oil and gas industries long ago that there's no reason on this green earth that taxpayers should be subsidizing big oil right now. I mean, they're charging 3 bucks a gallon, they're the most profitable corporations in the

history of the solar system.

[Thom]: I think Exxon Mobil is now the largest corporation.

[Inslee]: Certainly, and there's reason that you should be paying taxes on April 15th and giving it to, you know, these oil companies. So we're reeling that back in and we're using those funds to help small businessmen and women, home owners, people who are buying cars, to get fuel efficient equipment, housing and appliances, and also help to motivate, frankly, to give some help to these emerging businesses who are building these new technologies all across the country. So this is a winning proposition, any way you slice it.

And I think today is maybe not quite as romantic, but the same impact as May 25th 1961 when Kennedy said, he stood in the House, I'm sitting round in the cloakroom and not the House floor right now, I just spoke on the bill, he said we're going to go to the moon in 10 years. And we did it, because he knew Americans can produce when we're challenged, and that same 'can do' spirit exists to this country today.

And we've seen this all across the country, in Florida with the Ausra solar thermal company just signed a contract for 300,000 homes to produce with solar thermal power, the Imperium bio diesel company in Grays Harbor, Washington, a former dying timber town, now it's the largest bio diesel plant in the world, 100 million gallons of clean bio diesel which, as you know, reduces CO2 emissions dramatically. The AltaRock company which is developing a way to do enhanced geothermal. We have massive amounts of geothermal energy below our feet, assuming we can perfect this technology to put water down there and extract the energy.

So we're seeing all this technological boom, and the reason I know about it, is I just got done writing a book about it called "Apollo's Fire", and I just met these people all over the country who are doing great work.

[Thom]: Yeah, we're talking with congressman Jay Inslee, his web site The author of "Apollo's Fire" about this new House Energy Bill.

Congressman, here's the one fly in the ointment. Here you have this great piece of legislation, the Reuters summary of it:

  • it repeals Section 199 tax deduction for major oil companies, generating $10 billion over 10 years,
  • drops Section 907 foreign income tax deductions, raising $3.19 billion over 10 years,
  • it ends the tax break for companies to write off exploration expenses which raises $4.1 billion,
  • extends tax credits to produce energy from renewable sources like wind, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas and trash-burning facilities, this is $6 billion in costs over 10 years,
  • extends 30% investment tax credits for businesses to install solar, fuel cells, 10 percent tax credit to install microturbines through the end of 2016,
  • tax credits for home energy, I mean, it raises the tax cap up to $4,000.

This is, this is a lot of really, and that's just the beginning of it, a lot of really great stuff. And about an hour ago the White House announced that they're going to veto it.

[Inslee]: Well, you know, it's not...

[Thom]: That's the difference between now and Jack Kennedy.

[Inslee]: Yeah, there is a little different between president Kennedy and the current occupant of the White House. And the difference is the president, the current president, simply does not understand the creative power of the United States


[Thom]: Oh, I think he understands it perfectly well, but he's an old oil guy, his vice president is an old oil guy.

[Inslee]: We need to break those shackles that he is continuing to enslave the American people. This is about freedom. This is about the freedom to be able to pull up to a pump and you decide whether you are going to use cellulosic ethanol or bio diesel or perhaps, or electricity because we're talking about the electrification of the car now, which is very imminent, plug in hybrids that will go 40 miles on zero CO2, those cars are on the road today and GM's bringing in another one. He simply does not understand how the federal government can help the emergence of these new technologies, and to subsidize an industry that was mature a hundred years ago makes no sense, and it's only happening because the oil and gas industry has had its tentacles around this institution for far too long, and we're breaking those

today. This is a big deal.

[Thom]: So are you going to be able to get a large enough vote in the House to be able to overcome a veto, and do you think that the same thing will happen in the Senate

or not?

[Inslee]: We don't know the answer to that. The time, you know, that just remains to be seen. I will tell you this: what I have learned about this issue, I have never seen an issue advance as rapidly as this one has. A year ago I wouldn't have given you a dollar's chance that we would have advanced as far as we have. And the reason for this is that the American people now are seeing both the signs of global warming: they've one million miles of the Arctic, square miles, melt this summer, the size of 6 Californias. They've seen the science make this abundantly clear, and they're demanding action on global warming.

At the same time they're seeing these technologies come on like wind; wind right now which has the capacity to do 20% of our electricity in the next 25 years. They're seeing this development,

so the science is maturing and frankly we're really lucky this is the case, because if we didn't have these technologies we'd be really behind the 8 ball with global warming. So the country is seeing it, now we need the Congress to see it, and if we have to get to two thirds, so be it. This needs to come on; it's going to be a big day for the country.

[Thom]: Yep. And what our listeners can do is go to there's a list of toll free numbers that you can use to get to the switchboard on Capitol Hill. If you're not sure who your member of the House of Representatives is, just give them your zip code, they'll connect you with your representative, and say "hey, please support that energy legislation that is going through Congress right now". Congressman Jay Inslee,, thank you.

[Inslee]: Thanks very much. Let's go


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