Carper’s Connection – Energy and Environment, August 2011
As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, I work on issues related to energy and the environment every day. Over the past month, I’ve been working to safeguard Delaware’s natural environment and to bring about American energy independence. I also have had a chance to visit places in Delaware that are leading the way in energy innovation and helping make the First State a national example in environmental stewardship.
EPA’s Clean Air Regulations
Delaware’s geographical place at the end of “America’s tailpipe” means that dirty emissions from cars, power plants, and industry often drift east and pollute Delaware’s air. Today, as much as 90 percent of Delaware’s air pollution comes from out-of-state sources. Our state has made great strides in cleaning up our own air pollution, but unfortunately Delaware can’t regulate the pollution that drifts our way from neighboring states. On July 6, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, a welcome step to help improve our nation’s air quality. I call it the “Good Neighbor” rule, because it requires 27 upwind states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to pollution in downwind states, including Delaware. For years, I’ve worked to find legislative solutions to the challenges associated with cross-state air pollution, and with this new rule in place I expect we’ll achieve even better results – both for the environment and for public health.
Read my statement on the new EPA rule here.
Investing in Offshore Wind Energy
One of my top priorities in the Senate is working to end America’s reliance on dirty and dangerous sources of energy to power our cars, homes, and industry. Each year, we import billions of dollars worth of foreign oil from unstable countries that don’t share our national interests, send thousands of pounds of toxic emissions into our atmosphere, and bear the brunt of rising gas costs that hurt working families. The time to find a solution for our energy crisis is now, and the need to invest in renewable, clean, American energy has never been greater.
For years, I have been working with Congressional leaders and leaders across Delaware to bring wind energy development to the seas off of Delaware’s shores. I truly believe that an investment in offshore wind energy is an investment in clean, stable energy and in good-paying American jobs in manufacturing and construction. Through our efforts, I believe we will soon see windmills off our shores in Delaware, bringing clean energy that will create jobs and power electric vehicles like those built by Delaware’s own Fisker. To accelerate investments in offshore wind, just last month I introduced the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act. This bill provides the offshore wind industry enhanced stability by extending vital investment tax credits for up to 600 wind turbines. These tax credits provide much needed support to our own NRG Bluewater Wind offshore project. This is just another step in my effort to bring offshore wind and its benefits – from jobs to cleaner air to renewable, home-grown energy – to Delaware.
Read more about my work to bring offshore wind energy to Delaware here.
Watch my latest Carper’s Corner video blog about clean energy and offshore wind below:
Kent County Energy Tour
On July 5, I visited Kent County communities to view more than $614,000 in energy efficiency projects funded by a grant from the Department of Energy. From Harrington to Bowers Beach to Leipsic, I saw energy upgrades to fire departments, town halls and parks and recreation facilities. These investments in “greening” our public facilities will save taxpayer dollars by getting better results for less money. As I often say, the cleanest, most affordable energy is the energy we never use. As Delaware’s senior senator, I’ll do all I can to ensure that organizations across the First State get federal grants to help them improve energy use and strengthen our natural environment.
View all the photos from my visit to Kent County here.
For help with federal grants, click here.
Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act of 2011
In June, I joined Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to introduce the Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act. This bill establishes a specific plan for achieving independence from overseas oil in the next 20 years by making our transportation fleet more fuel efficient, increasing Americans’ mobility by providing more convenient and affordable alternatives, and investing in alternative fuels. Each day, our nation’s dependence on foreign oil costs us a billion dollars that we could be using here at home. Moreover, it prevents us from fully investing in home-grown clean energy efforts that create American jobs and incentivizing electric vehicles like the ones built by Delaware’s own Fisker. Our country is long overdue for a comprehensive plan to reduce our unhealthy consumption of foreign oil, and I am proud to get behind legislation that does just that.
Watch my press conference introducing the bill below:
Highway Speed E-ZPass at the Newark Toll Plaza
On July 1, I toured the Newark Toll Plaza with Gov. Jack Markell and officials from DelDOT to see the new toll plaza and Highway Speed E-ZPass lanes. On the Fourth of July weekend, traffic was moving smoothly, with no major back-ups or congestion for folks heading through Delaware or to our beautiful beaches. The high-tech E-ZPass lanes will cut travel times and save gas for drivers by reducing the amount of time cars spend idling at the toll plaza. The result is less greenhouse gas emissions, which means less harmful air pollution in Delaware.
Additionally, on July 25, leaders from the First State and the Obama Administration celebrated the official opening ceremony of the highway speed E-ZPass lanes at the I-95 Newark Toll Plaza. At this event, I joined Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, Sen. Chris Coons, Rep. John Carney, Gov. Jack Markell, and DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt to champion this important American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project.
View more photos from the I-95 toll plaza event here.
Learn more about the facility and its importance to Delaware and Delawareans by watching my video below:
Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2011
In June, I introduced legislation to protect and enhance the Delaware River watershed with Sen. Coons and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (both D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y.), and Bob Casey (D-Penn.). This legislation would strengthen the environmental health of the watershed while underscoring the economic impact of the Delaware River on our state and neighboring states. It would create the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which would establish targeted efforts to protect the river and keep our air, water, and land clean.
Improving American Recycling Efforts
Earlier this month, I introduced a Sense of the Senate resolution expressing support for improvement in the collection, processing, and use of recyclable materials throughout the U.S. with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). This resolution reinforces the importance of recycling to the U.S. economy and to our natural environment.
Read more about my efforts to improve recycling as co-chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus here.
With warm personal regards,