"The oil companies are celebrating in their boardrooms"

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) expressed his frustration after the second attempt to limit debate on the energy bill, H.R. 6, failed by one vote the morning of Dec. 13.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) expressed his frustration after the second attempt to limit debate on the energy bill, H.R. 6, failed by one vote the morning of Dec. 13:

"Mr. President, this last vote was a historic vote for America. This was a decision about whether we were going to look to the future to change to an energy policy and a environmental policy consistent with America's best interests. Pitted in that vote were the oil companies, the energy companies of years gone by, and those energy sources for our future. The energy companies of years gone by prevailed.

"The irony is that the Republicans, [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] and others, have stood steadfast in protecting the subsidies for the oil companies of America. That is a time-honored tradition in the Senate. Whether you agree with it or not, the Senate, by and large, has been very kind to the oil companies and the oil industry throughout our history. We couldn't have seen a vote they would have been happier with than the last one, because in the last one, the last vote, we suggested that subsidies for oil companies should give way to tax incentives for new sources of energy, sources of energy that are clean, renewable, sustainable, and that vote failed by one vote.

"Isn't it ironic, at a time when oil companies in America have enjoyed the highest profit margins in their history, that the Republican argument is we must continue the tax subsidies for those oil companies? Isn't it ironic, at a time when Americans are paying higher and higher prices at the pump for gasoline, while oil companies have the highest profits in their histories, the Republicans argue we should not penalize these oil companies in any way or they will take it out on the consumers? It is a craven political position. It is a position which is devoid of leadership. It is a position which looks to the past instead of to the future.

"The future suggests these oil companies should be held accountable like every company. With $90-a-barrel oil, why in the world would they need a federal subsidy? Why in the world would the members of the Senate protect that subsidy when these oil companies are enjoying the highest profits in the history of their industry?

"I think many of us believe there is a future that is much different. It is a future which most Americans are praying for – when we are less dependent on foreign oil, when we are using energy sources that are kind to the environment, and where we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and global warming. That is the future. The future just failed by one vote. The past was preserved with those who voted against this last motion.

"The oil companies now are celebrating in their boardrooms. Not only do they have the highest profits in history, they continue to have a death grip on this Senate. They continue to be able to muster enough votes to stop us from moving forward with the energy for America's future. It may be a great political victory today for the oil companies, but I will tell you the day is coming, and soon, when the American people will have a voice. In the election in 2008, they can decide whether to elect those political figures who are preserving the past, ignoring the future, or vote for those who want real change.

"I think this was a historic vote. To lose by one vote in terms of moving us forward, to say that President Bush, who has his own history in the oil industry, is going to dictate America's energy future, is to condemn us, I am afraid, to a future that is not hopeful. It is a future where this administration, having rejected Kyoto, still stands in lockstep with the oil industry and their view of the world. That has to change. That has to change if our future generations and our children are going to have a livable world, one where they can cope with the changes in the environment and say that our generation did not let them down. The Senate let them down with this last vote."

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