Sessions: U.S. must address energy problems

Published 11:24 pm Monday, September 15, 2008

America needs to attack its energy problems on all fronts, including drilling, alternative fuels, and conservation, Sen. Jeff Sessions told local supporters in a lunch meeting at David’s Catfish Saturday.

Sharing observations of buying habits at the gas tank he’s made while filling his own, Sessions said he’s made some calculations about the nation’s energy problems.

“The average family spending $105 more per month in gasoline,” Sessions said. “This is what’s hurting the economy. Some people think increased prices will reduce carbon dioxide. But it falls hardest on poor people.”

Part of the problem is the no-drilling stance Congress has taken, he said, adding a description of how the legislation was passed.

Each year, the legislative branch of the federal government is charged with approving 13 appropriation bills.

“It looks like we’re not going to pass a single one,” Sessions said. “We’ll get them all in one conglomeration omnibus bill – we call it the ominous bill. If we don’t vote for it, the government shuts down and the president can’t spend a dime Congress has not appropriated.”

The problem with that, he said, is that many bills get attached to the omnibus bill.

“Each year, they tack things on to appropriation bills,” he said. “A number of us are fed up and we’re going to have a big fight.”

Sessions said that’s one way liberals have blocked offshore drilling.

“We spend $100 billion (on foreign oil) that we can spend with the people of Alabama and other American workers if we produce it here,” he said. “Or, we can send it to (Venezuelan president) Hugo Chavez.”

Sessions said the demand will ease slightly when new standards requiring American-made vehicles to average 27.5 to 35 miles per gallon become effective, but added more must be done.

“There’s oil in shale rock out west,” he said, added there’s an estimated 100 years worth of energy in that oil.

“The problem is you heat the rock to get the oil out,” he said. “So you’re using energy to get gasoline and putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The global warming people oppose anything that increases carbon dioxide.”

Sessions also said he’s interested in a process being tested in Alabama to convert wood products to energy.

Sessions said there are places in the country that can use sustained winds for power.

“There’s a big subsidy on wind,” Sessions said. “That’s why (T.Boone) Pickens is interested in it.”

Pickens is the veteran oilman who has been promoting the development of wind energy in television advertising campaigns.

The senator said Pickens’ idea that natural gas is a cheaper and cleaner form of energy is also correct.

“We should not be using so much natural gas to create electricity – we should use wind and really nuclear,” Sessions said. “A vehicle running on natural gas is cheaper to operate.”

He also said the United States needs to build more nuclear plants. France has 80 percent nuclear power, Japan has 60 percent, and the British are building five new nuclear plants.