What: All Issues : Environment : Global Warming : Title: CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) amendment to allow Virigina to petition for the authority to drill for natural gas in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the state's coast/On adoption of the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 212)
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Title: CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) amendment to allow Virigina to petition for the authority to drill for natural gas in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the state's coast/On adoption of the amendment
senate Roll Call 212     Jun 14, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a largely symbolic vote on an amendment by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) to allow Virginia to explore for natural gas of its coast. Under a previous agreement with Senate leaders, Warner needed 60 votes to pass his proposal - votes he knew he didn't have prior to offering the amendment -- but he said his goal was to put his colleagues on record as to where they stood on the issue.

Warner had proposed similar amendments in several proceeding years, but it has never become law. The bill which he was trying to amend would seek to reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels by increasing fuel-economy standards for vehicles and mandating the use of 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually by 2015. The underlying bill would also encourage research on carbon-sequestration (keeping carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere and thus preventing it from contributing to climate change), mandate that the federal government get 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015 and require the State Department to pursue alliances with both energy-consuming and energy-producing nations.

Warner said that while he supported those efforts, he said the country must take a "balanced" approach to energy policy, including more exploration for domestic sources of fossil fuels.

"Our citizens are laboring under higher prices - be it for home heating oil, gasoline, natural gas - and we must look at the full potential of America to help resolve this situation," Warner said.

Warner's amendment would allow Virginia to explore for natural gas, and if the state were to find a field that could be economically extracted, the governor could seek the approval of the state legislature and the federal Department of the Interior to drill for it.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) responded that "the ocean is not refined to defined blocks that can be confined in terms of consequences," and that Virginia shares the Atlantic Ocean with many states. "So the decision of one state, while it may be seen to be sovereign to it, actually has a ripple effect to other States, and the consequences can be very significant."

Furthermore, Menendez said that Warner's proposal, "far from helping end our dependence on oil, is seeking to tap another vein to feed our oil and our fossil fuel addiction." The energy bill the Senate was debating was supposed to be about reducing that dependence on fossil fuels, he added.

In the end, Warner didn't even find a simple majority for his proposal, let alone the 60 votes he needed to pass it under the agreement he made with Senate leaders as a condition for bringing the amendment to the floor. Six Democrats crossed party lines to support it, while five Republicans broke ranks and opposed it. Thus, on a vote of 43 to 44, an amendment that would have allowed the Virginia to explore for natural gas off the state's coast in the Atlantic Ocean was rejected, and a bill aiming to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels went forward without the measure.

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