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Remarks on Energy Security at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Winter Meeting in Vienna, Austria

Good morning, I am Hilda Solis and I represent the 32nd Congressional District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 32nd District is located in Los Angeles County, California. As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and a member of the U.S. delegation, I am delighted to be here today and to present the U.S. delegation’s remarks on energy security.

To enhance our energy security, we ultimately must consume less and pollute less. The United States acknowledges its leading role in energy consumption and the strain it has put on our world’s energy security.

Unfortunately, the policies enacted by President Bush and the Republican-led Congress have exacerbated our energy problems and ignored the very real challenges to our energy security. However, the United States is taking steps to achieve its energy security goals.

Under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress passed legislation last month to increase funding for clean technologies and energy efficiency.

In Congress we are holding hearings to understand how we can best address climate change, while ensuring that industries which employ workers and maintain stability are able to transition into a clean energy future and maintain economic security. We are working to make federal buildings more energy efficient and incorporate this message and effort throughout our entire federal government.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that she will establish a Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. She understands that we must address our energy security issues sooner rather than later because as the leading consumer of energy and polluter, the U.S. must lead the way.

Because our federal government has failed to adequately address our energy challenges, our states and cities have been taking action on their own. The state of California, which I represent, is the tenth largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution in the world. I am proud that we are taking action to change that through mandated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources, such as cars and light-duty trucks, and a recently implemented statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Other states are doing the same.

Today, I want the debate on energy security to not only be about oil rigs and pipelines, but about the atmosphere and ice caps. As parliamentarians, we should address issues of energy security and climate change together. Working with our partners in the OSCE, we need to promote sound energy policies, improve energy security and foster economic growth and development.

Energy insecurity can be caused by supply chain disruptions—such as when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused major damage to oil refineries in 2005. It can also be caused by political unrest or political power plays.

To truly achieve energy security, we need to focus on two key points:

1. We need increased transparency and predictability in energy supply; and
2. We need aggressive action to cut energy use and reduce emissions.

We can all agree that the world energy markets are inherently global. Every country is dependent on the energy market. Varying locations of energy supplies and demands will continue to expand trade across the globe, and differences in resource ownership, and access to capital and technology will require increasing cooperation among many parties. Consuming, transit and producing countries share a mutual interest in the expansion of cooperation and in avoiding volatility.

One key facet of energy security is securing supply. Securing our energy supply includes the promotion of free-market policies in oil-producing countries. It also includes the protection of property rights, which ensure fair competition, transparency, and good governance. The protection of property rights inevitably enhances access to natural resources and prevents expropriation. We should also promote the privatization of national oil and gas companies and economic liberalization to develop an effective energy security policy.

We must also promote political accountability. Many oil-producing countries lack the political will or social framework for good governance in the energy sector. As parliamentarians, we should work together to encourage the development of transparent parliamentary controls over oil and gas revenue and expenditure, and transparent national oil funds to absorb excess oil revenues and prevent the crowding out of non-oil sectors.

We should also work to ensure an effective rule of law, democratic political control, and corporate transparency principles in handling oil revenue by government oil companies and energy/oil ministries.

We can also promote diversification through the entire energy supply chain. This includes diversification of supply routes (multiple pipelines), diversification of sources of supply (multiple suppliers), and diversification of markets and access to them.

Through use of a two pronged approach of renewable energy and energy efficiency we can decrease demand for non-renewable sources of energy. This requires us to work together to increase affordability of renewable energy and reward those who adopt energy efficient measures.

I urge the OSCE to follow-up on the consensus parliamentarians built in Brussels as well as the resolution of the Ministers in Maastricht in 2003 where they called for “a predictable, reliable, commercially acceptable, economically sound and environmentally-friendly energy supply.”

As uncertainties surrounding global energy supply and demand persist, we must unite to secure our energy supplies, our environment, and our economic future. Together we can promote a global approach that not only promotes energy security, but environmental security as well.

Being in Vienna today I can’t help but finish with a quote from the most famous Austrian in America, who is now the governor of California. Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “We know the science, we see the threat, and we know the time for action is now.”

The U.S. delegation looks forward to working with you all to take that action within the OSCE and in our home countries.

Thank you.

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