Cornyn: Dependence on Foreign Oil a Threat to National Security

Senate Democrats Acknowledge Consequences, Oppose More Domestic Production

WASHINGTON—In a speech on the Senate floor this morning, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Vice-Chair of the Senate Republican Conference, outlined the national security consequences of America’s continued dependence on foreign oil and questioned why Senate Democrats remain opposed to efforts to strengthen domestic energy production.

In his opening remarks, Senator Cornyn specifically noted yesterday’s acknowledgment by Senator Barack Obama, as reported in today’s Washington Post, that oil money is responsible for violence in Iraq and that it strengthens dictators in Venezuela and Iran.

“I want to begin my remarks this morning by quoting the distinguished junior Senator from Illinois, Senator Obama, who said recently, ‘our dependence on foreign oil strains family budgets, and it saps our economy. Oil money pays for the bombs that go off from Baghdad to Beirut and the bombast of dictators from Caracas to Tehran…our nation will not be secure unless we take that leverage away and our planet will not be safe unless we move decisively toward a clean energy future.’ I’d like to say to those comments from Senator Obama…Amen. And so I would ask him, why do he and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle continue to oppose domestic energy production that would reduce our dependency on oil from the Middle East?

“When the United States imports roughly 60 percent of the oil that it consumes, then the real profiteers of our dependence are foreign nations from which we import….Unfortunately, we send American dollars to foreign nations and energy cartels like Venezuela and Iran -- nations that openly condemn the United States and the principles for which we stand and seek to undermine our national interests at every turn. Last year in Venezuela alone, U.S. consumers spent an estimated $30 billion on oil imports….And we know, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran is enjoying all the money that America is sending to him and other countries when they purchase oil, now running in the $135-a-barrel price range. We can’t afford to forget that oil is a global commodity used by every country throughout the world, so that money spent on oil imports from the Middle East or anywhere benefit Iran…. The money we continue to send to the Middle East and to Venezuela does nothing but enrich our enemies.

“Why in the world then would we deny ourselves access to the natural resources that allow us to become less dependent? Congress needs to get out of way and allow America to do what it does best. That is, to maintain or at least try to achieve less dependence on imported oil from our enemies…. The longer we sit idle and do nothing to increase our domestic energy production the more money we ship overseas and the more likely it is to empower the threatening actions of some of America’s staunchest enemies.

“We need a comprehensive and balanced energy policy that includes increased American energy production. We’ve raised fuel efficiency standards, we’ve implemented a renewable fuel standard, we supported tax incentives for wind, solar, biomass, and energy efficiency appliances. Now we need to grow our domestic energy production by tapping into America’s proven oil and gas reserves. We can begin to produce more energy at home and we can begin to ease our minds about how rogue states like Venezuela and Iran will be using those dollars to threaten us.”

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.