Tester: DC Republicans playing the ‘Block and Blame Game’

Senator will share his own plan with Montanans in August

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Because a few Senate Republicans are refusing to vote on legislation dealing with the ongoing energy crisis at the U.S. Senate, Jon Tester is going to devote the next several weeks to outlining his own energy plan with Montanans face-to-face.

Tester's plan includes:

  • Cracking down on illegal hedgers and speculators on Wall Street who "make a quick buck" by artificially driving up oil prices.
  • Drilling for oil immediately in areas that make sense, like eastern Montana's Bakken Field, which holds an estimated four billion barrels of oil.
  • Investing in conservation and renewable energy like biofuels, wind, solar and geothermal power for the long term.

On the Senate floor this week, Tester criticized several of his Republican colleagues for blocking important legislation to bring down energy costs, including a measure by Senator Max Baucus to extend tax credits for energy development and other Montana priorities like the Secure Rural Schools program.

"Some folks are just intent on playing the Block and Blame Game—standing in the way of important legislation and then pointing fingers," Tester said.  "It's a shame partisan politics gets in the way of working together for common sense solutions.  Montana families deserve better than that."

Several Senate Republicans believe opening up more drilling land for the nation's biggest oil companies the only plan worth moving forward.  Many analysts say a drill-only approach would do little to lower the price at the pump or reduce the nation's dependence on oil.  This week, Tester pointed out, those oil companies reported billions of dollars in record profits during the last few months.  He added those companies are not drilling in 68 million acres of land they already lease.

"If I made $650 billion in profit over the last seven years and $12 billion over the last quarter, I wouldn't have much incentive to change my way of doing business either," Tester said.

Tester added that no matter how much the U.S. drills for oil, there will be a supply and demand problem.  That's because the U.S. has only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, yet it uses 25 percent of the world's energy.

"What can we do to help bring the price of oil down?" Tester said on the Senate floor.  "Sure, we're going to continue to drill—and I support that effort.  But we need additions to our energy portfolio.  If we continue to rely on oil as our chief supplier of energy, we're going to continue to be beholden to Saudi  Arabia forever.  And OPEC forever.  That ought not be the direction we go."