Friday, January 26, 2007

Brian Schweitzer delivers Democrats' national radio address in advance of President Bush's State of the Union address

January 20, 2006 - Helena, MT

Good morning. I'm Brian Schweitzer, the Governor of Montana, the Big Sky Country.

On Tuesday, President Bush will deliver his annual State of the Union Address. He is expected to talk about the war in Iraq and the need for our country to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I wanted to share some of my thoughts about these topics, which are very important to all Americans.

Along with many people across the country, I have serious concerns about the President's plan to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq. His plan is just more of the same.

I lived and worked in the Middle East for six years, Salam Alaikum to those who speak Arabic. There, I spent time with many Muslim families and like our families in the United States they want opportunities, freedom to work and live as they choose and the ability to make their country a better place for future generations.

Mr. President there are animosities between Sunni and Shiite people in the Middle East that have developed over centuries. Outsiders can not resolve this conflict unless the Iraqi people want security and freedom as least as much as us.

The American people expect, and our troops and military families deserve, a real plan for success in Iraq that includes political solutions as well as military action.

Mr. President I heard you say that you want to embed American troops with the Iraqi army in Baghdad. Please, don't embed our men and women within Baghdad beside untested and potentially corrupt members of the Iraqi military.

We could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform for the role that they play in protecting Americans at home and abroad. No one has sacrificed more than the military families at home who have a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Democratic Governors were helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil long before President Bush discovered our oil addiction just last year in his last State of the Union Address.

Here in Montana, for example, I have been working hard to promote renewable energy development and conservation, also to promote the development of coal to liquids facility as a bridge to new sustainable energy development and as an important step in reducing Montana's dependence on foreign oil.

Montana is producing renewable forms of energy including wind power and bio-diesel from oil seed crops. In Kansas, Governor Kathleen Sebelius has been promoting ethanol on the national stage. And she has made alternative energy a priority for her second term. In Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell has set energy efficiency standards for all state government vehicles.

This week I was proud of an action championed by Democrats in Congress. A bill was passed that will repeal $14 billion in subsidies given to big oil companies. The legislation also creates a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve to invest in clean, renewable energy resources and alternative fuels, promote new energy technologies, develop greater efficiency and encourage energy conservation.

Last year Montana oil producers increased their oil production and we will increase it again this year. Congress should not be giving subsidies to multinational corporations to develop oil fields for foreign dictators. The market is driving the exploration boom in Montana, not freebies from Congress.

We have enough energy resources and green technology in the United States to enable us to stop relying on foreign dictators to supply us with fuel.

Along with a smart strategy in Iraq, our energy independence can make us stronger and safer. We Americans use 6.5 billion barrels of oil a year. We only produce 2.5 billion ourselves. We import 4 billion from some of the world's worst dictators.

I've got a plan. We can save 1 billion barrels through conservation. Things like more efficient cars, homes and appliances. We can produce another 1 billion barrels of bio-fuels with crops like corn, soybeans, canola and camilina. My hope is Americans can produce 2 billion barrels a year from our enormous coal reserves to a clean-burning fuel for about $1.20 a gallon and for the next fifty years only touch a small fraction of our coal supplies.

We can achieve energy independence in 10 years, create a whole new industry with hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs, and you'll never have to send children and grandchildren to war in the Middle East again.

Mr. President lets create hundreds of thousands of jobs in America by producing our own clean fuels, bring our men and women home, and stop spending money in Iraq.

This is Brian Schweitzer, the Governor of Montana.

Thank you for listening. God bless your family and God bless America.