Mark Udall: Bipartisan energy plan needed


— In a recent opinion piece ("Udall's U-turn on domestic drilling," Aug. 31 Steamboat Pilot & Today), former Republican state legislator Mark Hillman accused me of hypocrisy because, as a long-time advocate of renewable energy, I support a bipartisan energy proposal that includes investments in solar, wind and renewable energy but also adds domestic drilling.

In his zeal to paint me in the worst possible light, Mr. Hillman couldn't seem to settle on a coherent criticism. On the one hand, he accused me of being an "uncompromising environmentalist" who hasn't "changed his stripes," while on the other, he blasted me for reaching across the partisan divide in Congress to pass a compromise energy proposal.

To complete his rant, Mr. Hillman even took a jab at my wife because she once worked for the Sierra Club. He didn't mention the numerous times I disagreed with the Sierra Club (bark beetle and forest management, livestock and agriculture policy) or worked with Republicans to get something done.

Those who know me (Mr. Hillman surely does not), would acknowledge that my record always hasbeen marked by an interest in working with people, even those with whom I disagree. In fact, I have worked with every member of the Colorado Congressional delegation to pass bills that help Colorado and our country. To see a list of my notable bipartisan accomplishments, visit

In his tirade against bipartisanship, Mr. Hillman also criticized my vote, declaring oil cartels such as OPEC to be a violation of American antitrust law. He wrote, "most high school seniors, not to mention members of Congress, are smart enough to know that our laws do not apply to foreign oil companies." The legislation Mr. Hillman rails against actually was authored by a conservative Republican, Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio. It passed overwhelmingly by a 345-72 vote. With all due respect, most past and present state legislators are smart enough - or ought to be - to know OPEC is not a group of foreign oil companies, but a group of countries. That's what the 'C' in OPEC refers to - and to be aware that U.S. law does apply to the actions of foreigners who participate in our market.

As evidence for my alleged ideological opposition to any domestic drilling, Mr. Hillman points to my vote against allowing the Bush-Cheney administration to call all the shots on offshore drilling. He ignored my vote in 2006 to pass legislation shaped by Congress - not the administration - to open part of the eastern Gulf to additional drilling. I even authored a committee amendment to open more, but a Republican majority would not accept my proposal.

Mr. Hillman also criticizes me for opposing additional tax breaks for oil companies. But with the price of oil topping $107 per barrel, it is patently ridiculous to suggest that tax breaks are necessary for American companies to compete globally. That is because in many parts of the world oil has been nationalized and free market conditions simply do not exist. I also have news for Mr. Hillman: The global oil market largely is dominated by "American" companies that are really international in scope.

Elections sometimes bring out the worst in people, so I am not surprised Mr. Hillman is taking potshots at a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate. What matters is that we do not have to wait for an election to pass a comprehensive energy bill. A bipartisan bill shaped by the so-called "Gang of 10" (recently joined by six other senators, including Ken Salazar) has some momentum we ought to encourage.

The "Gang of 10" bill - with additions Sen. Salazar and I have urged that include stronger renewable energy standards and fuel efficiency - could put us on the path to energy independence before Colorado's next senator takes office. Instead of shooting at bipartisanship and the essential role compromise plays in getting things done in Washington, folks like Mr. Hillman and my opponent, Bob Schaffer, could do better for Colorado and the country if they joined me in this fight.


Alan Geye 8 years, 8 months ago

Mr Udall, I humbly can not comment on your allegations of bipartisanship, but I did find one assertion a bit misleading, that the global oil market is largely dominated by American companies. Oh, if it were only true.

I believe one will find that about 80% of global crude oil (their raw material) is provided by "national" oil companies, like Russia, Saudi, Kuait, Venezeula who do exercise significant influence on the price of crude by controlling supply.

These "dominant" multinational oil companies in effect pay the going market price for crude. True, the multinationals do often refine and distribute product to US consumers, and they may appear to "dominate" the market at the retail side, but in effect, they are merely middle-men.
And like most middle-man companies, their profitability is actually limited by their inability to control the cost of their raw material (crude) or the retail price. Yes, I know, sounds like heracy. Yes, these are companies with huge sales volume but their profit margins (as a percentage of sales) is remarkably modest especially considering the capital investmets inherent in the business. If one doubts this, I invite you to compare the PE ratio of these multinational oil companies' stock to companies like Google.

Thought you might want to see the broader picture.



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