Friday April 01, 2011 | 03:42 PM

A national environmental advocacy group is lauding legislation co-authored by Sen. Olympia Snowe that aims to reduce and eventually end America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Snowe, R-Maine, wrote the Energy Security Act of 2011 with Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. The legislation’s goal is by 2030 for the nation to no longer have to depend on overseas oil for its energy needs.
The Snowe-Merkley bill, unveiled earlier this week, would establish a National Energy Security Council, housed within the White House and modeled on the National Economic Council, and charge the energy council with developing a “national oil independence plan,” according to Snowe’s office.
The groupEnvironment America, a federation of 29 citizen-based state groups that includes an arm in Maine, said that the Snowe-Merkley bill is “an important step in getting America off oil.”
Environment America policy analyst Daniel Gatti said in a statement today that, "For all American families who are tired of the pollution, the oil spills, the conflicts in the Middle East and the high price that we pay for gasoline, this bill is good news.
“It shows that there are at least two United States Senators, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Olympia Snowe of Maine, who understand that the real solution to the crisis of oil dependence is to lead with clean transportation and efficiency,” Gatti said.
When she unveiled the bill, Snowe said that, “Make no mistake, our government has failed to develop a concrete energy policy that reflects the value independence brings to our economy and our security.  Focusing on reducing our dependence on foreign oil will elevate the urgency of this national discussion and ensure we develop a long-term plan to achieve results for the American people.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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