Campaign 2008

Sen. Brownback outlines energy policy, calls for energy independence within 15 years

With the Republican primary presidential candidates coming off their second debate, energy policy and climate change are emerging as key issues in the 2008 presidential elections. During today's E&ETV Event Coverage, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), details his energy plan. Brownback calls for the United States to be energy self-reliant in the next 15 years. He talks about increasing domestic oil production and explains the role he believes coal should play in the United States' future energy policy. Brownback also discusses biofuels and climate change.


Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas: You can believe my amazement when I heard that my staff kept saying, "No, they want a full-length policy speech. They really want an in-depth speech," when I've had two presidential debates, with 10 candidates, 90 minutes, three moderators, and two commercial breaks.

You do the math. That gives you seven minutes per candidate to tell the world how you would lead Western democracy. And so when they said, "No, you can talk for 20 or 30 minutes about one policy issue," I was just going, well, surely, that's not -- can you check that again and make sure that they want, and they're willing to have that length of a policy speech?

And they said, "No, really, they want a very much in-depth speech." So, may I say thank you, and God bless you for letting us talk about something that's important and go in-depth in it.

And I will try not to be boring on a topic that I find immensely important, very practical, and quite necessary. But just thanks for providing a forum where you can talk in-depth about something that you want to do, that we need to do, that's critically important for our future.

I've been involved in energy issues, I'd like to say, really, since, oh, it'd be 1979 when, 1979 to 1980, the farm crisis is starting across the Midwest and people are saying, "What are we going to do to get farmers out of the crisis?" And people said, "Let's start making ethanol out of corn and out of wheat and out of milo."

And so then there were all these farm stills that were starting up. I was a farm reporter at that time. And they weren't farm stills for human consumption. It was for consumption by the tractor and by cars.

And then we were fighting the automobile industry because they were saying, "OK, it's ruining the car," and the agriculture industry was fighting back against oil companies saying, "You know, no, ethanol is good. No, ethanol is bad."

And I see some old hands at some of these fights that have been in them for many, many years. But we're at a different phase now and we're at a different stage, to the point that you can buy ethanol at many stations, hopefully more in the future. We have our second hybrid car in our family now, just recently purchased. I'm quite delighted with the gas mileage that it makes. And soon I hope we're going to have plug-in technology on cars.

And you're going to be seeing biodiesel being used in a much broader cross-section. And you're going to see energy security in North America in 15 years, which is my objective. And I want to define what I mean by energy security in North America in 15 years. I don't think I need to go through the numbers, but I would like to hit a few of them if I could. The United States uses 25 percent of the world's oil, yet we have 6 percent of the world's proven reserves. We are dependent.

The current president, President Bush, says addicted to foreign oil. I think that's hard to dispute that we do have that level of addiction to foreign oil. The U.S. imports 60 percent of its petroleum. This is over 10 million barrels a day. These oil imports cost more than $240 billion annually.

By 2025 experts expect us to import 68 percent of our oil on present trend lines. Non-OPEC reserves are in decline. And, even if OPEC has vast reserves, the cartel itself may lack political stability and financial ability to exploit that crude as quickly as skyrocketing world demand will require.

I've worked on foreign policy issues much of the time I've been in the U.S. Senate. I've worked on bringing Indian and U.S. relations closer. India, as an economy, is growing. Certainly, the Chinese economy, it's no news, is growing rapidly and they are engaging and using more oil products.

The competition is increasing for proven oil reserves. My background is in agriculture economics, a subdivision of economics, but there's a very basic economic principle. It's called supply and demand. And if you have a stable supply and an increasing demand, what happens to your price point? It goes up as a basic of economics.

And what we have taking place in the world today, in many respects, is a fairly stable supply situation, hopefully increasing, a dramatically increasing demand situation, and price increases, to the point I paid $3.31 a gallon last night for gasoline in Washington, D.C. It's too much.

Let me talk about some specifics that I would like to see outlined and then, at the end of this, I hope we have some time for me to be able to take questions.

The 15 year goal, we must be energy self-reliant in North America in the next 15 years. At the same time we need to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. This is possible using our ingenuity, resources, and determination. For too long our foreign policy has been dictated, in part, by our need for foreign oil. It is in this interest for American security for us to look at ways to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

It will take at least 15 years for us to become energy independent within North America. In the meantime, we cannot let terrorists disrupt the availability of oil to our country. We are fighting terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere throughout the Middle East, indeed, throughout the world.

Terrorism has many clever ways of attacking. Disrupting our economy can be done in the Middle East, not just inside our borders. An attack there can hurt in different ways, but, make no mistake about it; our economy and our way of life revolve around a steady, dependable, affordable flow of oil to the United States.

Terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere threatens the equilibrium of the world and our country. Increasing domestic fuel supply. The first step in solving our nation's oil dependency needs to be finding ways to produce more oil here in North America. We should encourage optimal production on domestic lands through incentives in the tax code and improving drilling technology, through increasing research and development incentives.

Because of the current high prices for oil it has become economical to re-tap wells that were formerly abandoned. We should encourage domestic production as it will help our dependency on foreign oil and create jobs in America.

And what I want to layout as an overarching theme here is that there is not one simple answer to reducing our energy insecurity in the United States. It is a whole set of answers working together to get to that 15 year objective to being energy secure in North America. One of them is increasing our domestic production. ANWR is at the center of that. To raise domestic oil production comes from more than 150,000 wells scattered throughout the country, they average 15 barrels a day.

There have been no new major discoveries in the 48 contiguous states in 30 years. As the U.S. population increases the nation must either produce more or import more. Alaska's Arctic is the most promising area for the largest supply with the smallest physical impact. And I believe we can do it and we can do it environmentally sensitive. The proposed drilling site in ANWR is 2000 acres, out of 19 million acres that's less than 0.01 percent. The area, in total, is as large as the state of South Carolina, a state I'm becoming increasingly familiar with.

The size of the drilling site is as large as Dulles Airport, a place I'm also very familiar with. With enhancing recovering technology ANWR oil could provide an additional 30 to 50 years of reliable supply. It's something we cannot ignore.

This area could contain between 6 to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. We're drilling in other areas of the northern slope, in Prudhoe Bay, and doing so responsibly. Petroleum development of Prudhoe Bay has not negatively affected wildlife.

For instance, the central Arctic caribou herd is at home with pipeline facilities and has grown from 3000 to as high as 27,000 in the last 20 years. Drilling activity in ANWR would be limited to winter months, when wildlife does not frequent the coastal plain. Had we opened up ANWR 10 years ago we would have an extra 2 million barrels of American oil in the global market each year. Canadian oil sands, I've said 15 years, energy security in North America.

And I think it's key that it be we include the term North America on the geographic side. Another site in the North America that we need to utilize for its oil reserves are the Canadian oil sands in Northern Alberta, a place I visited last summer and had a delightful trip, that I went there.

And that I was amazed at what I saw and the level of investment is very impressive. The oil sands in Alberta and throughout Canada are second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of proven oil reserves.

There are over 174 billion barrels waiting to be produced. This accounts for 15 percent of the world's oil reserves. Output of marketable oil sands production increased to 966 barrels per day in 2005.

With anticipated growth this level of production could reach 3 million barrels per day by 2020, and possibly even 5 million by 2030. Canada is our top trading partner overall and also our number one source of foreign oil, but not many people know.

Our friendship with the Canadian people is stable. I would prefer we import our oil from countries that are our allies, like Canada, rather than countries that are less than friendly to us, like Venezuela.

Renewable fuels, now here we're getting into something I've worked on and I like a lot. Ethanol and renewable fuels must play a role in this fight. They are homegrown and produced, therefore, keep money in rural communities.

We ventured down this road before, but we've never fully committed, as a nation, to renewable fuels. Now is the time to do so. Now is the time for us to really commit to this area.

We've had passing interest in it in the past. We've certainly had interest from the rural states. We've certainly had interest from the Midwest. But we haven't fully committed to it. We are and we need to now.

I'm encouraged by the fact that so many people are buying into, literally, buying into ethanol and biodiesel. Bill Gates has invested over 100 million of his own money into ethanol.

Richard Branson, of the Virgin empire, famous for his success in venture capitalism, has invested in ethanol. Goldman Sachs has invested $30 million in cellulosic ethanol. These are great signs for renewable fuels' future.

This is, I think, a key place for us to invest so that we become more dependent on the Midwest than on the Mideast. As a government and as a people we need to fully commit to making renewable fuels a viable alternative to petroleum-based fuel.

As long as oil remains around $70 per barrel the economics of renewable fuels makes sense and it makes sense for us to continue to push its development.

I would hope that car manufacturers would continue to increase their production of flex-fuel vehicles, which are vehicles that can run on ethanol, methanol, gasoline, or any combination thereof.

This is a feature that cost less than $100 per vehicle. Numerous times the big three, Ford, GM, and Chrysler, have indicated they're willing to make 50 percent of their vehicles flex-fuel compliant by 2012. I hope they will make good on this promise.

Our nation's ethanol production continues to set records each month. The goals we placed for production of ethanol in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 will be easily met and exceeded.

And as a person who travels Iowa a fair amount of times I'm seeing these plants going up and being constructed and operating every day. We currently have nearly 120 ethanol plants in the U.S. and over 70 plants under construction.

That's tremendous success. But we need to continue striving for more production of ethanol. Experts tell me that we can meet up to 10 percent of our fuel needs from corn-based ethanol.

However, we can and we must do more. Cellulosic ethanol, or as I like to call it, grass to gas, is ethanol from a variety of sources, like switchgrass, corn stover, wheat straw, and even wood chips.

Recently the Department of Energy announced a series of grants for companies to build the first commercialized size ethanol plant, cellulosic ethanol plants in the nation. I'm proud that one of these plants will be in my home state of Kansas.

If this technology proves to be economically viable we could produce an additional 30 percent of our nation's fuel needs from grass and other agricultural waste. So listen to me here, we've got, or if I could, 10 percent that we can get from grain-based ethanol, an additional 30 percent from cellulosic ethanol.

This is a big area that we really need to aggressively probe. It could drastically change the dynamics of our nation's fuel supply, drastically. Instead of sending our money overseas, we can use it here in an environmentally friendly way and helping a region of the country that needs economic support.

Biodiesel is another renewable fuel and is an American soybean farmer success story. I was involved in some of the first biodiesel efforts when I was secretary of agriculture in Kansas.

We converted, for a short period of time, the bus fleet in Topeka, Kansas to run on 10 percent fat fuel, if you will. It was tallow, cattle fat taken from the processing plants, slaughter plants, and converted into a biodiesel that was 10 percent biodiesel out of animal fat and 90 percent out of an oil base.

The buses ran great. The odor coming out of it was a little bit like a McDonald's restaurant, what they smelt like afterwards. And the guys that were running it were a little curious about it, but it worked well.

Recently I was in a salt mine in Kansas that was running, if I got the numbers correct, a 40 percent diesel mix because it was cleaner for the work environment for the people that were there.

This is a place that can and needs to grow, and can be a substantial support for us in substituting diesel. After operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s soybean farmers struggled to maintain profitability through high energy prices and low commodity prices.

They invested in the biodiesel industry and have made it a priority. Farmers invested more than 50 million of their check-off dollars through the 1990s to conduct research and development of biodiesel.

As a result, the biodiesel industry has been slow, but steady in success since the early 90s. However, in the past two years it has grown exponentially. In 2004 there were approximately 25 million gallons of biodiesel sales. That increased to 90 million gallons in 2005. We're on track to exceed 150 million gallons in 2006. Likewise, we went from 22 biodiesel plants, in 2004, to more than 60 currently and there are 40 currently under construction.

An aggressive ramping up that's taking place. Congress has and continues to put in place policies that enhance our nation's energy security, another reason renewables play a key source.

One thing I didn't bring to show you today, but I think is one of the key areas that we can probe and push into in the future is the substitute of starch for oil-based products. And I often carry with me, I don't have it with me, a piece of carpet that I picked up in Iowa from the Iowa Corn Growers Association, that's made out of starch instead of a petroleum base.

And we have a series of products that we could substitute of starches, making those out of plastics instead of oil-based plastics. Again, another area that we can do in the market that helps our economy, that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and that's environmentally friendly and sound.

Coal-to-liquid fuel, that's yet another domestic source of fuel that could be promoted and pursued, is coal-to-liquid fuel. I believe coal needs to be at the foundation of our national energy policy for the foreseeable future.

Now I want to repeat that, because it's a difficult statement, I think, for a number of people to look at and to say, "Coal needs to be there." But I think we have to recognize the importance that coal serves.

We have over a fourth of the world's coal supplies, well over 250 years worth. Our unrivaled coal reserves, the world's largest, will allow us to continue growing our economy, providing an opportunity for millions of Americans to share in our prosperity.

And not only will coal continue to provide electricity to our homes and businesses, but coal can provide significant new supplies of coal-to-liquid fuels for transportation, as well as play an integral role in enhancing other forms of domestic energy, like oil exploration, the recovery of coal bed methane, and to produce methanol.

I am encouraged by the early results from our exploring of coal-to-liquid technology. As you are all well aware, we are at war with a militant fundamental wing of Islam.

One of their secondary goals, behind their primary goal of killing as many of us as possible, is doing untold damage to our economy and our energy supplies, particularly the oil we import from the Middle East.

We need to find reliable and economic, viable sources of domestic fuel. Obviously, ethanol and biodiesel are parts of that, but I don't think we should stop there. We need to aggressively pursue coal-to-liquid fuel.

This will give us another product, a domestic product that we can compete for transportation fuel. Our oil dependence is a big problem and we certainly need to increase the domestic supply of our fuel through increased drilling and more domestic fuels, like the ones that I've described.

But that's only partially a way to address the problem. We must look to reduce the demand for oil throughout our economy. And here I want to make the point that I've tried to in a number of speeches narrowly across the country, but more broadly here.

I think we have to rely upon a broad set of answers of what we do to get the energy supply we need here. And we also need a broad set of answers of how we reduce our demand on foreign oil.

It isn't a one size fits all or a silver bullet approach. It is a multiple set of items that we need to work on. Let me be clear here, I'm not and will not advocate for raising taxes to reduce demand.

Hold just a second. I want to make sure we're not voting right now. I guess we're OK still. I'm not and I will not advocate for raising taxes for reducing demand. I am a fiscal conservative and I realize that raising taxes is not the correct approach in addressing this problem.

I don't believe in raising taxes to address this problem and, particularly, when you look at the cost presently of gasoline and what its direct hit is on consumers when they fill up at the pump and that's direct dollars from their pocket out, and that they don't have.

And to raise those taxes would raise that direct tax right on the individual. Instead, I argue that we should introduce competition in the transportation fuel market. As stated earlier, the transportation fuel market is 97 percent dependent upon petroleum-based products.

The fundamental principle of the free market is competition. Through competition consumers are delivered numerous quality products, often times at a lower cost. Now I'm a huge promoter of choices, as Gault said.

Here, for instance, I believe we should have a choice between an alternative flat tax and our current tax code. This will promote growth. But I also think that we need to promote choice within our consumer industry for as far as fuels.

When consumers have a choice the consumer wins and our economy wins. Consumers need a choice in the transportation fuel market. They need another option beyond petroleum. That choice should be electricity.

A while ago I, and many of my colleagues in the House and Senate, test drove plug-in hybrid vehicles on Capitol Hill. These cars drive exclusively on electricity for the first 30 miles up every trip. After 30 miles these cars switch to a normal combustion engine.

Over 50 percent of all Americans drive less than 30 miles each day. Now none of them live in my home state of Kansas, but that's 50 percent that don't drive more than 30 miles a day.

That means we could have over half of our drivers in America driving exclusively on electricity and not using any oil at all. It's an amazing, huge number.

The good news is that our electricity generation is produced here in America, whether it's coal, natural gas, nuclear, or renewable sources like wind. We would be fueling a majority of our transportation sector with American sources of energy as opposed to foreign oil.

Plug it into your car during off-peak hours, when power is in surplus and cheaper, would soon just become part of the modern daily routine, like plugging in your cell phone before you go into bed at night.

And off-peak electricity can be the equivalent of 50 cents a gallon gasoline. Now imagine that. Think that could get you elected, promising 50 cents a gallon gasoline?

So not only will we no longer be sending our money to countries that dislike us, and are funding our opposition directly, but we will be buying American-made power at a tremendous discount to the American consumer.

Another great bit of news is that we already have the infrastructure in place to introduce electricity as a transportation fuel. All you'll need is an extension cord and a normal wall outlet.

As president, I'd put forth a series of tax credit and incentives to encourage the production and purchase of these plug-in hybrid vehicles. We can't drill enough domestic oil to break our dependence on foreign oil, nor can we conserve enough oil by carpooling to work, even though both of these are important.

However, I believe we can grow and innovate our way to diversifying our fuel sources. That will not only help our farmers, rural communities and overall economy, but also keep Americans safer each and every day, and with a greener country.

Now I want to talk about an issue that is a bit of a sidebar maybe on this discussion, but to me it's a central product of it. And that's the global fight for human rights and the connection to petroleum.

In addition to ensuring our nation's safety and reducing our dependence on foreign oil, it would ensure others' safety across the globe, our reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Many Americans instinctively understand why freeing ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil will have positive repercussions on our national and economic security. The facts I stated earlier bear that out irrefutably.

However, many people don't realize how freeing ourselves from foreign oil will help others across the globe. Thomas Friedman wrote an article for the April 2006 edition of Foreign Policy magazine titled "The First Law of Petropolitics."

And I'm sure a number of you read that article or read reviews of it and read portions of it. In this article Friedman points out that there is an inverse relationship between the price of oil and the march of democracy and human rights, an inverse relationship.

In other words, as the price of oil goes up the march of freedom and the advancement of human rights slows to a halt. Let me give you some examples. Recently we've seen increasingly erratic and dangerous behavior from the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.

I ask you this, would we see this same behavior if the price of oil was $25 a barrel as opposed to over $65 a barrel? Or even put another way, would we be even paying attention when Ahmadinejad claimed loudly and publicly that the Holocaust was a myth and that Israel must be "wiped off the map," if they were not receiving a record price for their main export?

Would Chavez act so brazenly if Venezuela's economy depended on empowering his people and engaging in free trade instead of simply pumping more oil from the ground? Friedman goes on to make the point that Bahrain was the first Arab Gulf country to hold a free and fair election, interesting, in which women could run and vote.

And the first Arab state to undertake a total overhaul of its labor laws to make its own people more employable and less dependent on imported labor, Bahrain. Also happens to be the first Arab Gulf state predicted to run out of oil.

Bahrain is also the first state to sign a free trade agreement with the United States, interesting? I think so. A few years ago we watched the Cedar Revolution, where freedom loving activists in Lebanon pushed Syrian troops out of their country.

Is it a coincidence that the first true democracy in the Arab world happens to not have a drop of oil beneath their land? Now I realize there's problems with Lebanon and I don't want to mitigate any of those.

But I think Thomas Friedman's got an interesting point here, and I don't think it's just coincidence. No, it's not a coincidence, as Friedman effectively points out. In 1997, when the price of oil was below $20 a barrel, Iran was calling for a dialogue of civilizations. Now, with the oil nearly $70 a barrel, Iran is calling for the elimination of sovereign states and is making a mockery of global concerns over its desires for a nuclear weapon.

We will achieve these goals, not through government action alone, but by tapping into our innate goodness as a society and working together, by using our markets, and by focusing on what we can achieve here for the American public.

And we can do this while helping the environment. This is how America has always achieved great goals, by working together, by tapping into markets and competition, and taking on big problems.

Ronald Reagan often referred to American exceptionalism. And there's truly something exceptional about our country and our American people. We must strengthen and hold our true values as a standard to which the good can resort.

We are and can be both good and great. Indeed, those to travel together. It is our goodness that leads to greatness. I, again, want to thank you for the chance to be specific and somewhat lengthy on a policy topic. Lord knows, we need more that actually.

Because we need to talk about specifics of the problems like this, that have so many fingers into so many areas, whether it's into foreign policy or global security or the environment or directly into the pocketbooks of people. That's the sort of thing we ought to be doing.

And, well, they did a recent interesting poll that they found that 66 percent of the American public was already tired of the 2008 presidential race. I find, as I travel, people are never tired of talking about policy issues. They really want to talk about these things. And they really want to know, what do you want to do? And how are we're going to get this done. And so, again, I just say thank you for allowing bad and providing a forum for us to talk in-depth about a serious issue that I think we've got a great answer for.

And pulling together, this is a bipartisan issue, pulling together we can solve as a great win for the American people, for people around the world. Thank you very much. God bless you all. Thank you. Thank you.

Host: Thank you senator. With your permission we'll take a few questions.

Sen. Sam Brownback: Yes.

Host: I'd like to just ask you first, you've presented your very detailed plan; however, there are some very immediate concerns. As you know, the Saudi government just arrested a group of terrorists a couple of weeks ago. Many of them had learned how to fly planes into Saudi oil facilities. So the threat of supply disruption, which could send in the world economy into a major turmoil if the price of oil goes to $150 a barrel, is very eminent. And what are your thoughts about immediate solutions, like for example, increasing our strategic reserves, providing more insulation to our economy if, tomorrow morning, something happens?

Sen. Sam Brownback: That we didn't weave into this, although I think it is something we probably have to take as a bigger action item, or as a policy issue to review because of the immediacy. What I've built in here is a series of things that I believe we can do to get ourselves to an energy security. And we need to do that, it seems to me, and reviewing the strategic petroleum reserve is a possibility as well. I haven't directly addressed that because what I wanted to focus on is what can we do over a reasonable period of time? Which I think that 15 year window is a reasonable period of time. But we are vulnerable on a near-term basis. You can be vulnerable through what Chavez might do in Venezuela. You can be vulnerable to what the Iranians might do at the Strait of Hormuz. You can be vulnerable to several different places, in particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Questioner: Hi, I'm Rich Ploytree, with NGB America. About a quarter of the petroleum used in transportation is diesel and by 2017 it's supposed to be about 50 billion gallons. You mentioned biodiesel. At best, biodiesel, their goal is maybe 3 billion gallons by then, 3 out of 50. And that's probably optimistic, because now the farmers are planting corn where they used to plant soybeans, and so they're not going to be able to get the soybeans like they have before. Three out of 50, where does the rest come from? How can we - this is the backbone of our economic system, commercial traffic. Mom and pop, they can take the train to work, but you've got to move stuff by truck. What do you see as a solution to that?

Sen. Sam Brownback: In diesel, that one, to me, is one we're going to have more difficulty than in the substitute for the ethanol in gasoline, because we've got places that we can produce more, if we can make a cellulosic ethanol work. And I think we've got a good shot at that. As I mentioned on ethanol, it's 10 percent that we can do out of grain, probably a max number. But we think we can do another 30 percent off of cellulosic. The diesel's going to be, I think, a tougher piece of the equation for us to be able to get that done, because of the acreage. Although, I do think if we can make the cellulosic ethanol work you're going to have more acreage that will open up for soybean production in the United States, so that the number could grow. It's still probably not going to get where we need to be on an overall basis. If you can reduce that petroleum demand for gasoline though, out of your oil-based product, it seems that would have a beneficial effect on overall diesel prices and supplies, if we can get that reduction taking place.

Questioner: Debra Kahn, Environment & Energy Daily. You were talking about how you wanted to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. I was wondering if you could expand a little bit on that. So does that mean you support a segregation of carbon sequestration of that?

Sen. Sam Brownback: That, yes, but much more than that. And I think if we take the rough picture of this, if we can reduce our dependency on foreign oil and substitute that for ethanol or biodiesel or ethanol out of grain or ethanol out of cellulosic production, you create a carbon cycle in that, and not just a release of carbon that you do on a petroleum basis. That's number one. Number two, if we go to more electricity in the car fleet and you're producing this there, if it's out of nuclear energy you're going to reduce your carbon dioxide as well. I think we have a substantial opportunity here in this shifting of the energy, particularly in the transportation energy from just a petroleum basis to getting electricity involved here, to drastically reduce the CO2 production in the country. As you substitute more renewable fuels, but also as you substitute electricity into this, I think you've got the possibility, I think we have the possibility, the probability of drastically reducing CO2 production.

Questioner: Senator, Kent Zimmerman, among other things I'm the president of Foundation for Democracy in Iran. The Iranian government is killing Americans every day in Iraq. They're supplying exclusively foreign penetrators and other weapons to al-Qaida as well as to Shi'ite Muslim groups. Some in Washington believe that we should have a strategic dialogue with the Iranian regime or, in fact, even make them a grand bargain to resolve all of our differences, to lift sanctions, etc. Others believe that we should be supporting the pro-democracy movement inside Iran. Where do you come down on this?

Sen. Sam Brownback: What I think we ought to do is I supported what came out in the Iraq Study Group, was for us to be able to talk with the Iranians about what was taking place in Iraq, but not a diplomatic, long-term engagement. As I've described it, it was more like how we talked with the Iranian's prior to going into Afghanistan, saying this is what we are going to do. We would like for you not to be harmful in this overall process, and having that type of discussion, but not diplomatic relationships with the Iranians. I think that's the way we ought to engage them, is on the specific situation and what's taking place in Iraq and what they are funding and what they are doing that is killing our troops, and that we confront them on that. I also think on Iran, on a broader scale, we really should engage the dissidents in Iran, the homegrown labor movement that's starting up in Iran. I think we ought to work on civil society building outside of the government of Iran. I think we should be very aggressive on sanctioning of Iran, economic sanctioning of Iran. I think we ought to push a divestiture campaign towards Iran. One of my Democratic colleagues and I just put forward a bill pushing for divestiture of companies and of people from the United States investing in companies that do business in Iran. I think we've got to get much more aggressive on confronting the Iranians at the same time that we do talk with them, specifically about what they are doing in Iraq, to discontinue. So I want to be clear that I think we need to aggressively confront Iran, even at the same time that we talk with them about what's taking place in Iraq. Thank you very much. Appreciate it very much. Take care.

Host: Thank you very much. The senator has to go to a vote. Thank you.

[End of Audio]



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